Film – Cover Girl
Director – Charles Vidor
Stars – Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, Lee Bowman, Phil Silvers
Category – Musical
Year – 1944
Cover Girl is the story of dancer Rusty Parker (Hayworth), a nightclub dancer that has desires to be a Broadway star. She enters a contest to be the next ‘Cover Girl’ as an attempt to advance her career. The publisher of the contest John Coudair (Otto Kruger) is reminded of his lost love, showgirl Maribelle Hicks, who was Rusty Parker’s grandmother. Hicks was engaged to Coudair but broke off the engagement when she realized that she loved another. Rusty wins the contest and is torn between the life she knows and the life that is beckoning her.
I must admit this is not a film that most who know me would think is even on my radar. I chose this film based on several things. One is we can see Rita Hayworth at her alluring best dancing and acting. I do not think most people realize how close it was to being Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth instead of Ginger Rogers. Rita was born Margarita Carmen Cansino, and dancing was in her blood.
If you think about the time and look at the early pictures of Rita Hayworth, I cannot imagine what she endured to look less Latina and more anglicized. Her hairline was altered, and skin lightened, and this was in the 1930s.
The other thing about this film is likely was propelled Gene Kelly into the stratosphere as a star. Kelly was under contract to MGM and they really did not know what to do with him. Columbia pictures acquired him for this picture and let him have creative direction of his material. Kelly excels at the numbers Put Me to The Test and Alter Ego. With his dance routines here, you can see the beginning of the evolution that would result in Singin in the Rain a few years later. Kelly used his creativity to remove sound stage walls so that the dance numbers could be long tracking shots.
This was the first Technicolor film for Columbia Pictures, and it made for the visual scenes to pop with the red color of Hayworth’s hair, and the visually stunning scenes. The song from this film Long Ago and Far Away lost the Oscar, but it has since been recorded and covered over 80 times.