Cover Girl (film)

Cover Girl is a 1944 American Technicolor musical film starring Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. The film tells the story of a chorus girl given a chance at stardom when she is offered an opportunity to be a highly paid cover girl. The film was directed by Charles Vidor, and was one of the most popular musicals of the war years.

Cover Girl
theatrical release poster
Directed byCharles Vidor
Produced byArthur Schwartz
Written byStory:
Erwin S. Gelsey
Marion Parsonnet
Paul Gangelin
Virginia Van Upp
John H. Kafkr
StarringRita Hayworth
Gene Kelly
Music byScore:
Saul Chaplin
Morris Stoloff
Jerome Kern
Henry E. Pether
Ira Gershwin
E.Y. Harburg
Fred W. Leigh
CinematographyAllen M. Davey
Rudolph Maté
Edited byViola Lawrence
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • March 20, 1944 (1944-03-20)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States

Primarily a showcase for Rita Hayworth, the film has lavish modern and 1890s costumes, eight dance routines for Hayworth, and songs by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin, including the classic "Long Ago (and Far Away)".


Rusty (Rita Hayworth) is a chorus girl at a nightclub run by her boyfriend Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly). Fellow showgirl Maurine Martin enters a contest to be on the cover of Vanity magazine, so Rusty tries out as well. When Maurine is given a lukewarm evaluation by Cornelia Jackson (Eve Arden), she sabotages Rusty's chances, giving her terrible advice on how to act toward Cornelia. Cornelia's boss, magazine editor John Coudair (Otto Kruger), decides to check out Maurine at Danny's nightclub, but his eye is immediately drawn to Rusty. It turns out that 40 years earlier, he had become instantly smitten with showgirl Maribelle Hicks, whom Rusty looks exactly like; he later discovers that Maribelle is Rusty's recently deceased grandmother.

Danny is worried that, with her newfound fame, Rusty will leave him. She is quite willing to stay if only Danny would ask her. Coudair brings along impresario Noel Wheaton (Lee Bowman) to see Rusty perform; Noel is impressed by both her beauty and talent. Backstage, he offers her a job. Danny does not want to stand in her way, so he picks an argument to send her packing. Rusty becomes a star on Broadway after appearing in a musical produced by Wheaton, and decides to marry him. At the last second, however, she leaves the wedding and reunites with Danny.


Cast notes

  • The film features cameo appearances by Jinx Falkenburg and Anita Colby as themselves, and an appearance by Shelley Winters, early in her career, as one of the young autograph hounds.[1]
  • In one of Hollywood's most unusual reprise roles, Kelly played Danny McGuire again—36 years later—in 1980's Xanadu.

Musical numbers

Cover Girl marked the first film collaboration of Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin.[1]

  • "The Show Must Go On" (Kern - music, Gershwin - lyrics)
  • "Who's Complaining?" (Kern, Gershwin)
  • "Sure Thing" (Kern, Gershwin)
  • "Make Way For Tomorrow" (Kern, Gershwin, E.Y. Harburg - lyrics)
  • "Put Me to the Test" (Kern, Gershwin)
  • "Long Ago (and Far Away)" (Kern, Gershwin)
  • "Poor John" (Henry E. Pether - music, Fred W. Leigh -lyrics)
  • "Alter-Ego Dance" (Kern)
  • "Cover Girl (That Girl on the Cover)" (Kern, Gershwin)


Columbia Pictures originally wanted to use Warner Bros. star Dennis Morgan for Cover Girl, but when Kelly's project at MGM, Dragon Seed, was postponed, MGM extended their loan of Kelly to Columbia, allowing this film to be made with him.[1] Columbia's production head, Harry Cohn, was initially opposed to having Kelly do the film, but producer Schwartz nevertheless obtained him, promising Kelly that he would be able to choreograph, which MGM had not allowed him to do.[2]

Columbia gave Kelly almost complete control over the making of this film, and many of his ideas contributed to its lasting success. He removed several of the soundstage walls so that he, Hayworth, and Silvers could dance along an entire street in one take. He also used trick photography so that he could dance with his own reflection in the sequence "Alter-Ego Dance", achieved using superimposition to give his "double" a ghost-like quality. Kelly, along with Stanley Donen, devised the choreography.[1] Film historians consider Cover Girl the point where Kelly hit his stride in a musical role that foreshadowed the best of his future work.[3]

The film was Hayworth's fourth musical: the first two she had done opposite Fred Astaire.[2] Hayworth's singing voice was dubbed by Martha Mears.[1]

Cover Girl was Columbia's first Technicolor musical,[1] and songwriter Arthur Schwartz's first venture into producing. The film was a big hit, and made stars out of both Hayworth and Kelly. The success of Cover Girl caused MGM to pay closer attention to Kelly as a viable property, and they allowed him to create his own dance numbers for his next film, Anchors Aweigh (1945), also starring Frank Sinatra. Columbia bought the film rights to Pal Joey, which Kelly had done on Broadway, hoping to pair up Kelly and Hayworth again, but MGM refused to loan him out, and instead the film was made with Sinatra playing the lead.[2]

Awards and honors

Carmen Dragon and Morris Stoloff won the 1944 Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture.[4]

The following were nominated, but did not win:

The song "Long Ago (and Far Away)" was also ranked 92nd on the American Film Institute's 2004 list AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs.[6]

See also


  1. "Notes" on
  2. Landazuri, Margarita. "Cover Girl" (article) on
  3. Hess, Earl J.; Dabholkar, Pratibha A. (2009). Singin’ in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7006-1656-5.
  4. "NY Times: Cover Girl". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
  5. "The 17th Academy Awards (1945) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-15.
  6. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
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