Friday 7 March 2014

Movie Review: Cover Girl (1944)

A bouncy and colourful musical with an engaging plot and plenty of character, Cover Girl suffers from relatively lacklustre musical numbers but excels at weaving the song and dance elements into its narrative.

Rusty Parker (Rita Hayworth) is a showgirl at a low-key Brooklyn show lounge owned and operated by boyfriend Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly) and his sidekick Genius (Phil Silvers). Rusty dreams of a big break, and enters a competition to be designated the fresh new face by a celebrity magazine. She eventually catches the eye of the magazine's elderly publisher John Coudair (Otto Kruger), and he places her on the cover. Coudair realizes that in his youth he dated and fell in love with Rusty's grandmother Maribelle (also Hayworth).

Rusty's new found celebrity bring plenty of business to McGuire's, and soon she attracts the attention of Broadway producer Noel Wheaton (Lee Bowman), who wants to launch her career on the big stage and also marry her. Rusty has to decide whether to leave McGuire behind, as she finds her life beginning to parallel her grandmother's.

Unlike many musicals of the era, Cover Girl works on its sharply written story and conjures up enough plot elements and doses of humour to maintain interest apart from the performance interludes. The introduction of Mirabelle's adventure in flashback is a clever touch, allowing director Charles Vidor to play with a history repeating itself theme.

The result is a film where the musical sequences flow with the narrative rather than interrupting it. But while both Hayworth and Kelly pour their energy into their routines, they rarely find a genuine spark. The show numbers are disappointingly bland and forgettable, the one exception being Kelly (in only his fourth film) cleverly dancing with himself through the deserted night streets.

Hayworth never looks less than stunning but cannot translate her visual impact to any genuine show-stoppers. It does not help that McGuire's is supposed to be a second-rate joint, giving licence for some of the stage antics to be intentionally average.

Phil Silvers brightens up his surroundings with a witty performance as Genius (an ironic nickname), the sometimes useful spare tire in the romance between Danny and Rusty. Otto Kruger gives depth to the role of John Coudair, a man whose memories and wisdom become ever more important at Rusty reaches the crossroads.

Cover Girl may not be in the absolute top tier of musicals, but it does land on the front page.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.