Let's Dance finds Fred Astaire teamed with Betty Hutton professionally in an act. And the plot of the story revolves around Astaire trying to make it a romantic partnership as well.
In fact he announces to the audience at a USO show during World War II that he'd like to marry his partner. Small problem though Hutton tells Astaire in the dressing room. She's already slightly married some months earlier in a whirlwind romance. The act gets broken up as well.
Flash forward to five years later. Hutton is a war widow raising her young son Gregory Moffett in some affluent Boston surroundings presided over by her husband's mother Lucile Watson. Watson is a wealthy WASP dowager who's just about gotten used to the fact that her son married an entertainer, but she insists that her grand kid be raised as a proper Bostonian. Not for Betty who's bored stiff with polite society. She takes off with Moffett. In New York she hooks up again with Fred, but it's romantic rocky road with a couple of detours for Fred it's Ruth Warrick and for Betty, Sheppard Strudwick.
I don't think that there was any surprise that there was no demand for the return of the team of Astaire and Hutton. They perform their numbers well although I agree with other reviewers that the film is tilted for Betty from the gitgo. The fact that this was her home studio of Paramount no doubt helped there. I do agree that composer Frank Loesser having dealt with Betty before wrote for her. He had already given her I Wish I Didn't Love You So from The Perils of Pauline. Loesser himself was getting his songwriting career into high gear. He had just had a big Broadway smash in Where's Charley and would the following year have his biggest hit of all with Guys and Dolls.
Nothing here was nominated for an Academy Award. Can't Stop Talking About Him is Betty's best number, definitely in her style. Fred looks a little silly trying to keep up with her. He's shown to best advantage in the piano dance, dancing on a Steinway and in a hoedown western style dance number with Betty in Them Dudes Were Doing Our Dance.
Some interesting casting here. Two guys who usually were villains in films play good guys with Barton MacLane as the gruff, but kindly club owner where Astaire and Hutton are playing and George Zucco as the judge before whom the custody battle is fought. Lucile Watson is her usual imperious self and has a crack legal team at her disposal with Roland Young and Melville Cooper.
Let's Dance was a good film for Betty Hutton. It didn't do too much for Fred Astaire however...
BRUCE'S RATING: 6 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: 7 OUT OF 10