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Saturday, 4 August 2012

Cover Girl (1944) - Star of the month... Gene Kelly

'Cover Girl' is a 1944 musical comedy directed by Charles Vidor, and starring Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, Phil Silvers, Eve Arden, Otto Kruger and Lee Bowman. 'Cover Girl' features songs by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin, including the Oscar nominated song 'Long Ago (And Far Away)'.

Rusty Parker (played by Hayworth) is a chorus girl working at a nightclub owned by her boyfriend Danny McGuire (played by Kelly). When wealthy magazine editor John Coudar (played by Kruger) notices Rusty's resemblance to her grandmother, Maribelle Hicks (also played by Hayworth), who he'd been in love with many years earlier, Rusty is  offered the opportunity to be a cover girl for his magazine.

Musical program

Musical highlights include an ingenious and fascinating number where Gene Kelly dances with himself, and the classic 'Long Ago (And Far Away)'.

The musical program includes:
  • 'The Show Must Go On' - Rita Hayworth, Leslie Brooks & Chorus
  • 'Who's Complaining?' - Phil Silvers (with Rita Hayworth, Leslie Brooks & Chorus)
  • 'Sure Thing' - Rita Hayworth
  • 'Make Way For Tomorrow' - Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth & Phil Silvers
  • 'Put Me To the Test' - Gene Kelly (with Rita Hayworth)
  • 'Put Me To the Test' (Reprise) - Gene Kelly & Phil Silvers
  • 'Long Ago (And Far Away)' - Gene Kelly & Rita Hayworth
  • 'Poor John' - Rita Hayworth
  • 'Alter Ego Dance' - Gene Kelly (Dancing with Himself)
  • 'Cover Girl (That Girl on the Cover)' - Rita Hayworth & Chorus

Song: 'Alter Ego Dance' - Gene Kelly (dancing with Himself)

Song: 'Long Ago (And Far Away)' - Rita Hayworth & Gene Kelly

Song: 'Poor John' - Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth dresses as a cabby
Did you know...

Rusty (played by Rita Hayworth) is made over to be a
Cover Girl
  • Rita Hayworth's singing voice was dubbed by Martha Mears
  • This was Columbia Pictures' first Technicolor musical
  • Columbia had originally wanted Dennis Morgan to play Danny McGuire
  • Columbia had wanted Lauren Bacall (then unknown) to appear as the Harper's Bizarre cover girl - Bacall instead played the lead in 'To Have & Have Not' (1944) and became a star
  • This was the time Gene Kelly was able to choreograph his own dances - MGM had previously not allowed him to do so
  • To enable Gene Kelly to appear as if he is dancing with himself, duel footage of Kelly was superimposed over each other to give the ghost-like alter ego appearance
  • This was Rita Hayworth's third musical - previous musicals include 'You'll Never Get Rich' & 'You Were Never Lovelier', both with Fred Astaire
  • This was the first film produced by songwriter Arthur Schwartz
  • Columbia had hoped to reunite Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly some years later when they purchased the rights to 'Pal Joey' (a show which Kelly starred on Broadway) - MGM refused to loan Kelly, so the film was made with Frank Sinatra instead
Rita Hayworth & Gene Kelly dance

Awards and nominations

  • Academy Award winner for Best Musical Score
  • Academy Award nomination Best Art Direction
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song ('Long Ago (And Far Away)')
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording

Closing remarks

With it's lavish costume design and show stopping musical numbers, this was the closest to an MGM quality musical Columbia ever got - and possibly the best musical to come from Columbia.

Gene Kelly dances with himself in an
ingenious number from the film
Two members of the supporting cast deliver memorable performances - Phil Silver is hilarious as always, and Eve Arden steals every scene she is in.

Although initially intended to be a glamour showcase for Columbia's new star Rita Hayworth, the film made overnight stars of both Hayworth and Gene Kelly. It was the success of 'Cover Girl' which enabled MGM to take Gene Kelly serious as a creative force, which resulted in them giving him the opportunity to choreograph his future films.

A big hit at the time of it's release, 'Cover Girl' is still today considered to be one of the most popular musicals made during World War II.

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