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Ship Ahoy Reviews

A jumble of songs, some comedy, silly patriotic cliches, and a spy spoof story all add up to less than meets the eye. Powell had scored well aboard ships in BORN TO DANCE, HONOLULU, and BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940 so this time they really put her at sea with a dull script and a series of inane situations. The studio must have felt that spy tales were the thing to do because they also gave Jeanette MacDonald the unenviable task of appearing in CAIRO that same year. Powell is a tap dancer who works with Dorsey's band. They are all on their way to Puerto Rico by ocean liner. Also with the band are drummer Buddy Rich, trumpeter Ziggy Elman and a skinny singer named Sinatra who does most of the crooning in the film. Once they set sail, all get involved in a complicated plot in which enemies of the US are trying to steal plans for a new weapon. Along for the voyage are Skelton as a daffy writer of pulp fiction and his aide Lahr. Eventually Powell undoes the bad guys, saving the world for democracy. The villains are overplayed in the usual 1940s fashion. Skelton has only a few moments where he can shine as a comic, and it's hard to believe that this little script took seven writers. The best part of the movie is Powell's rat-a-tat dancing and some of the other musical numbers which include "Last Call for Love" (Burton Lane, E.Y. Harburg, Margery Cumming, sung by Sinatra), "Poor You" (Lane, Harburg, done by Skelton, O'Brien, Sinatra, and Dorsey Orchestra), "On Moonlight Bay" (by Percy Wenrich, Edward Madden, done by Sinatra, The Pied Pipers, Dorsey Orchestra), "Tampico" (by Walter Ruick, done by Powell), "I'll Take Tallulah" (Harburg, Lane, done by Powell), "Cape Dance" (by Ruick, done by Powell), "Ship Ahoy" (Lane, Harburg, done by Powell with Jimmy Cross, Eddie Hartman). Rich and Elman have stand-out solos and Dorsey gets in some of his smooth trombone licks. The picture looks as though it was shot over a weekend.