COVER GIRL [1944 / 2016] [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray + DVD] [UK Release] The Most Brilliant Musical of Our Time! Too Thrilling For Words! They Set It To Music, Romance, Dance and Song!

One of the most lavish and successful Hollywood musicals of the 1940s, Charles Vidor’s ‘COVER GIRL’ is a breath-taking spectacle that established its stars Rita Hayworth [‘Gilda’ and ‘The Lady from Shanghai’] and Gene Kelly [‘Singin in the Rain’], as the two most popular actors of their time.

Nightclub dancer Rusty Parker [Rita Hayworth] has a happy life performing at her boyfriend Danny McGuire [Gene Kelly] club in Brooklyn, but her whole world changes once she wins a prestigious “Cover Girl” contest arranged by a wealthy magazine editor John Coudair [Otto Kruger]. Rusty Parker soon becomes a Broadway sensation, but is fame and fortune a substitute for true love?

Also starring is the legendary Sergeant Bilko himself, Phil Silvers [‘The Phil Silvers Show’ and ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World’] and the recipient of 5 Academy Award® nominations and winning for Best Musical Scoring. ‘COVER GIRL’ was Columbia Pictures studios first Technicolor musical, and remains one of the finest musical pictures of all time. The Masters of Cinema series is proud to present the film for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK in a stunning Dual-format edition.

FILM FACTNo.1: Awards and Nominations: 1944 Academy Award®: Win: Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture for Carmen Dragon and Morris Stoloff. Nominated: Best Cinematography in Color for Allen M. Davey and Rudolph Maté. Nominated: Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration in Color for Cary Odell, Fay Babcock and Lionel Banks. Nominated: Best Sound Recording for John P. Livadary (Columbia SSD). Nominated: Best Music in an Original Song for Jerome Kern (music) and Ira Gershwin (lyrics) for the song "Long Ago and Far Away."

FILM FACTNo.2: The film was Rita Hayworth's fourth musical: the first two she had done opposite Fred Astaire. Rita Hayworth's singing voice was dubbed by Martha Mears. The film features cameo appearances by Jinx Falkenburg and Anita Colby as themselves, and an appearance by Shelley Winters, early in her career, as one of the young autograph hounds. Rita married Orson Welles during the filming of ‘COVER GIRL.’

Cast: Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, Lee Bowman, Phil Silvers, Jinx Falkenburg, Leslie Brooks, Eve Arden, Otto Kruger, Jess Barker, Anita Colby, Curt Bois, Jean Colleran, Francine Counihan, Helen Mueller, Cecilia Meagher, Betty Jane Hess, Dusty Anderson, Eileen McClory, Cornelia B. von Hessert, Karen X. Gaylord, Chery Archibald, Peggy Lloyd, Betty Jane Graham, Martha Outlaw, Susann Shaw, Rose May Robson, Grace Albertson (uncredited), Lucille Allen (uncredited), Jackie Barnett (uncredited), Jack Boyle (uncredited), Linda Brent Betty Brodel (uncredited), Edward Brophy (uncredited), Sally Cairns (uncredited), Sherry Cameron (uncredited), Glenn Charles (uncredited), Eddie Cutler (uncredited), George Dobbs (uncredited), Virginia Gardner (uncredited), Helene Garron (uncredited), Marion Graham (uncredited), Diane Griffith (uncredited), Eddie Hall (uncredited), Eloise Hart (uncredited), Randolph Hughes (uncredited), Miriam LaVelle (uncredited), Johnny Mitchell (uncredited), Muriel Morris (uncredited), Miriam Nelson (uncredited), Al Norman (uncredited), Kathleen O'Malley (uncredited), Barbara Pepper (uncredited), Larry Rio (uncredited), Patti Sacks (uncredited), Gwen Seager (uncredited), Virginia Wilson (uncredited), Shelley Winters (uncredited), Rudy Wissler (uncredited) and Ronald Wyckoff (uncredited)

Director: Charles Vidor

Producer: Arthur Schwartz

Screenplay: Virginia Van Upp (screenplay), Marion Parsonnet (adaptation), Paul Gangelin (adaptation), Erwin S. Gelsey (story) and John H. Kafka (uncredited)

Composers: Carmen Dragon (uncredited), E.Y. Harburg (songs and lyrics), Fred W. Leigh (songs and lyrics), Henry E. Pether (songs and music), Ira Gershwin (songs and lyrics), Jerome Kern (songs and music), Morris Stoloff (score) and Saul Chaplin (score)

Cinematography: Allen M. Davey and Rudolph Rudolph Maté (Director of Photography)

Image Resolution: 1080p (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Audio: English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio
Music and Effects Track: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio

Subtitles: English

Running Time: 107 minutes

Region: Blu-ray: Region B/2 and DVD: PAL

Number of discs: 2

Studio: Columbia Pictures / Masters of Cinema

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘COVER GIRL’ [1944] was a lavish Technicolor musical with a theatrical background, and showcased Columbia Picture's top star, Rita Hayworth and became much more than that due to the chemistry between Rita Hayworth and co-star Gene Kelly, the innovative choreography of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, and the musical score by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin, which yielded at least one standard, and several other very good songs. As Tony Thomas writes in The Films of Gene Kelly, “In the history of the Hollywood musical ‘COVER GIRL’ marks a major turning point, a transitional point at which the long-familiar concept of the film musical as a string of songs strung together by a skimpy plot gave way to a broader concept in which the musical sequences would form a part of the plot.”

Okay, so maybe Rusty Parker [Rita Hayworth] doesn't exactly have her name up in lights on Broadway, but Rita Hayworth carved out a pretty terrific life for herself in the Big Apple and is one of the star attractions in the intimate little club in Brooklyn, plus Rusty Parker has a thing going with the ridiculously good looking choreographer, Danny McGuire [Gene Kelly] who owns the joint. Rusty Parker doesn't just like to stick around with her best buddy guys, especially cracking oysters open every Friday night with them in the hope of unearthing a big, beautiful pearl and especially when they are practically roommates. It's a happy, cosy life. Oooohhh, but there's an itch Rusty Parker can't help but scratch, and when ritzy fashion magazine Vanity puts out an open call for a fresh-faced cover girl, she's right there in line with half of the other twenty something’s in New York.

Rusty Parker ego is not all that bruised when she takes the wrong advice and blows her audition with fashionista Cornelia “Stonewall” Jackson [Eve Arden], stepping onto the stage at Danny McGuire's afterwards with every bit as much enthusiasm and pizzazz as ever. As luck would have it, Vanity's head honcho John Coudair [Otto Kruger] happens to be in the crowd, eyeing some other talent, and he's immediately smitten. Turns out Rusty Parker is a dead ringer for her dearly departed grandma, the love of Mr. John Coudair's life, so guess who makes it onto the cover of Vanity in a few weeks later; I know a star is born! Crowds are lined up out the door, Danny McGuire's club is overflowing with photographers, newspaper reporters, autograph hounds, and bouquets of roses, and I haven't even gotten into the whole thing with big-time Broadway producer Noel Wheaton [Lee Bowman] yet! Noel Wheaton has his eye on a new starlet and a blushing bride, transforming a love triangle into a love quadrilateral. Everyone but everyone knows what they're trying to get out of Rusty Parker, but gulp, but what does Rusty Parker want out of all this and we sure find, to the detriment to her up close and personal friendship with Danny McGuire [Gene Kelly].

There is kind of a lot to love about ‘COVER GIRL’ and I am a sucker for the genre backstage Hollywood musicals, and especially Rita Hayworth in full Technicolor splendour and sure do sweeten the plot. This 1944 film is the first musical where Gene Kelly was given full reign over his choreography and staging, and he makes the most of this early opportunity, including the awesome show-stopping number in which Gene Kelly dances alongside himself! Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, and co-star Phil Silvers are seen having such a blast together on-screen, that it is absolutely contagious. The musical numbers by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin, are most memorably for the Academy Award® nominated instant classic “Long Ago (and Far Away).” There is definitely something to be said about the endlessly charm of pairing Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth together, and they are surrounded by a particularly terrific supporting cast, also the choreography inspires more than a little awe, and the songs are superhumanly catchy. Does it blaze any brave new, previously uncharted territory? Not really, but in a word, ‘COVER GIRL’ is a great deal of dazzling Technicolor fun, and that is exactly what I want out of a Hollywood musical of this genre.

As an added inside information bonus on the film ‘COVER GIRL,’ did you know that Columbia Pictures gave Gene Kelly carte blanch over  the making of this film, and many of his ideas contributed to its lasting success. Gene Kelly removed several of the soundstage walls so that Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, and Phil Silvers could dance along an entire street in one take. Gene Kelly also used brilliant trick photography so that he could dance with his own reflection in the sequence “Alter-Ego Dance” which he achieved by using superimposition to give his “double;” a ghost-like quality. Gene Kelly, along with Stanley Donen, devised his own choreography.

Another of the pleasures of the film ‘COVER GIRL’ is the ever delightful and the brilliant Eve Arden, in one of her best performances as a fashion magazine executive. Eve Arden’s acid wit and perfect timing keep the over-the-top glamour in perspective. Eve Arden would have a long and successful career playing similar sidekick characters, most notably in ‘Mildred Pierce’ [1945]. Rita Hayworth remembered the making of ‘COVER GIRL’ as a bright spot in her sometimes tumultuous life and career. “We had a sensational time with Gene Kelly and Phil Silver. I knew we had a rapport and they were both so great to work with. It was a happy time. I didn't know we were doing anything special, but you knew it was going to be good because it felt good making it.” Rita Hayworth had another reason to be happy; and was married Orson Welles during the making of the film.

‘COVER GIRL’ was one of the biggest hits of the year, and made both Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly into top stars. M-G-M, which hadn't quite known what to do with Gene Kelly in the two years he had been under contract, suddenly paid attention. They next teamed Gene Kelly with Frank Sinatra in ‘Anchors Aweigh’ [1945], and gave him again a free hand in creating his dance numbers. Columbia Pictures bought the film rights to Gene Kelly's stage hit, “Pal Joey,” hoping to team Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth once more. But M-G-M refused to loan out Gene Kelly again, now that he had become one of their most valuable properties around at the time. Columbia Pictures eventually made ‘Pal Joey’ in 1957, with Frank Sinatra in the lead role and Rita Hayworth played not the “cute,” but the rich older woman who has an affair with Pal Joey.


THE SHOW MUST GO ON (uncredited) (Music by Jerome Kern) (Lyrics by Ira Gershwin) [Sung and Danced by Rita Hayworth (dubbed by Martha Mears), Leslie Brooks, and chorus]

WHO'S COMPLAINING? (uncredited) (Music by Jerome Kern) (Lyrics by Ira Gershwin) [Sung by Phil Silvers and danced with Rita Hayworth, Leslie Brooks and two chorus girls]

SURE THING (uncredited) (Music by Jerome Kern) (Lyrics by Ira Gershwin) [Performed by Rita Hayworth and dubbed by Martha Mears]

MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (uncredited) Music by Jerome Kern) (Lyrics by Ira Gershwin and E.Y. Harburg) [Sung and Danced by Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth (dubbed by Martha Mears); Phil Silvers]

PUT ME TO THE TEST (uncredited) (Music by Jerome Kern) (Lyrics by Ira Gershwin) [Sung by Gene Kelly] [Danced by Gene Kelly with chorus and Rita Hayworth] [Comedy reprise by Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers]

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY (uncredited) (Music by Jerome Kern) (Lyrics by Ira Gershwin) [Performed by Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth and dubbed by Martha Mears]

POOR JOHN! (Written by Fred W. Leigh Henry E. Pether) [Performed by Rita Hayworth (dubbed by Martha Mears) and danced with male chorus]

ALTER-EGO DANCE (uncredited) (Music by Jerome Kern) [Danced by Gene Kelly]

COVER GIRL (THAT GIRL ON THE COVER) (uncredited) (Music by Jerome Kern) (Lyrics by Ira Gershwin) [Sung by chorus; danced by Rita Hayworth with chorus]

Blu-ray Image Quality – Film preservationist Robert A. Harris has said that, from the look of things, the pristine Technicolor elements for ‘COVER GIRL’ apparently were not in any sort of usable shape when the film was re-mastered for high definition release. I have had nothing but the most enthusiastic praise to lavish upon the other titles I've seen from the Masters of Cinema that has been brought to Blu-ray discs, and ‘COVER GIRL’ is dizzyingly of the highest standards. The general appearance does strike me as definitely distinct definition in detail and the optical crispness and clarity can look variable sometimes, perhaps suggesting that this HD master was culled from a variety of sources. ‘COVER GIRL’ is bright, vivid and an explosion of Technicolor whimsy, especially with its bursts of colour. I would also say wow; this is how all Technicolor musicals should look on a Blu-ray disc. Especially in one wonderful shot of studio-shot fantasy Cover Girl hints at the film it could be. Smoke covers the top of the Technicolor frame like clouds, from which a large winding path leads down looking like it is a few sharp angles away from being pulled from German Expressionism. Rita Hayworth in the most glamorous gown around sashays down this road from Olympus to a platoon of nicely dressed fancy lads looking up to her as a queen. ‘COVER GIRL’ is really a lovely nice looking Technicolor Blu-ray disc. It is also appreciated as ever that the sheen of grain hasn't been digitally altered anyway, and the 1080p encoded image is totally lavished with a high enough bitrate to accommodate that filmic texture look. There is no wear or damage to speak of whatsoever. The image is without hesitation sufficiently well-defined and richly detailed to outclass anything a standard inferior DVD could ever hope to capture or achieve. The clarity of each film grain certainly speaks to how much care and consideration went into bringing ‘COVER GIRL’ to the Blu-ray format. I do feel Masters of Cinema did the most masterful job possible in the given likely available elements, and I am thrilled to be able to experience such an infectiously charming film in 1080p Technicolor high definition. ‘COVER GIRL’ gave me a great deal of dazzlingly glorious experience I have had the pleasure of watching on this Blu-ray disc, and I can certainly understand why those with more of a casual interest might be hesitant to spend the price you have to pay for this Blu-ray, but it is all well worth the cost. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘COVER GIRL’ boasts a very respectable 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio soundtrack and you also get as a bonus the Music and Effects Track in 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio monaural. Clarity and fidelity don't belie ‘COVER GIRL’ the age of the film, but is entirely appropriate for a musical of this vintage. The dialogue and musical numbers alike are rendered as cleanly and clearly one could possibly hope to hear. The audio is free of any pops, clicks, dropouts, or distortion. This audio soundtrack is precisely what I would hope it would be and gets full praise indeed. The 1.0 Linear PCM mono track is also in fine shape and boasts a better clarity and dynamic range than you might expect for a film made in 1944 and then again, the makers of musicals did tend to go the extra mile on sound quality, and that's reflected in how good the music and dialogue plays here. What a shame with all the modern audio technology about, that they could not convert the Mono track into full Stereo.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Gorgeous 1080p 4K High-definition Technicolor restoration presentation.

Special Feature: Baz Luhrmann on ‘COVER GIRL’ [2016] [1080p] [1.78:1] [4:21] Here we get an exclusive interview with the ‘Moulin Rouge’ director Baz Luhrmann about the film ‘COVER GIRL.’ This is a slightly misleading title, is that Baz Luhrmann talks more on the actress Rita Hayworth, with the film ‘COVER GIRL’ cited only as an example in this  brief but interesting appreciation of her talents as an actress and a dancer. Here Baz Luhrmann also comments on the fact that most people do not class Rita Hayworth as a dancer, but as we witness in the film ‘COVER GIRL’ Rita Hayworth is a very accomplished dancer. Baz also comments that the other dancing partner Rita has danced with was Fred Astaire. What is also very dramatically cinematography of Rita Hayworth is showing off her poise and especially the way the actress moves, because Baz feels Rita Hayworth is very athletic, strong and moves with incredible grace, but is also incredibly graceful at the same time, but also very effortless in her movements. To show examples of what Baz is commenting on, we get certain clips emphasising the dancing technique of Rita Hayworth. Because Baz only hints at the film ‘COVER GIRL,’ whereas instead the special feature should have been renamed as “Baz Luhrmann on Rita Hayworth.”

Masters of Cinema Exclusive Trailer [1944] [1080p] [1.37:1] [2:06] Here we are presented with a Masters of Cinema exclusive Original Theatrical Trailer of ‘COVER GIRL.’ This Original Theatrical Trailer was created specifically for this Masters of Cinema Blu-ray release, and is a seductive sell and is far superior to what was viewed on the Twilight Time Blu-ray Release.

PLUS: A wonderful printed double sided Blu-ray cover. Sadly there is no information who designed the Blu-ray Cover.

BONUS: A beautiful designed 28 booklet featuring new writing on the ‘COVER GIRL’ film. It has a brilliant historic look at the film by Farren Smith Nehme entitled COVER GIRL. It has some stunning Technicolor images from the film. It also has a nice section on the POSTER GALLERY which includes quite a few rare overseas posters. All in all this is a totally brilliant bonus.

Finally, the ‘COVER GIRL’ film is a totally deliriously fun and infectiously catchy musical that makes for a very inspired addition to your Blu-ray eclectic Masters of Cinema library. I've been so wholly impressed with the label's other releases to date and adding ‘COVER GIRL’ brings you a strikingly beautiful Technicolor fantasy, and I have to admit that this is a brilliant Masters of Cinema presentation. It also shows us one of the most lavish and successful Hollywood musicals of the 1940s, as well the peak in the careers of both Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. Though it does strike me as a very meticulous re-master of the best quality available of the elements on hand, and the authoring of the Blu-ray disc leaves no room for any complaint. ‘COVER GIRL’ is still to this day very much a must have Blu-ray disc and I have been blown away by what Masters of Cinema has done with this Blu-ray disc and it has now as you might expect, gone pride of place in my ever increasing Gene Kelly Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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