Cover Girl

1944, Movie, NR, 105 mins


Triumph of style over substance, Hayworth over all. Charming musical built on a skimpy plot but boasting a score by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin that includes some of their best work, notably "Long Ago and Far Away," which even Kelly's reedy pipes couldn't ruin. Kelly saves the best dance for himself, the "Alter Ego" number which is really two dances filmed separately and synchronized together. The other stand-out number is "Make Way for Tomorrow," a roughhouse morning-after number danced by Kelly, Hayworth, and Silvers. COVER GIRL's plot has Hayworth moving from a Brooklyn chorus to become top magazine model, predictable conflict of ambition vs. love. The editorial offices, based on a combination of Conde Nast and Harry Conover (whose beautiful models are seen in the film), lend a 40s-elan and sheen to the film, and the addition of the wise-cracking, always welcome, Eve Arden.

This would be the peak of sweetheart roles for Hayworth, before her shift into dangerous siren territory, and her sumptuous Technicolor candybox beauty was the apotheosis of her era's ideal. She never sang in her musicals--here she is dubbed by Martha Mears--but she danced in an expressive way more akin to acting than athletics. Her passive personality made her a partner equally at home with Astaire or Kelly. She was more of an actress than Cyd Charisse, more elegant in her sensuality, less a traditional tap and ballroom dancer than Ginger Rogers. The sense of longing and abandonment Hayworth brings to her character in COVER GIRL helps her to transcend the formulaic plot; when she dances, it's the only time she looks happy. The film also remains notable for ably incorporating its musical numbers into the storyline. leave a comment

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