Cover Girl – film review

Cover Girl (Masters Of Cinema)Director: Charles VidorCover Girl (1944)

Cast: Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Phil Silvers

Run Time: 107 minutes

Format: Dual Format

Release Date: 13 Feb 2017

7/10

Jamie Havlin gives his verdict on one of the most lavish and successful Hollywood musicals of the 1940s, Cover Girl.

Firstly I should admit that I am no big fan of musicals. Okay, I was very fond of the song and dance routine in Hail, Caesar! last year but even La La Land failed to win me over the way it has countless others, enjoyable enough as I found it.

Cover Girl stars Rita Hayworth as Rusty Parker, a chorus line dancer working in a modest Brooklyn night club owned by her boyfriend Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly).

A swell looking dame, Rusty learns of a cover girl competition from a fellow dancer and decides to try her luck, hoping that winning it might accelerate her path to fame and fortune.

Despite her plan almost being sabotaged by a so-called friend, Rusty is chosen as the latest Vanity cover girl by magazine magnate John Coudair, a man who by a complete coincidence had fallen in love decades earlier with Rusty’s grandmother Maribelle Hicks, who just happens to be a dead ringer for Rusty – Maribelle is also played by Hayworth in a series of flashbacks which add little to the plot.

Almost immediately Rusty is being touted as the next big thing and Danny’s club begins attracting the Manhattan in-crowd. Of course, this ignites interest from other night spots and theatres hoping to lure Rusty from Brooklyn to Broadway and Coudair’s wealthy friend, Noel Wheaton, leads the race, offering her a starring role in a spectacular show where thousands see her every time she stepped on to the stage.

Not only that but he also wants to marry Rusty, who will quickly be torn between her new bigtime profile and her previous life with McGuire, the man she so obviously loves. I would guess that you might just be able to work out how the story will end.

Cover_Girl_still

At this point in the mid 1940s, Hayworth was American’s sweetheart, one of the biggest box office attractions in the world and a G.I. pin-up rivalled only by Betty Grable. Kelly’s career was on the rise, although after the success of Cover Girl he quickly began vying with Fred Astaire for the title of America’s top hoofer.

The chemistry between Hayworth and Kelly is excellent here and Hollywood musical aficionados will likely feel suitably razzle-dazzled by the end of this Technicolor extravaganza though I doubt anyone would find the plot particularly satisfying and I wouldn’t necessarily want to put money on the average viewer of today being able to hum a single tune from the film a week after seeing it.

Although largely a showcase for the talents of Hayworth (who does all her own dancing but whose vocals are dubbed), it’s Kelly who steals the show with a highly inventive turn where he is accompanied not by Hayworth but by his own superimposed reflection which begins to act as a kind of alter ego as the pair (of sorts) dance along a late night deserted street.

Extras include a short featurette where Baz Luhrmann gives his thoughts on the film and a 28 page booklet.

Trivia: Hayworth married Orson Welles during the filming of Cover Girl.

~

For more on the film, visit Eureka Masters of Cinema.

All words by Jamie Havlin. More writing by Jamie can be found at his Louder Than War author’s archive.

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2 comments on “Cover Girl – film review”

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  1. Next time, PLS let a WOMAN review this very feminist film. I saw it in black and white as a child. Seeing it in color only made me fall in love with it more.

    It’s the universal story of FEMALE conflicts. About love and career. How big of a career? Does she give it up or compromise it for love?

    Rusty’s grandmother gave up her career and riches. But she lived a wonderful, loving life. Rusty talks about that. IT IS PART OF THE PLOT. Her grandmother inspires her to choose Danny.

    The older songs were included for many reasons. First, Rita Hayworth looked FAB in those corseted dresses.

    Next, many in the audience remembered the old time musicals, which were HUGE not that long removed from the 1940s. Turn of the century settings were a theme in MANY 1940s movies. “Meet Me in St Louis” anyone? I could compile a huge list off the top of my head.

    Thirdly, the flashbacks are “lovely to look at”* and delightful to hear. Plus fun dancing.

    Finally, are you telling me those flashback songs were what, worthless? OMG. Obviously not a musical fan. Both songs were delightful and ADDED to the plot.

    Please, we MUST mention the songs dealing with WW2!! It OPENS about the sacrifices Americans were making. It starts with this great energy and DOES NOT LAG.

    Guess the reviewer was waiting for what, some shoot ’em ups or what?

    “Make Way for Tomorrow” was a great song to keep American spirits up when being attacked by both Japan and Hitler.

    These were songs of HOPE, of SACRIFICE, of what Americans were willing to do for LIBERTY. For the RIGHT to CHOOSE how we live our lives. On a small or large stage. Literally.

    Went right over the reviewer’s head.

    In fact, ALL the songs either amplified or moved the scene/story forward. PLUS some serious commentary about modern life. Still applicable to current events. SMH.

    I could detail further, but why waste my time responding to someone who is WRONG for this review? He says he doesn’t like musicals.

    Jerome Kern wrote the hummable music and as always, Ira Gershwin memorable lyrics. HOW DARE anyone diss Kern and Gershwin?? Especially in their FIRST collaboration.

    I can’t remember anything from La La Land, but I can recite lyrics and hum from most of the songs from Cover Girl.

    How about the colorful fashions? The COLOR cinematography? The revolutionary dancing choreographed mostly by Gene Kelly, whose mother owned a dance studio, and talented Stanley Donen.

    Plus Eve Arden steals every scene she’s in. She is dressed fabulously too! Phil Silvers never displayed his musical talents better, either. Known more as a comic, his character balanced the quieter, more withdrawn Kelly.

    Obviously, the reviewer has little use for all that. Maybe he prefers CGI??

    *Lovely to Look At: Google it. Hint, a song title. Music by … Jerome Kern. Connect the dots. Or get a MUSICAL MOVIE fan or someone with a more open mind willing to actually Google. Context helps.

    Oh heck, I was a kid and didn’t need any of that. It had GENE KELLY, gorgeous Rita (THE sex symbol of WW2), and that lovely music. I’ve seen it countless times. Even at LACMA for the experience of seeing it on a huge screen. Lovely to Look at and delightful to hear.

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