Cover Girl Reviews
1944's "Cover Girl," the film that made a star out of Gene Kelly and captured Rita Hayworth at the pinnacle of her fame, oftentimes comes close to getting crushed under the weight of its own insipid formula. But because Kelly and Hayworth are even flashier dancers than Rogers and Astaire, because the tunes are performed enthusiastically, because the Technicolor photography is eyegasmic, and because it has the kinetic pomp to undo its plodding plot-based circumstance, there is enough excellence within it to deem it something special. There's a reason why Hayworth and Kelly have remained legends while Betty Grable and Dan Dailey have stayed put as cultural artifacts - they have unbreakable star quality that breaks the confines of period taste. And they're more than just a little bit talented, though I'm sure you already knew that.
It's an effective showcase for both. Hayworth headlines as Rusty Parker, a voluptuous chorus girl working for Danny McGuire (Kelly), a club manager who also serves as her boyfriend. Rusty is the type that would be content doing the same job for the rest of her life - she adores Danny and adores dancing, singing. Though she's hardly lucrative, she's doing what she loves.
Her predictable routine, however, is put on hold when opportunity for superstardom arrives. It is announced that "Vanity" magazine is looking for their latest cover model; naturally, they're seeking a fresh face to give fame to, and all the girls of the city come flocking to the periodical's headquarters for an interview. Rusty, predictably, is hired, but not merely because she's one of the most beautiful women to walk the Earth. It also has something to do with the way she is a near replica of her grandmother, with whom "Vanity's" editor (Otto Kruger) was in love during his youth.
Immediately, she's a hit with audiences, who are fond of her beauty and soon find out about her spot in Danny's show. Her popularity promises Broadway stardom, and it's quick to find her. But Rusty is torn between her love of Danny and career potential - if she remains a part of his act, she'd have the ability to work with her cherished boyfriend until things get more serious. But if she diverges, there's a chance her popularity could get in the way and harm their relationship. Rusty wouldn't mind staying small time, but Danny reacts brashly, thus prompting her to swim in the waters of notoriety. Conflict arises when Noel Wheaton (Lee Bowman), the playboy friend of a stage producer, becomes romantically interested in her.
The plot of "Cover Girl" is forced and foreseeable and maybe all too reminiscent of one you'd find in a Broadway musical that never flew. But its assembly line substance doesn't much matter because everything else is so radiant. Hayworth and Kelly are talented actors, sure, but the second they make may for the dance floor we know we're in for something special. The songs are similarly strong, unsurprising consider their being written by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin. The costumery and photography is warmly lavish.
So it's all nicely decorated and nicely extravagant - like most musicals, its looks and feelings are of utmost importance, meaning and great value not so much of a concern. It's all light as a feather, really. But because it has terrific leads and because it's manufactured efficiently, "Cover Girl" is a movie musical with a touchable glow.
This Technicolor film has one or two decent numbers and I was surprised how nimble Phil Silvers is on his toes. He dances well with Kelly and Hayworth. As always Eve Arden is as humorous as ever and Gene Kelly used his artistic control fairly well.