Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth and Phil Silvers star in the 1944 musical Cover Girl, a story of misunderstanding more than anything else and one of love when it comes right down to it. Kelly plays Danny McGuire, a nightclub owner who employs his friends Rusty, played by Hayworth and Genius as portrayed by Phil Silvers. Danny loves Rusty and Rusty loves him and life is good. They sing, they dance, they go out for oysters every Friday in the hopes of finding that one magical pearl and whether they find it or not, the three of them generally have the best of times. The friendship between Danny and Rusty as well as their love is put to the test though when Rusty becomes a famous cover girl and the more attention that is showered upon her seems to drive Danny further away. Like almost every good musical, it does have a happy ending though and eventually the two reunite and love wins out.
Cover Girl would be the film that would make big stars out of both Kelly and Hayworth and it is easy to see why. The two had great onscreen chemistry throughout the film and while the story and dialogue were good, it was the musical numbers by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin that really sold the movie and where Hayworth and Kelly would share some of their best moments together. A few of the songs were played for comedic effect and they worked adding a bit of lightheartedness to parts of the film where the drama started to get a bit heavy but it was the ballad Long Ago (and Far Away) that would be the most memorable of all the numbers. Everyone likes a ballad and that song more than any other is the one that people remember after seeing this film. Hayworth would not actually sing in the film, instead being dubbed over by another woman but was done so well as you would never know. To accompany the songs, or at least some of them, would be some dancing and most of it choreographed by Kelly himself. It was a smart move on the filmmaker’s part to let him do so as Kelly was always at his best when he had creative freedom to do as he wished, this film being one of the first examples of that. The best dance number and the one most think of when they mention this picture is where Kelly dances with his own mirrored self. A great bit of camera trickery for the time, not to mention the Kelly dancing at his best.
Dancing and singing aside, the film would give the viewer a few laughs and more than enough smiles as all the best musicals were wont to do. To help in this endeavor, Phil Silvers was recruited and he never failed to make this a reality. The man always seemed to have a smile on his face throughout the film and his caring yet carefree attitude really made him a joy to behold. Eve Arden would star in the movie as well, adding more than enough laughs of her own as the stodgy Miss Jackson and even Otto Kruger would end up giving the viewer a smile or two.
Directed by the legendary Charles Vidor, Cover Girl looked great and played great. It would go on to be a deservedly big success and considering everything that went into it, including the musical numbers and its stars; it was almost like it was preordained. Though initially most would have gone to see the film for Kelly, Rita Hayworth became a big hit with audiences and would soon be starring in many more films and go on to greater accomplishments in her career because of it. At times the film could be a bit ham-fisted and dated with some of the jokes being a little bit corny, but in all and at the end of the day, the film makes you feel good and you come away from it in a better mood than when you started it.