Poor Man's 'Singin' in the Rain'
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like 'Singin' in the Rain', 'Cover Girl' has a trio of two guys and a girl. In 'Cover Girl', Phil Silvers (Genius) is the comic relief. He corresponds to Donald O'Connor's funny man part in 'Singin in the Rain'. In Cover Girl, Gene Kelly's love interest is Rita Hayworth and in 'Rain', it's Debbie Reynolds. That's where the comparison ends.
Whereas "Singin' in the Rain' is a classic American movie musical, 'Cover Girl' is mediocrity incarnate. The story isn't very complicated. Rusty Parker (Rita Hayworth) is a dancer in Danny MacGuire's low-rent nightclub in Brooklyn. Rusty decides to enter a Cover Girl contest sponsored by a wealthy publisher, John Coudair, who made an unsuccessful play for Rusty's grandmother years ago. Coudair introduces Rusty to Broadway producer Noel Wheaton who makes her into a star. Danny feels slighted when Rusty starts showing up late for rehearsals at the nightclub and decides to close the club down and go on the road entertaining the troops along with his sidekick, Genius. At the last minute, with Rusty at the altar with Noel, she realizes the error of her ways and runs back to Danny. They live happily ever after.
Gene Kelly has the least developed part in the movie. All we find out about him is that he owns a nightclub and is madly in love with Rusty. Coudair and Wheaton act like besotted teenagers toward Rusty and Phil Silvers delivers some thoroughly goofy but unfunny shtick. The most interesting aspect of Rita Hayworth's performance is the scene in which she gets drunk. This foreshadows what happened to her in real life. Anyone who has read her biography will learn that she disliked Hollywood, pined away for a normal home life which she could never attain but eventually began drinking and ended up with full-blown Alzheimer's during the last years of her life.
Almost all of the songs in Cover Girl are old-fashioned and not very tuneful. Gene Kelly has only one really excellent dance number and that's the scene where he dances with his 'alter ego'. Earlier, the trio has another number which is a pale precursor of 'Make em Laugh' from 'Singin' in the Rain'.
The most annoying thing about 'Cover Girl' is the way in which Rita Hayworth is put up on a pedestal. A couple of decades later, Raquel Welch had the same problem. Both actresses later in their careers would always try and find scripts that showcased their acting abilities. They wanted to be known as 'actresses' and not 'pinup girls'. Unfortunately, 'Cover Girl' is an example of how Hollywood used to exploit women for financial gain.