Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly: “Put Me to the Test”

From Cover Girl (1944). Directed by Charles Vidor (same director as Gilda). Starring Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth. It is, putting it mildly, NOT a film noir. It’s a musical comedy, having to do with high-fashion, Broadway, class differences, Brooklyn vs. Manhattan, and love. Rita Hayworth is to die for, especially in color, where you can see her red hair and (best of all) her flushed cheeks. Makeup shmakeup, she looks fresh and flushed and beautiful.

Hayworth was a phenomenal dancer, athletic and enthusiastic, passionate, her back-bending movements, the head thrown back. Watch her leap.

She and Gene Kelly, the ultimate in athleticism and grace, have a couple of great numbers in Cover Girl, but this one is the best. There are so many levels: those stairs, that curvy ramp. They leap around all of them, and it seems precarious (won’t they trip?) but of course they never do. The world is their oyster. (Pun, if you’ve seen the movie, which has an ongoing oyster joke).

What you get in this number, rigorous though it is, is a sheer joy in what their bodies can do, the story they are telling.

The hours of rehearsal to get this right and then to get the spirit into it must have been insane.

But watch them fly.

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5 Responses to Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly: “Put Me to the Test”

  1. Barb says:

    Now I’ve got to add Cover Girl to my list! I’ve read about it but never seen it–

    Don’t you wish things like this would happen more often in movies these days?

    • sheila says:

      I know! The filming of dance scenes, in particular – it’s practically a lost art. Now it’s all quick cuts and flashy-dash – so you can’t ever SEE the movements. It’s so frustrating.

      Look at how the camera stays back – so we can see both of them at the same time – no closeups – it’s a performance – the camera is the proscenium – and so I feel totally satisfied because I get to sit back and watch the dance.

      Side note: a recent movie that did this – let the camera just CATCH the dancing as opposed to quick-cuts – was Magic Mike XXL. What is great about this is that there is no trickery: you can tell those guys are REALLY doing all that. Yes, it would have been fun to have more close-ups as they were dancing – but if you do that too much – it adds a level of “trickery” to it – even if there is none.

      Keep the camera back, move with the dancers, choose cuts very carefully – and you’re going to capture these amazing performances!!

      Cover Girl is fun. Oh, and Eve Arden, as a snooty casting director for the high-fashion magazine looking for a new cover girl. I love her!!

  2. sheila says:

    Gene Kelly also does an awesome dance with himself – or a hologram version of himself – mirroring his movements – a duet between Gene Kelly and Gene Kelly. I’ll see if it’s on Youtube. This is where he really gets to show his stuff – as a solo artist.

  3. sheila says:

    Cool. Readers – go check it out. Or check out the whole movie!

    Working on a Rita Hayworth project right now.

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