Monday, October 01, 2018

TCM Star of the Month: Rita Hayworth

This October Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the centennial of actress-dancer Rita Hayworth, who was born in Brooklyn on October 17, 1918.

Rita is being honored as Star of the Month with her films showing every Tuesday.

Rita has been special to me since I saw her musicals at Los Angeles revival theaters when I was young. YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942) and TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945) were key films which stoked my love for classic films in general and musicals in particular, and COVER GIRL (1944) wasn't far behind.

The tribute starts in fine style on October 2nd with the two films she made with Fred Astaire, YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH (1941) and YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942). Astaire had known Rita since she was a young girl whose family appeared in vaudeville as The Dancing Cansinos, and it's sometimes said she was his favorite partner. YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER is particularly special to me, with its lilting Jerome Kern melodies and fantastic dances. It's true "silver screen magic"!

Also showing on the 2nd: MY GAL SAL (1942) with Victor Mature; an effective early role in Howard Hawks' classic ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939); BLOOD AND SAND (1941) with Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell (this film repeats on October 8th); and THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE (1941) with James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, and Jack Carson.

October 9th kicks off with what might be Rita's most famous film appearance, the title role in GILDA (1946). She sings "Put the Blame on Mame" and has a steamy love-hate relationship with Glenn Ford.

October 9th also features THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1948), costarring and directed by her then-husband, Orson Welles.

COVER GIRL (1944) is a bit long but very colorful and tuneful, featuring the Oscar-nominated "Long Ago and Far Away," written by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin. I also really like the cheery number "Make Way for Tomorrow." Rita costars with Gene Kelly, who has some wonderful dances -- including his famous "Alter Ego" number dancing with a reflection of himself -- but in the end it's Rita who truly makes the movie for me.

TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945) is one of my all-time favorite films, a warm, moving, and mature musical set during the London Blitz. Rita is seen in this still with costar Lee Bowman, with Janet Blair on stage in the background; dancer Marc Platt also stars. This is my top pick of the series, a really wonderful yet relatively unknown film which I treasure.

The evening concludes with THE LOVES OF CARMEN (1948), one of several films made with her longtime friend Glenn Ford.

On October 16th Rita stars with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak in PAL JOEY (1957). That's followed by another film with Glenn Ford, AFFAIR IN TRINIDAD (1952); MISS SADIE THOMPSON (1953) with Jose Ferrer; FIRE DOWN BELOW (1957) with Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon; and the costume drama SALOME (1953) with Stewart Granger and Charles Laughton.

The Hayworth festival concludes on October 23rd with  SEPARATE TABLES (1958), also starring a superb cast: Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Wendy Hiller, Gladys Cooper, and Rod Taylor.

The evening concludes with some lesser-known Hayworth titles from the '60s and '70s: THE STORY ON PAGE ONE (1960) with Anthony Franciosa, THE HAPPY THIEVES (1962) with Rex Harrison, THE BASTARD (1968), and THE WRATH OF GOD (1972), which reunited her with her FIRE DOWN BELOW costar Robert Mitchum.

For more on TCM in October 2018, please visit my posts TCM in October: Highlights and Quick Preview of TCM in October, along with TCM's complete online schedule.

Related post: A Visit to Holy Cross Cemetery, Part 1.


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