Cover Girl (1944)

Cover Girl
Phil Silvers, Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly

'Cover Girl' is a musical film made in 1944, directed by Charles Vidor and starring Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly and a young Phil Silvers. A non-MGM musical which was hugely successful at the box office, the movie features songs by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin and was one of the most popular musicals of the decade. It contributed greatly to the reputation of both Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth who became major stars as a result.

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography and Best Original Song for one of Jerome Kern's biggest ever sellers, 'Long Ago (and Far Away)', winning one Oscar for Best Musical Score.

'Cover Girl' was intended as a vehicle to showcase the talents and beauty of Rita Hayworth. She plays Rusty, a chorus girl who is given an opportunity by Vanity Magazine's John Coudair, played by Otto Kruger, to hit the big time as a cover girl, but she's also in love with Danny McGuire, played by Gene Kelly, the owner of the dancing club where she works. The film is based round her dilemma. Should she leave the man she loves to fulfill her dream? The film uses flashback to illustrate Coudair's old flame who happens to be the grandmother of Rusty. Rita Hayworth plays the grandmother as well as Rusty and does a number in the costume and style of a Victorian music hall performer.

Gene Kelly was on loan to Columbia by MGM and he was given almost total control in the making of the movie. He choreographed his own dances including the brilliant "Alter-Ego Dance", in which he partners himself, or rather his superimposed shopfront image. 'Cover Girl' was Rita Hayworth's third musical after 'You'll Never Get Rich in 1941 and 'You Were Never Lovelier' in 1942, both with Fred Astaire, and she is at her breathtaking best. Her dancing is just brilliant although her singing voice was dubbed. Phil Silvers plays Genius, Gene Kelly's best friend and it comes as a shock to see him dance but he does very well considering he is partnering two of cinema's greatest dancers, Kelly and Hayworth. There is also excellent support from Otto Kruger, Edward Brophy and, particularly Eve Arden as Cornelia "Stonewall" Jackson who almost steals the show with her cutting one liners.

In short, 'Cover Girl' is an engaging gem of a movie, and classic Hollywood musical entertainment.

Musical Numbers

"The Show Must Go On" (Jerome Kern - music, Ira Gershwin - lyrics) "Who's Complaining?" (Kern, Gershwin) "Sure Thing" (Kern, Gershwin) "Make Way For Tomorrow" (Kern, Gershwin, E.Y. Harburg - lyrics) "Put Me to the Test" (Kern, Gershwin) "Long Ago (and Far Away)" (Kern, Gershwin) "Poor John" (Henry E. Pether - music, Fred W. Leigh -lyrics) "Alter-Ego Dance" (Kern) "Cover Girl (That Girl on the Cover)" (Kern, Gershwin)

Main Cast

Rita Hayworth ... Rusty Parker and Maribelle Hicks
Gene Kelly ... Danny McGuire
Phil Silvers ... Genius
Otto Kruger ... John Coudair
Eve Arden ... Cornelia "Stonewall" Jackson
Lee Bowman ... Noel Wheaton
Jess Barker ... John Coudair, young
Edward Brophy ... Joe, Oyster Cook


Director ... Charles Vidor
Producer ... Arthur Schwartz
Screenplay ... Virginia Van Upp, John H. Kafkr (uncredited)
Original Story ... Erwin S. Gelsey, adapted by Marion Parsonnet, Paul Gangelin
Musical Score ... Saul Chaplin, Morris Stoloff
Songs, Music ... Jerome Kern, Henry E. Pether
Songs, Lyrics ... Ira Gershwin, E.Y. Harburg, Fred W. Leigh
Cinematography ... Allen M. Davey, Rudolph Maté
Distribution Company ... Columbia Pictures
Release date ... March 20, 1944
Running time ... 107 minutes

Academy Awards

One Win:
Scoring of a Musical Picture ... Carmen Dragon and Morris Stoloff
Four Unsuccessful Nominations:
Cinematography, Color ... Allen M. Davey, Rudolph Maté
Art Direction, Color ... Lionel Banks and Cary Odell, art direction; Fay Babcock, interior decoration
Best Original Song ... "Long Ago and Far Away", Cover Girl, Jerome Kern, music; Ira Gershwin, lyrics
Best Sound, Recording ... John Livadary