Cover Girl is the third musical made by Columbia on the back of Rita Hayworth’s charms, and their first featuring Gene Kelly, who here finds the freedom of invention denied to him until now by MGM. In truth, Rita’s grace shines brighter in black and white, as the sophisticated glamour of You Were Never Lovelier had shown, and as Charles Vidor himself knows – only in Gilda will he really be able to set the screen ablaze with the fiery red of her hair. It is the usual problem, Technicolor is not flattering to redheads, especially redheads with golden skin: the colour mixture is difficult to master, between locks of ‘Rusty’ hair, pancake turning cheeks too purple and lipstick never being the right hue. Hayworth, thanks to her experiences in the two films made under the iron discipline of Fred Astaire, is nonetheless dazzling in Make Way for Tomorrow (on a backdrop of Brooklyn, together with Kelly and Phil Silvers), an exuberant rehearsal for the Good Morning number from Singin’ in The Rain; while it is the Technicolor itself that envelops in a hallucinatory grace a number of pure photo-print attraction, cover girls parading along with their magazine covers.
Here, Kelly works once again with Stanley Donen, previously his assistant on Broadway; their partnership is cemented, one that will write the history of the genre. Cover Girl, tied by overly-consumed threads to the Thirties’ backstage story formula, pushes towards the rejuvenation of situations and atmospheres that will come to full fruition five years later in On the Town. The springing of the musical numbers from the flow of life, and not from the reasons of a show, does not really reach that mysterious magic that will give the great musicals of the Fifties their deepest meaning, but the mechanism has been set in motion. Irony is not missing: one narrative thread within the story takes the form of a whimsical doppelgänger, seeing Rita become the living reincarnation of her own grandmother, wooed in vain by a rich impresario; Kelly rebuts with his sensational double-dance scene, Alter Ego Dance, where he dances along the sidewalk challenging his own shadow (a very complicated scene, he remembers in his autobiography, rehearsed for over one month and choreographed by Donen, “without whom it would never have been possible”). The screenplay by Virginia Van Upp is not one of the most memorable, but how can one entirely dismiss a script that contains, between the old impresario softened by the sudden déjà vu and a caustic fortyish fashion editor, the following exchange: “What would you do if your youth should walk in through that door?” “I’d put braces on its teeth”.
Cast and Credits
Sog.: Erwin Gelsey. Scen.: Virginia Van Upp, Marion Parsonnet, Paul Gangelin. F.: Rudolph Maté, Allen M. Davey. M.: Viola Lawrence. Scgf.: Lionel Banks, Cary Odell. Mus.: Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Fred W. Leigh, Henry E. Pether. Int.: Rita Hayworth (Rusty Parker), Gene Kelly (Danny McGuire), Lee Bowman (Noel Wheaton), Phil Silvers (Genius), Jinx Falkenburg (Jinx), Leslie Brooks (Maurine Martin), Eve Arden (Cornelia Jackson), Otto Kruger (John Coudair), Jess Baker (John Coudair da giovane), Anita Colby (Anita). Prod.: Arthur Schwartz per Columbia Pictures Corp. ·DCP. Col.
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