Cast & Crew
Eager to attain fame and glory, chorine Maxine Martin enters a contest to be a Vanity magazine cover girl. Inspired by Maxine's initiative, Rusty Parker, a fellow dancer at Danny Maguire's Brooklyn nightclub, also enters the contest. The women are interviewed by Cornelia Jackson, the assistant to magazine publisher John Coudair. When Jackson expresses an interest in Rusty, Maxine sabotages her rival's chances by telling her that Jackson is looking for a model with a brash personality. Consequently, when Rusty sashays into her office, Jackson dismisses her as a "gland case." Jackson then proposes Maxine as a candidate for the cover, and Coudair insists on going to Danny's club to see her in her "natural environment." At the club, Coudair is enchanted by Rusty, who reminds him of his long-lost sweetheart, Maribelle Hicks. Coudair recalls a night forty years earlier when he saw Maribelle dance at Tony Pastor's club and fell hopelessly in love. After her performance that night, Rusty joins Danny and Genius, another entertainer at the club, at Joe's oyster bar, where they engage in their Friday night ritual of searching for a pearl to bring them luck. When the three return to their apartment house, Rusty finds a telegram from Coudair, inviting her to his office the next day. Fearful that Coudair's offer will endanger the trio's close friendship, Genius tears up the telegram, but after he retires to his room, Rusty pieces it back together. Rusty keeps her appointment with Coudair, and when the publisher learns that Maribelle Hicks was her grandmother, he awards her his magazine's cover. Danny is crestfallen when Rusty's issue appears on the newstands, arguing that she should achieve success with her feet and not her face. Drawn by Rusty's notoriety, crowds begin to flock to Danny's club, and one day, Coudair brings Broadway theater owner Noel Wheaton to meet Rusty and offer her a job. After Rusty rejects his overture, Wheaton tries to woo her with armloads of roses. When Wheaton's strategy fails, Coudair joins forces with him to lure Rusty to Broadway. To achieve his goal, Coudair sends Rusty an invitation to Vanity 's 50th anniversary dinner. Rusty informs Danny that she plans to miss her performance at the club to attend the party, prompting an argument. Coudair summons Danny to pick up Rusty after the party, and Danny arrives at the Coudair mansion to find the house deserted except for his host. After admonishing Danny to free Rusty so that she can move on to a better life, Coudair recalls the day he introduced Maribelle to his society matron mother. When his mother disapproved of their romance, Maribelle threatened to return to her piano player sweetheart. As Coudair remininsces about the past, Wheaton drives Rusty to his luxurious Broadway theater, and she cavorts on the deserted stage. After leaving Coudair's house, Danny joins Genius at Joe's to wait for Rusty. When she fails to appear, Danny, after tortuous self-reflection, decides to sever his relationship with her. The next day, Rusty is late for rehearsal, and Danny gives her song to Maxine to perform. Rusty protests and storms out of the club, bound for Broadway. After making Rusty a star, Wheaton offers to make her his wife, and she agrees to give him an answer the following day. That night Rusty drives to Danny's club and discovers that Danny has closed his establishment and left town with Genius to entertain at army camps. She then goes to Joe's, where Wheaton and Coudair later find her, drunk. Although she accepts Wheaton's proposal, Coudair realizes that she is desperately unhappy. When Danny and Genius learn of Rusty's impending marriage, they come home to Brooklyn and Joe's. As Joe informs them that Rusty's wedding is to take place that night, Danny cracks open an oyster and finds a pearl. Determined to reunite the lovers, Genius takes the pearl to Coudair and asks him to deliver it to Rusty. Aware that Rusty is a most unhappy bride, Jackson exhorts Coudair to rectify his mistake of breaking up Rusty and Danny. As Coudair escorts Rusty down the aisle to the sound of the wedding march, he hands her the pearl and completes his story of his romance with Maribelle, revealing that Maribelle deserted him at the altar for her piano player. Heartened by Coudair's tale, Rusty realizes that she belongs with Danny, and as the minister recites the wedding vows, she announces that she is leaving. Still dressed in her wedding gown, Rusty hurries to Joe's and is there reunited with Danny and Genius in a joyful dance.
Betty Jane Hess
Cornelia E. Von Hessert
Karen X. Gaylord
Betty Jane Graham
Rose May Robson
Robert F. Hill
Eugene Anderson Jr.
William R. Anderson
Oscar Boetticher Jr.
Allen M. Davey
P. J. Faulkner
Hoffman & Coburn
Fred W. Leigh
Henry E. Pether
M. W. Stoloff
Virginia Van Upp
Best Music Original Dramatic Score
Best Art Direction
Best Sound Editing
Kelly plays Danny McGuire, who owns a Brooklyn nightclub. He's in love with Rusty Parker, one of the club's dancers. Rusty wins a contest to be the cover girl for a fashion magazine, partly because the editor was once in love with her grandmother, whom Rusty resembles. The attention the contest generates also gives her an opportunity to star in a Broadway show. But it also threatens her relationship with Danny. The showbiz background provides plenty of excuses for performance, from hilariously shabby in Danny's Brooklyn dive, to an extravagant Broadway production number to rival Busby Berkeley's. But it's Kelly and Donen's inventiveness in the non-stage musical numbers that give the film excitement.
The first thing Columbia head Harry Cohn did was assign Virginia Van Upp to write another draft of the script that had already been through seven or eight writers. She tailored it for Hayworth and did such a good job that she was promoted to Hayworth's producer, eventually producing Gilda (1946). Then Cohn hired songwriter Howard Schwartz to produce Cover Girl, even though Schwartz had never produced before. This was Hayworth's third musical, and the first one in color. Her first two had been with Fred Astaire, a hard act to follow.
Cohn at first resisted Schwartz's suggestion of Gene Kelly. "That tough Irish face! He can't be in the same frame as Rita, my Rita," Schwartz recalls Cohn saying. Schwartz nevertheless followed his instincts and borrowed Kelly from MGM, promising him that he could choreograph, which he hadn't been allowed to do at MGM. Kelly brought with him Stanley Donen, a young dancer who had appeared with him on Broadway in Pal Joey. It was their first collaboration, and the first chance Kelly had to try out his ideas about dance on film. The most spectacular result is what came to be known as the "Alter Ego" number, a psychological drama in dance, with Kelly arguing and dancing with his inner self. The number was shot twice, with a fixed-head camera, and Donen standing next to it, calling out the timings for the cameraman. "It was the most difficult thing I've ever done, a technical torture," Kelly later recalled.
Most of the musical numbers in Cover Girl were used to advance the plot. In "Make Way for Tomorrow," Kelly, Hayworth, and Phil Silvers express cheery optimism about the future as they cavort through a late-night Brooklyn street. "Long Ago and Far Away," set in the club after hours, expresses the couple's romantic longing through Kern and Gershwin's gorgeous song. The title song is a splashy production number featuring more than a dozen real-life cover girls. Jinx Falkenburg, the supermodel of the era, also has a small role in the film, as does model/actress/beauty consultant Anita Colby.
Another of the pleasures of Cover Girl is Eve Arden, in one of her best performances as a fashion magazine executive. Her acid wit and perfect timing keep the over-the-top glamour in perspective. Arden would have a long and successful career playing similar sidekick characters, most notably in Mildred Pierce (1945).
Hayworth remembered the making of Cover Girl as a bright spot in her sometimes tumultuous life and career. "We had a sensational time with Gene and Phil. I knew we had a rapport - they were both so great to work with. It was a happy time. I didn't know we were doing anything special, but you knew it was going to be good because it felt good making it." Hayworth had another reason to be happy. She married Orson Welles during the making of the film.
Cover Girl was one of the biggest hits of the year, and made both Hayworth and Kelly into top stars. MGM, which hadn't quite known what to do with Kelly in the two years he'd been under contract, suddenly paid attention. They next teamed him with Frank Sinatra in Anchors Aweigh (1945), and gave him a free hand in creating his dance numbers. Columbia bought the film rights to Kelly's stage hit, Pal Joey, hoping to team Kelly and Hayworth once more. But MGM refused to loan Kelly again, now that he'd become one of their most valuable properties. Columbia eventually made Pal Joey in 1957, with Frank Sinatra in the lead. Hayworth played not the ingénue, but the rich older woman who has an affair with Joey.
Cover Girl was nominated for five Academy Awards, but won only one, for the musical scoring, which went to Carmen Dragon and Morris Stoloff. "Long Ago & Far Away" was nominated for Best Song, but lost to "Swinging on a Star," a novelty number from Going My Way (1944). Cover Girl was also nominated for Best Sound Recording, Best Color Cinematography, and Best Art Direction. Awards for the latter two categories went to Wilson (1944), leading a disgruntled Harry Cohn to say, "Well, at least it took two priests and a U.S. President to beat us!" "Long Ago and Far Away," however, became an instant standard that is still beloved today, while that year's Oscar® winner is remembered mostly as a quirky novelty song.
Director: Charles Vidor
Producer: Arthur Schwartz
Screenplay: Virginia Van Upp, Marion Parsonnet, Paul Gangelin, based on a story by Erwin Gelsey
Cinematography: Rudolph Mate, Allen M. Davey
Editor: Viola Lawrence
Costume Design: Travis Banton, Gwen Wakeling, Muriel King, Kenneth Hopkins
Art Direction: Lionel Banks, Cary Odell
Music: Carmen Dragon, Morris Stoloff
Principal Cast: Rita Hayworth (Rusty Parker), Gene Kelly (Danny McGuire), Lee Bowman (Noel Wheaton), Phil Silvers (Genius), Leslie Brooks (Maurine), Eve Arden (Cornelia Jackson), Otto Kruger (John Coudair).
by Margarita Landazuri
TCM Remembers - Budd Boetticher
When director Budd Boetticher died on November 29th, American film lost another master. Though not a household name, Boetticher made crisp, tightly wound movies with more substance and emotional depth than was apparent at first glance. Instead of a flashy style, Boetticher preferred one imaginatively simple and almost elegant at times. Because of this approach films like The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and Ride Lonesome (1960) have withstood the test of time while more blatantly ambitious films now seem like period pieces.
Budd was born Oscar Boetticher in Chicago on July 29th, 1916. With a father who sold hardware, Boetticher didn't come from a particularly artistic background. In college he boxed and played football before graduating and heading to Mexico to follow what's surely one of the most unusual ways to enter the film industry: as a professional matador. That's what led an old friend to get Boetticher hired as a bullfighting advisor on the 1941 version of Blood and Sand. Boetticher quickly took other small jobs in Hollywood before becoming an assistant director for films like Cover Girl. In 1944, he directed his first film, the Boston Blackie entry One Mysterious Night. Boetticher made a series of other B-movies, like the underrated film noir Behind Locked Doors (1948), through the rest of the decade.
Boetticher really hit his stride in the 50s when he began to get higher profile assignments, including the semi-autobiographical The Bullfighter and the Lady in 1951 which resulted in Boetticher's only Oscar nomination, for Best Writing. Sam Peckinpah later said he saw the film ten times. Other highlights of this period include Seminole (1953) (one of the first Hollywood films sympathetic to American Indians), the stylishly tight thriller The Killer Is Loose (1956) and the minor classic Horizons West (1952). In the late 50s, Boetticher also started directing TV episodes of series like Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.
In 1956, Boetticher started a string of films that really established his reputation. These six Westerns starring Randolph Scott are known as the Ranown films after the production company named after Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Actually the first, Seven Men from Now (1956), was produced by a different company but all of them fit together, pushing the idea of the lone cowboy seeking revenge into new territory. The sharp Decision at Sundown twists Western cliche into one of the bleakest endings to slip through the Hollywood gates. The Tall T examines the genre's violent tendencies while Ride Lonesome and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) have titles appropriate to their Beckett-like stories. The final film, Comanche Station, appeared in 1960.
That was the same year Boetticher made one of the best gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, before watching everything fall apart. He and his wife decided to make a documentary about the famous matador Carlos Arruza and headed to Mexico. There Boetticher saw Arruza and much of the film crew die in an accident, almost died himself from an illness, separated from and divorced his wife (Debra Paget), and then spent time in various jails and even briefly a mental institution. This harrowing experience left him bankrupt but he still managed to complete the film, Arruza (1968), which gathered acclaim from the few who've been able to see it.
Boetticher managed to make just one more film, My Kingdom For... (1985), a self-reflexive documentary about raising Andalusian horses. He also made a cameo appearance in the Mel Gibson-Kurt Russell suspense thriller, Tequila Sunrise (1988). He died from complications from surgery at the age of 85.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Budd Boetticher
Rita Hayworth's singing was dubbed by Martha Mears.
This picture marked Gene Kelly's first significant venture into film choreography. Although Val Rasset and Seymour Felix are credited with staging the film's dance numbers, Kelly actually devised the routines performed by his character "Danny" according to the Variety review, and was assisted by Stanley Donen, who had previously worked with Kelly on Broadway. The Variety review hailed Kelly's synchronized dance with his inner conscience (often called the "Alter Ego" number in modern sources) as "one of the top performances of this type ever to be screened." According to a February 1, 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item, Columbia originally wanted to borrow Dennis Morgan from Warner Bros. to play "Danny." According to July 1943 Hollywood Reporter news items, Kelly was to return to M-G-M by mid-September 1943 to begin shooting Dragon Seed. After that film was temporarily canceled, M-G-M extended Kelly's loan to Columbia. The picture marked the producing debut of former composer and screenwriter Arthur Schwartz. It was also Columbia's first Technicolor musical.
A February 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Virginia Van Upp's screenplay won her a promotion to associate producer. The film also featured the first screen collaboration of composers Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin.
Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about the production: From April to May 1942, Garrett Fort and Virginia Kellogg were hired to write the film's screenplay, but by September 1942 Harry Segall was slated to write it. The extent of all three writers' contribution to the released film has not been determined, however. According to a July 1942 news item, Janet Blair was to star with Rita Hayworth and Jinx Falkenburg. May 1943 news items announced that Irving Cummings was replacing William A. Seiter as director. According to a August 4, 1943 news item, John Halliday was originally slated for the role of "John Coudair." Although various news items, publicity items and production charts add Marjorie Jackson, Betty Brody, Johnny Mitchell (as Douglass Drake) and Robert Stanford to the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Other Hollywood Reporter news items noted that the cover girls featured in the film were the actual models who appeared in the magazines. The dance numbers were filmed simultaneously by three cameras, one set up for close-ups, one for long shots and one for medium shots. This method was employed to cut down the number of takes needed for the dance sequences, according to Hollywood Reporter.
Modern sources add the following information: Martha Mears dubbed the singing voice of Rita Hayworth; Robert Coburn, who shot some of the magazine covers, was the head of the Columbia stills department. In his autobiography, songwriter Saul Chaplin states that he worked as assistant musical director on the picture and that Alex Romero assisted Kelly and Stanley Donen. Chapin also asserted that Kelly directed, as well as staged, the "alter ego" number. Modern sources also add Shelley Winters and Virginia Wilson to the cast. The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Color Cinematography and Best Color Art Direction, and the song "Long Ago and Far Away" was nominated for Best Song. The picture won the Academy Award for Best Score.
Released in United States July 2009
Released in United States March 1977
Released in United States Spring April 6, 1944
Shown at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Treasures from the Film Archives) July 3-11, 2009.
Released in United States March 1977 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Mighty Musical Movie Marathon) March 9-27, 1977.)
Released in United States Spring April 6, 1944
Released in United States July 2009 (Shown at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Treasures from the Film Archives) July 3-11, 2009.)