Follow the Fleet (RKO) is a 1936 Hollywood musical comedy film with a nautical theme and stars Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott, Harriet Hilliard, and Astrid Allwyn, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. Lucille Ball and Betty Grable also appear, in small supporting roles. The film was directed by Mark Sandrich with script by Allan Scott and Dwight Taylor based on the 1922 play Shore Leave by Hubert Osborne.
Dance commentators Arlene Croce and John Mueller point out that, aside from the obvious weakness – a discursive and overlong plot lacking quality specialist comedians to bring its whimsical elements to life, a flaw which also characterised Roberta – this film contains some of the Astaire-Rogers partnership's most prized duets, not least the iconic “Let's Face the Music and Dance.” According to Croce: “One reason the numbers in Follow the Fleet are as great as they are is that Rogers had improved remarkably as a dancer. Under Astaire's coaching she had developed extraordinary range, and the numbers in the film are designed to show it off.” That this film's remarkable score was produced immediately after his smash-hit score for Top Hat is perhaps testimony to Berlin's claim that Astaire's abilities inspired him to deliver some of his finest work. As an actor, however, Astaire makes an unconvincing attempt at shedding the wealthy man-about-town image by donning a sailor's uniform, while Rogers, in this her fifth pairing with Astaire, brings her usual comedic and dramatic flair to bear on her role as a nightclub entertainer.