Romance, Comedy, Musical | 107 Mins | Released: 1944
Director: Charles Vidor
Starring: Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, Lee Bowman, Phil Silvers, Jinx Falkenburg, Leslie Brooks, Eve Arden
Our Rating: 7
John Coudair (Otto Kruger) was wounded long ago when his fiancée called off their engagement, and when he spots the woman’s granddaughter, comely stage performer Rusty Parker (Rita Hayworth), he’s reminded of what he lost. A publishing mogul, he decides to put the naive young beauty on the cover of his magazine. Although he might lose her, Rusty’s boyfriend, Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly), refuses to interfere with her path to success. Ultimately, she must decide between riches and romance.
Columbia Pictures originally wanted to use Warner Bros. star Dennis Morgan for Cover Girl, but when Kelly’s project at MGM, Dragon Seed, was postponed, MGM extended their loan of Kelly to Columbia, allowing this film to be made with him. Columbia’s production head, Harry Cohn, was initially opposed to having Kelly do the film, but producer Schwartz nevertheless obtained him, promising Kelly that he would be able to choreograph, which MGM had not allowed him to do.
Columbia gave Kelly almost complete control over the making of this film, and many of his ideas contributed to its lasting success. He removed several of the soundstage walls so that he, Hayworth, and Silvers could dance along an entire street in one take. He also used trick photography so that he could dance with his own reflection in the sequence “Alter-Ego Dance”, achieved using superimposition to give his “double” a ghost-like quality. Kelly, along with Stanley Donen, devised his own choreography.
Film historians consider Cover Girl the point where Kelly hit his stride in a musical role that foreshadowed the best of his future work.
Cover Girl was Columbia’s first Technicolor musical, and songwriter Arthur Schwartz’s first venture into producing. The film was a big hit, and made stars out of both Hayworth and Kelly.
The success of Cover Girl caused MGM to pay closer attention to Kelly as a viable property, and they allowed him to create his own dance numbers for his next film, Anchors Aweigh (1945), also starring Frank Sinatra. Columbia bought the film rights to Pal Joey, which Kelly had done on Broadway, hoping to pair up Kelly and Hayworth again, but MGM refused to loan him out, and instead the film was made with Sinatra playing the lead.