RITA – EARLY AND MIDDLE

Music in My Heart     Joseph Santley     1940

This is a nice little movie.  It is a 40s Hollywood black and white musical with lots of likable characters, many of them played by a stock supporting cast.  But someone  —  who?  —  wanted to make a GOOD movie, and did..

Music in My Heart seems designed to promote pop tenor Tony Martin, but his leading lady is Rita Hayworth on the verge of stardom.  Columbia Pictures was about to discover the star they had  — and would survive on for many years.  She dances briefly only once, at a family party.  But she is charming and filled with energy and brunette-ly lovely.

Art direction and costume design are outstanding.

It runs less than one and a quarter hours.  Them was the days

Down to Earth     Alexander Hall     1947

PUTTING THE ANTS IN THE DANCERS’ PANTS

Our movie memories, we all know, can play us tricks.  I found I had some false memories of Rita’s Miss Sadie Thompson (look for a near-future blog), and I had some about Down to Earth, too.  I remembered the basic plot, but I misremembered the chronology of the narrative.  I recalled snippets of two songs.  But my prinicipal lifelong impression has been that this is a charming and delightful film.

And so it is.

The Roberts/Fisher songs are witty and catchy.  The choreography by legendary Jack Cole is special, particularly in a song called “I Want to Marry the Two of You.”  But the great Rita is the chief delight.  She is breathtaking in green and white and gold.  As the Grecian goddess Terpsichore, come down to earth to shape up Broadway (“I’m the goddess of song and dance, I put the ants in the dancers’ pants.”), she has a role that’s inconsistently written (and in fantasy consistency is important).  Rita Hayworth solves the problem by giving her all  —  as usual  —  to each phase of the jumbled writing.  ( In Miss Sadie Thompson you will see her perfectly capture the tone of each scene as written.)  She is at her best here in the highly artificial comedy scenes.  Down to Earth shows its age only in a couple of overlong comic sequences in which she does not appear.

Larry Parks is her romantic co-star, and Roland Culver is ideally cast as Mr. Jordan.

NEXT FRIDAY POST MARCH 4

Until then,
See you at the movies.
Rick

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