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Cover Girl

Regrettably, some Hollywood musicals do not age as well as others — it's a particular shame when they feature some of the classic era's most talented stars. In the case of Cover Girl (1944), Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth do their best with what must have a been a crowd-pleaser at the time. Hayworth stars as New York nightclub showgirl Rusty Parker, who has spent the better part of a year hoofing at a little club called "McGuire's," which happens to be owned by the all-singing, all-dancing Danny McGuire (Kelly). And, over the course of several months, the duo have fallen for each other on — and off — the stage. But when Rusty enters a contest to become a magazine cover-girl, she draws the attention of wealthy publisher John Coudair (Otto Kruger), who happened to court Rusty's showgirl grandmother many decades earlier. Rusty wins the cover, and also the heart of theater producer Noel Wheaton (Lee Bowman), who immediately tries to get her to leave the modest stage at McGuire's for the Great White Way. It doesn't take long for Danny to become jealous, and then Danny and Rusty have a falling out, and then it looks like Rusty and Noel might get married unless Danny swallows his pride and goes after the woman he loves, and… well, let's just say it's not so hard to see where this show will be closing. Which is one of the unfortunate things about Cover Girl — the talented cast weren't just a bunch of hoofers, they actually could act, but they have nothing more than a threadbare soap opera to work with. Which leaves the chief pleasures of the film to the actual production numbers. The most famous of the bunch is the "Alter-Ego Dance," wherein Kelly argues with his conscience (a semi-transparent double, courtesy of the day's movie magic) and then does an extended dance routine whilst hoofing both parts, which is a marvelous bit of cinema and a stunning display of detailed choreography. Kelly, Hayworth, and Phil Silvers kick up their heels in the lively "Make Way for Tomorrow," Kelly and Hayworth show off their tap skills in "Put Me to the Test," and Hayworth sweetly croons "Long Ago and Far Away." These numbers (with music and lyrics by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin) make the disc worth a spin for genre fans, but there are some clunkers in the batch as well, including Silvers' wartime lament "Who's Complaining?" and Hayworth's vaudeville "Poor John." And while Hayworth is a splendid dancer (and very nice on the eyes), she loses some of that red-headed mystique when one is reminded that her singing was dubbed in virtually all of her films. Thankfully, the supporting cast is reasonably enjoyable — in particular a sardonic Eve Arden as magazine editor Cornelia 'Stonewall' Jackson. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Cover Girl features a solid full-frame transfer (1.33:1 OAR) with monaural DD 2.0 audio. The print is in reasonably good shape with strong color detail, while the soundtrack is clear and pleasant. Trailer gallery, keep-case.

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