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Tonight And Every Night

26 Nov

Tonight And Every Night – directed by Victor Saville. Musical. Starring a loyal American girl drawn to leave by her romance with a Canadian flyer, still a London musical theatre stays open during the blitz. 92 minutes Color 1945.

★★★★★

Baz Lurhmann, in an Extra Feature, describes Rita Hayworth as a big tall girl.

Actually she weighed 120 and was 5 feet 6. She gave the impression of being tall because her male dance partners, Astaire and Kelly and others, were short, and because of her long, slender arms and legs, and because her rib cage was straight, and like many dancers, her hips were shallow. This gave her more of a long, tubular, model figure.

Jean Louis her designer at Columbia Pictures said of her, “She had a good body. It wasn’t difficult to dress her. She was very thin limbed, the legs were thin, the arms long and thin and beautiful hands. But the body was thick, She also had a belly then, [She was pregnant by Orson Welles.], but we could hide that.”

Jack Cole, who did her choreography, said, “She did not have a good figure, but she had beautiful breasts, beautiful arms and the most beautiful hands in show business …. As a young woman she was always a much more beautiful person than she photographed ‘cause they did really icky Columbia make-up for star ladies, with that too hard glossy mouth.

“She was a wildly good humored lady to work with, and she worked very hard. Not that she was wildly talented, but she was wildly suited to what she was doing at the time she was doing it. She was the sum total of a group effort – the way they dressed her, made her up, wrote for her, what she did with it, was a group job. What separates her from similar studio products is this inherent erotic thing of her own.”

So Sammy Kahn and Julie Styne will do the songs. Rudolph Maté films her in a way that gathers her up and continues to film her in a way that produces the Hayworth as we will come to know and admire. She will have a top supporting cast: that emerald lavaliere of an actress, Florence Bates will play the eventual Judy Dench part, Lee Bowman is the leading man, Marc Platt does a sensationally funny dance audition number, she has a couple of delightful cockney charwomen to give it a London lift. And Jack Cole will do her choreography, and go on to do it for her signature dance in Gilda. 

“You couldn’t treat her like a dancer – she could dance, but you couldn’t put that burden on her, she didn’t go to class every day .… I got to know what she could do facilely .… With Rita it looked like she really could do it, and more. There was the effect of ‘stand back I’m going to move now.’”

Since the dancer scheduled to do “What Does An English Girl Think Of A Yank” sprained his ankle on the day it was to be shot, Victor Saville asked Cole to dance it with her himself. He felt ill suited to the character, but there was nothing else to be done. “So I rehearse with Rita a couple of times around and we’re ready to start. Well, baby, I don’t know what hit me, when they turned the camera on. Monroe was the same way – when it was for real, it was like ‘look out.’ For this first shot …suddenly this mass of red hair comes hurtling at me, and it looked like ninety times more teeth than I ever saw in a woman’s mouth before and more eyes rolling, and … you know, she was the most animated object ever.

“Rita always did it for real – she always gave more than she got.

“We got along good, we liked each other, Rita knew I was very understanding of what she could and what she couldn’t do. She was very good humored and disciplined. If it was in her to do what you asked of her she’d do it very well and with energy, unlike some.”

These remarks by Jack Cole are from John Koball’s astute book on her work, Rita Hayworth, Portrait Of A Love Goddess: The Time, The Place, And The Woman”. I quote it because it helps tell you what you are looking at. Which is why I write these pieces for you.

Here we have Hayworth in a jolly good part in a book musical, shot in glorious 3-strip Technicolor. The color scheme is rich and quiet. The songs are light and the numbers odd. The plot is unusual. You’ll see.

For, all around, it is one of her most entertaining musicals. She is absolutely lovely.

 
 
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