The Films Of Rita Hayworth (Cover Girl/Tonight & Every Night/Gilda/Salome/Miss Sadie Thompson/Sony
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: B- Films: B
actresses, Rita Hayworth started in small parts and might have continued as
such if she were not working at a smaller studio like Columbia.
After turns in B-movies like Meet
Nero Wolfe (1936) and The Lone Wolf
Spy Hunt (1939), she became a familiar face there and sometimes in other
studio’s films. Then an unusual thing
happened. It was always assumed that
only the major studios had the best films, stars and material, but smaller
companies like Columbia
constantly defied and surprised the industry.
This time, Hayworth not only became a big star, but the premiere sex
symbol, keeping the company more than competitive with the majors. The new Sony DVD set The Films Of Rita Hayworth gives us five films that show us how the
studio and boss Harry Cohn knew who they had, what they had and what they did
she had many more hits, these films show her at her best and in many vehicles.
get Charles Vidor’s Cover Girl
(1944) a musical comedy she made with Gene Kelly, a huge star usually
associated with MGM, the biggest studio of the time. She plays a young dancer who wins a contest
to be on the cover of a major magazine, but this gets in the way of her teacher
(Kelly) and their budding romance in this Technicolor-produced hit (lensed by
Allen M. Davey and Rudolph Maté), this was the kind of film Columbia could only
afford to make a few of a year, but it works and is worth revisiting. Lee Bowman, Phil Silvers, Leslie Brooks, Otto
Kruger and Eve Arden also star.
Saville’s Tonight & Every Night
(1945) was yet another big Technicolor musical production the following year (again
lensed by Rudolph Maté), but set against the backdrop of WWII (common at the
time) about a British performance group who never missed a performance to
support the Allied troops, thus the title.
Lee Bowman is back, both joined by Janet Blair (of the well-known comedy
hit My Sister Eileen) and a great
supporting cast that makes this a very interesting time capsule of the end of a
dark time when Hollywood went to war and helped bring in the big win.
Hayworth and Charles Vidor reunited for Gilda
(1946), it would not be another colorful musical, but a powerful Film Noir
drama that remains an all time classic of that period. With a script by Jo Eisinger, Marion
Parsonnet and an uncredited Ben Hecht, this dark tale of a self-destructing
relationship is as famous a film as Hayworth ever made. An ugly triangle develops between her
nightclub singer title character, the club owner (George Macready) and his new
manager (Glenn Ford), who turns out to be from her past. Madness ensues in this must-see classic, shot
strikingly in real black and white film by Rudolph Maté.
always interesting William Dieterle directed Salome, a 1953 Technicolor costume romp (lensed by the very capable
Charles Lang of One Eyed Jacks, Charade and Wait Until Dark) and Biblical epic of sorts (the genre was about to
explode along with widescreen filmmaking, though this is a black style 1.33 X 1
film) has John The Baptist (Alan Badel) taking on King Herod (Charles Laughton)
with you know who in the middle.
Sometimes a hoot, other times very interesting filmmaking, it is worth
at least one look to see who out of their way they went to make it, especially
Columbia, who made few films like this in a year. Also in the cats are Judith Anderson, Cedric
Hardwicke and Stewart Granger also star.
is the only widescreen film in the set, as well as a 3-D film (!), a Musical
(again) and a Technicolor production with three-track stereo. Curtis Bernhardt (best known for his Film
Noir hit Possessed from 1947)
directed this version of Miss Sadie
Thompson (1953) with Hayworth in the title role as the title character,
stuck on an island with Marines who are all more than interested in her. Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford played this
role as well and Hayworth is also just right for it, trapped in a moral dilemma
and between a Sergeant (Aldo Ray) and overly moralistic preacher (José Ferrer),
this is an odd take on the story, but another interesting film worth
revisiting. Wonder if Sony will offer it
in the new Blu-ray 3D format.
All the films
were originally issued in three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor except Gilda and all are framed in their
original 1.33 X 1 black style frame except Sadie,
which is in an anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 frame here (with some sources
claming it was 1.75 X 1 upon release, lensed by Director of Photography Charles
Lawton, Jr. of the original 3:10 To Yuma
and My Sister Eileen) and they all
look good for this format and their age.
They have been nicely restored and I have few complaints, though Sadie might be a big soft and the color
a little limited since it was also a 3-D film, but it has some fine shots as
well. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on all
is also cleaned up, though Sadie is not here in stereo, this does not mean the
stereo tracks are gone. We’ll see when
even a 2-D Blu-ray rolls around.
include Baz Luhrmann on Cover Girl
and Gilda, a featurette he shares
with Martin Scorsese. Patricia Clarkson
discusses Tonight and Sadie, Salome has trailers and we also get a feature length audio commentary
by Richard Schickel on Gilda.
- Nicholas Sheffo