Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tonight's Movie: Tonight and Every Night (1945)

Over the years I've written occasionally here of my fond memories of seeing countless films in the revival theaters of Los Angeles in the '70s and early '80s, especially at the Vagabond Theater on Wilshire Boulevard.

Looking back at all the movies seen at the Vagabond, the Tiffany, the County Museum of Art, and elsewhere, I've discovered that of all the classics seen, I remember the films of Rita Hayworth with particular warmth. Her movies seemed to epitomize all that was great about films of the '40s, whether she was singing and dancing "I'm Old-Fashioned" with Fred Astaire, joyously marching down the street singing "Make Way For Tomorrow" with Gene Kelly, or slinking across the screen as the sultry temptress GILDA.

Two of Hayworth's films especially stand out in my memories: YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942) with Fred Astaire, which represents the black and white magic of the "silver screen" at its best, and the Technicolor London Blitz musical TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945). I saw TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT at the Vagabond on three different occasions, then watched it a couple of times on video, and most recently I revisited it tonight via the beautiful new print which is part of the Films of Rita Hayworth DVD collection, released last fall.

Earlier this evening I came across a blog review which excoriated TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT as one of Hayworth's "worst" films. I couldn't read more than a couple lines, and as I clicked away I mused how interesting it is that something which is so very special to one viewer could be loathed by someone else. But I suppose it's always been that way and always will be!

For me, TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT is Technicolor musical magic, plain and simple. My feelings for the movie may be a melding of my reaction to the film itself and my happy film-going memories, but seeing the film again I was reminded just how good it really is. Indeed, a review at Turner Classic Movies a while back correctly referred to the film as "underrated." (Unfortunately TCM's links are currently in a mess, and a listing for that review leads to a dead end.) The film has excellent acting, a sharp and mature script, and particularly memorable theme music with the Oscar-nominated Cahn-Styne song "Anywhere."

The movie is a compelling tale of the Blitz, with Rita Hayworth, Janet Blair, and Marc Platt as the stars of a London theater which manages to remain open despite nightly bombings of the city. (The story was loosely based on the Windmill Theatre and the play HEART OF THE CITY by Lesley Storm.) The theatrical side of the story is balanced with a nicely told romance between Hayworth and Lee Bowman as a Canadian member of the RAF; indeed, it's told with a sophistication not always typical of the era, nor is the ending exactly what audiences expected in 1945.

Hayworth has never been more beautiful than she was in this film, exquisitely shot by Rudolph Mate. Mate filmed Hayworth many times, including COVER GIRL (1944), GILDA (1946), and DOWN TO EARTH (1947). Hayworth gives an extremely appealing performance as the American working in London, coping with the Blitz and uncertain about her developing feelings for Paul (Bowman). Along with her excellent acting, Hayworth has several opportunities to show off her outstanding dancing abilities.

Bowman, for that matter, has never been better. He's derided far too often as a dull leading man, but he was perfect in this film, and consequently I've always had a soft spot for him. The scene where Bowman and Hayworth are reunited backstage as Judy (Blair) sings "Anywhere" is unforgettable; if I could bottle that single scene, I'd label it "1940s movie magic."

Janet Blair is excellent as Judy; her British accent may come and go, but she's quite charming and carries many of the film's vocal duties, including the title song.

Speaking of singing, Hayworth was dubbed by Martha Mears, who does well, although I think Nan Wynn's voice in other Hayworth films was a better vocal match.

The gifted dancer Marc Platt is still with us, having turned 97 last December. Platt had danced on Broadway, including in the cast of OKLAHOMA!, and TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT was his first film. He has a stunning introduction dancing to the radio, including the voice of Hitler. (2015 Update: Since I first wrote this, IMDb has unearthed a bit role Platt had in a film which precedes this, as well as appearances in a couple of shorts.)

Platt later teamed with Hayworth again in DOWN TO EARTH (1947), a spinoff of HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (1941), with Edward Everett Horton and James Gleason reprising their roles from the earlier film and Hayworth as Terpsichore, goddess of the dance. In 1954 Platt was part of some of the greatest dancing ever put on film when he played Daniel in SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS. He's retired in Northern California, and occasionally I see an article about him, such as this 2005 piece in the Seattle Times.

The film runs 92 minutes. It was produced and directed by British-born Victor Saville.

The supporting cast includes Leslie Brooks, Florence Bates, Philip Merivale, Ernest Cossart, Jim Bannon, and Dusty Anderson, who shortly thereafter married director Jean Negulesco.

The TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT DVD includes a trailer and a nice introduction to the film by actress Patricia Clarkson.

In addition to the DVD, this movie has also been released on VHS and shown on Turner Classic Movies. It's not currently on Netflix, but it can be saved in the queue for when it's available in the future.

April 2014 Update: Dancer Marc Platt Dies at 100.


Blogger Kevin Deany said...

Laura: A wonderful write-up of one of my favorite Rita Hayworth films.

I really like the non-competitive relationship that Rita's and Janet Blair's characters have. It was so refreshing to see Rita in that kind of relationship with another woman. It gives the film an added glow.

I haven't purchased the Rita Hayworth DVD box set yet, but hope to soon.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Kevin, glad to know someone else has such positive feelings for this film. :) You make an excellent point I overlooked in my post -- the warm friendship of the Hayworth and Blair characters is quite special.

I hope you'll soon be enjoying the Hayworth set too!

Best wishes,

8:44 AM  

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