Well, it’s February 17, and it’s time for another post of “Film Legends Of Yesteryear” featuring actress Rita Hayworth! This time, it’s her 1941 film You’ll Never Get Rich (which will be celebrating its 80th anniversary later this year), which also co-stars Fred Astaire! But, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, as we’ve got a theatrical short to start everything off!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Little Rural Riding Hood (1949)
(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)
(Length: 6 minutes, 19 seconds)
The city wolf invites his country cousin to the city, but cannot stop him from chasing after girls. It’s yet another take on the “Little Red Riding Hood” story by Tex Avery, although this time he throws in a parody of “The Country Mouse And The City Mouse” as well! The gags may be similar to the previous Red Riding Hood Tex Avery cartoons, what with all the wolf whistling and howling, etc. but it’s still a lot of fun! I’ll admit, it feels weird hearing Pinto Colvig voicing the country wolf, since I very much associate his voice with the Disney character Goofy, and what with all the girl chasing that his character does, it’s just so completely different from what I’m used to. But, no matter how weird it is to hear a different character with his voice, this cartoon is certainly worth a few good laughs!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Theatre owner Martin Cortland (Robert Benchley) has a thing for chasing after some of the ladies in his shows. His current target is dancer Sheila Winthrop (Rita Hayworth), and he buys her a diamond bracelet. However, she refuses it when he isn’t looking, and his wife, Julia (Frieda Inescort), finds it. He tries to alibi by saying that he bought it for his choreographer, Robert Curtis (Fred Astaire), who wanted to give it to Sheila. Julia doesn’t believe him, and threatens him with divorce. So, Martin tries to get Robert to help cover for him by going out with Sheila and giving her the bracelet (in front of Martin and Julia, of course). At first, Sheila is thrilled to go out with Robert since she has a crush on him, but when he gives her the bracelet, she leaves in a huff. However, a newspaperman had taken a photo of the two, and the next day, the headlines were that the two were practically engaged. Robert goes to her apartment to straighten everything out, but her boyfriend, Tom Barton (John Hubbard), decides to play a trick on Robert, chasing him away. He returns to the theatre, where Martin tells him that he has been drafted, much to Robert’s delight. Of course, even in the army, Robert finds himself in trouble when he dreams of Sheila and slugs the top sergeant (Donald MacBride), resulting in him being sent to the guardhouse. While he is in there, he sees Sheila outside, and tries to pass himself off as a captain inspecting the guardhouse (but, of course, she doesn’t believe him). When he gets out, he “borrows” a captain’s uniform to go visit her, but he finds himself in trouble when he discovers that Tom is a captain (and that he had “borrowed” the uniform of one of his friends). He is sent back to the guardhouse, but he is starting to get back in Sheila’s good graces again. While he is in there, Martin comes to see Colonel Shiller (Boyd Davis) and offers to put on a show for the men, with Robert’s help. Robert is enthusiastic about the idea, but he quickly learns that Martin plans to have his new mistress, Sonya (Osa Massen), be the leading lady for the show. Robert quickly puts the kibosh on that and casts Sheila instead. However, with Sonya pushing, Martin tries a different angle, by framing it so that it looks like Robert and Sonya are having an affair. At first, Sheila doesn’t believe it, but when she sees Robert’s surprise gift of the bracelet (you know, the one that started the whole mess) with Sonya’s name on it (Martin’s doing), she decides to leave both Robert and the show. To get revenge on Martin, Robert calls his wife Julia and has her come down to visit. With Sonya out of the picture, Robert convinces his friends Kewpie Blain (Guinn Williams) and Swivel Tongue (Cliff Nazarro) to create a word-of-mouth demand for Sheila to come back in the show. But, with Martin reticent to say anything about what really transpired, can Robert convince Sheila of the truth?
In 1941, Rita Hayworth was an up-and-coming star. She had scored some hits with the movies The Strawberry Blonde (for Warner Brothers) and Blood And Sand (for 20th Century Fox). But, she was under contract to Columbia Pictures (which hadn’t figured out what to do with her yet), and those two films were loan outs to rival studios. Not only that, she had been dancing professionally for years, having learned under her father Eduardo Cansino, but movie audiences didn’t exactly know it. So, when she was cast opposite famed dancer Fred Astaire (a friend of her father’s from vaudeville), she was finally given a chance to show what she could do. Not too far into the movie, they danced together, and she shows everyone that she is able to keep up with him quite easily. You’ll Never Get Rich was a success, propelling her to superstardom, and she was teamed up with Fred one more time a year later for You Were Never Lovelier.
You’ll Never Get Rich was one of three Fred Astaire musicals with a score provided by composer Cole Porter (four, if you count the song “Night And Day” being the only tune retained from the Broadway show for the film The Gay Divorcee). Of the three, I consider this the weaker score, but it’s still a lot of fun, and one or two songs usually get stuck in my head every time I watch it! And I’m certain to get a few good laughs out of Cliff Nazarro’s character of Swivel Tongue, who is prone to speaking in “double talk,” confusing some of the people he talks to. He even gets a shot at speaking it when drilling some of the other recruits (in a bit that reminds me strongly of Abbott and Costello’s “Drill Bit” routine from Buck Privates)! Sure, some things haven’t aged well, such as Robert Benchley’s theatre owner/producer and his reliance on the “casting couch” (not literal here, just referring to his chasing after some of the female cast members and offering them better roles), not to mention the wedding near the end of the movie (a little too much of a spoiler to say much else). However, it’s still a fun musical, and one I enjoy sticking on every now and then! So, I would certainly recommend seeing it!
What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)
This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the twelve film Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection from Mill Creek Entertainment or individually from Twilight Time. I think both Blu-rays use the same transfer (with minor differences, if any), which is quite good. Personally, I prefer the Twilight Time release, but, for the price and overall content, the twelve film collection from Mill Creek will do in a pinch.
Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Broadway Melody Of 1940 (1940) – Fred Astaire – Holiday Inn (1942)
Music In My Heart (1940) – Rita Hayworth – You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
Nice Girl? (1941) – Robert Benchley – The Major And The Minor (1942)
Music In My Heart (1940) – Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection – Tonight And Every Night (1945)
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