Showman Jerry Travers is working for producer Horace Hardwick in London. Jerry demonstrates his new dance steps late one night in Horace’s hotel, much to the annoyance of sleeping Dale Tremont below. She goes upstairs to complain and the two are immediately attracted to each other. Complications arise when Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace.
In 1964, atomic war wipes out humanity in the northern hemisphere; one American submarine finds temporary safe haven in Australia, where life-as-usual covers growing despair. In denial about the loss of his wife and children in the holocaust, American Captain Towers meets careworn but gorgeous Moira Davidson, who begins to fall for him. The sub returns after reconnaissance a month (or less) before the end; will Towers and Moira find comfort with each other?
Ballet star Pete “Petrov” Peters arranges to cross the Atlantic aboard the same ship as the dancer he’s fallen for but barely knows, musical star Linda Keene. By the time the ocean liner reaches New York, a little white lie has churned through the rumor mill and turned into a hot gossip item: that the two celebrities are secretly married.
Lovely Linda Mason has crooner Jim Hardy head over heels, but suave stepper Ted Hanover wants her for his new dance partner after femme fatale Lila Dixon gives him the brush. Jim’s supper club, Holiday Inn, is the setting for the chase by Hanover and manager Danny Reed. The music’s the thing.
Danny O’Neill and Hank Taylor are rival trumpeters with the Perennials, a college band, and both men are still attending college by failing their exams seven years in a row. In the midst of a performance, Danny spies Ellen Miller who ends up being made band manager. Both men compete for her affections while trying to get the other one fired.
Wealthy American Jervis Pendleton III (Fred Astaire) has a chance encounter at a French orphanage with a cheerful 18-year-old resident, Julie Andre (Leslie Caron). He anonymously pays for her education at a New England college. She writes letters to her mysterious benefactor regularly, but he never writes back. Her nickname for him, “Daddy Long Legs”, is taken from the description of him given to Andre by some of her fellow orphans who see his shadow as he leaves their building. Several years later, he visits her at school, still concealing his identity. Despite their large age difference, they soon fall in love.
Fred Astaire (Tom) and Jane Powell (Ellen) are asked to perform as a dance team in England at the time of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding. As brother and sister, each develops a British love interest, Ellen with Lord John Brindale (Peter Lawford) and Tom with dancer Anne Ashmond (Sarah Churchill–Winston’s daughter).
In 1911, minor stage comic, Vernon Castle meets the stage-struck Irene Foote. A few misadventures later, they marry and then abandon comedy to attempt a dancing career together. While they’re performing in Paris, an agent sees them rehearse and starts them on their brilliant career as the world’s foremost ballroom dancers. However, at the height of their fame, World War I begins.
Lucky is tricked into missing his wedding to Margaret by the other members of Pop’s magic and dance act, and has to make $25,000 to be allowed to marry her. He and Pop go to New York where they run into Penny, a dancing instructor. She and Lucky form a successful dance partnership, but romance is blighted by his old attachment to Margaret and hers for Ricardo—the band leader who won’t play for them to dance together.
When the fleet puts in at San Francisco, sailor Bake Baker tries to rekindle the flame with his old dancing partner, Sherry Martin, while Bake’s buddy Bilge Smith romances Sherry’s sister, Connie. But it’s not all smooth sailing—Bake has a habit of losing Sherry’s jobs for her and, despite Connie’s dreams, Bilge is not ready to settle down.
A musical remake of Ninotchka: After three bumbling Soviet agents fail in their mission to retrieve a straying Soviet composer from Paris, the beautiful, ultra-serious Ninotchka is sent to complete their mission and to retrieve them. She starts out condemning the decadent West, but gradually falls under its spell, with the help of Steve Canfield, an American movie producer.