Columbia Pictures // 1944 // 107 Minutes // Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // July 23rd, 2012
A mirthful, magical musical!
Rusty Parker (Rita Hayworth, Gilda) performs nightly at Danny McGuire's place in Brooklyn. She's also in love -- with Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly, Singin' in the Rain). She's happy with her life -- but she wants more.
"More" comes to her when, through a series of lucky breaks and coincidences, she becomes the face of Vanity magazine -- a Cover Girl!
But Rusty's big break means big changes in her life -- and Danny's. For one, the club is filled every night with reporters, society types, and just folks who want to see the now-famous Rusty. It's good for business, not so much for morale. And speaking of business, Rusty's awfully busy these days with interviews and engagements -- a little too busy to show up on time for rehearsals and help maintain the place the way she used to.
Rusty's big break becomes even bigger when Broadway impresario Noel Wheaton (Lee Bowman, Buck Privates) decides he wants to cast Rusty as the star of his latest spectacular; and, of course, he falls in love with her, because pretty much everyone does.
Will Rusty leave Danny McGuire's -- and Danny McGuire -- and become a Broadway star? Will Danny and their eccentric friend, the comic Genius (Phil Silvers, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World), be able to go on without her? Will fashion editor Cornelia "Stonewall" Jackson (Eve Arden, Mildred Pierce) make one arch comment too many to her boss, the wealthy Mr. Coudair (Otto Kruger, High Noon), who 40 years earlier was in love with Rusty's look-alike grandmother? And will Rusty really give up her beloved Danny to marry Wheaton, simply because that's what Cover Girls do?
If you have to even consider these questions for a millisecond, then you've never seen a '40s musical.
Cover Girl is a bouncy, adorable musical from the decade when calling a musical "bouncy" and "adorable" wasn't a criticism. It's simple and fluffy, offers a great showcase for the gorgeous Rita Hayworth and the phenomenally talented Gene Kelly (who also choreographed much of this), features songs by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin, and gives Arden and Silvers the kind of plum "second-banana" roles that made them so enduring.
This was the first time Kelly was given the opportunity to have significant input as a choreographer, and his work is -- as always -- outstanding, particularly in the "Alter-Ego Dance," in which Danny works out his frustrations by dancing a duet with special-effects version of himself.
The film's a lot of fun, and I'm sure audiences of its time appreciated its "topicality," including cameo appearances by then-top models Jinx Falkenburg and Anita Colby, as well as a number by Phil Silvers that laments war-time rationing and takes shots at the Nazis. Also very much "of its time" is the slightly off-putting notion that Rusty's success is somehow tainted because it conflicts with Danny's comparatively modest dream of keeping his Brooklyn club going and making her his wife. A feminist statement this is not.
But Cover Girl isn't meant to make any kind of "statement" other than something along the lines of, this is life and have a good time.
And Cover Girl is definitely a good time.
I like Twilight Time releases, as they often give new life to films that have otherwise fallen into obscurity -- My Cousin Rachel, Rapture, and Violent Saturday, for instance. But the last Twilight Time offering I reviewed -- The Big Heat (Blu-ray) -- was a film that had already been released more than once on DVD and was hardly obscure; the same is true for Cover Girl, which has had two DVD releases, including one in December 2010 as part of a box set.
Frankly, the normally reliable Twilight Time offers a less-than stellar disc. Cover Girl (Blu-ray) just doesn't have that vivid Technicolor look; instead, the 1.37:1/1080p high definition full frame transfer looks a little dull, with colors inconsistent and contrast off. It's not terrible, it's just not up to the standards of other Twilight Time releases. The mono audio track is perfectly clear and agreeably clean.
There are no bonus features on this Blu-ray release. For once, an isolated music track would actually be a plus, but it's just not here. The only supplemental material comes by way of a booklet with a typically great Julie Kirgo essay.
A charming musical from a label I respect should add up to a recommend, but Twilight Time's release of Cover Girl (Blu-ray) is just not so hot.
Fun film, so-so disc.
Review content copyright © 2012 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Columbia Pictures
* Full Frame (1080p)
* DTS HD 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 1944
MPAA Rating: Rated