Ship Ahoy (1942): Edward Buzzell’s Musical Comedy, Starring Eleanor Powell and Red Skelton

Edward Buzzell directed Ship Ahoy, an MGM musical comedy, starring Eleanor Powell and Red Skelton.

The first of two films co-starring Powell and Skelton, Ship Ahoy is mostly remembered for including Frank Sinatra, who appears in an uncredited performance as a singer with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

The movie boasts a stunning sequence in which Powell’s character, needing to communicate a message to US agent in the audience of one of her shows, taps out the message in morse code.

Skelton and Powell next paired up in Minnelli’s 1943 I Dood It, in which they appeared with Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy’s brother.

Tallulah Winters, a dancing star hired to perform on ocean liner, is recruited by a branch of the American government and asked to smuggle a prototype explosive mine out of the country.  She is unknowingly working for Nazi agents who have stolen the mine.

Meanwhile, Merton Kibble (Red Skelton), a writer of pulp fiction but suffering from writer’s block, is on the same ship.  Soon he finds himself embroiled in Tallulah’s real-life adventure.

Bert Lahr, Tommy Dorsey, Buddy Rich, and Virginia O’Brien also appear in the movie.

Eleanor Powell as Tallulah Winters
Red Skelton as Merton K. Kibble
Bert Lahr as “Skip” Owens
Virginia O’Brien as Fran Evans
William Post Jr. as H. U. Bennett
James Cross as “Stump”
Eddie Hartman as “Stumpy”
Stuart Crawford as Art Higgins
John Emery as Dr. Farno
Bernard Nedell as Pietro Polesi
Tommy Dorsey as Himself
Frank Sinatra as Himself
Buddy Rich as Himself
Ziggy Elman as Himself
Moroni Olsen as Inspector Davis
George Watts as Hotel detective
Ralph Dunn as Flammer
William Tannen as Grimes