“You Were Never Lovelier” (1942) with Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth
HAYWORTH–never lovelier! ASTAIRE–never more exciting!
KERN’S MUSIC–never more inspired!
“You Were Never Lovelier” (Columbia Pictures) is a 1942 Hollywood musical comedy film, set in Buenos Aires. The movie stars Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Adolphe Menjou and Xavier Cugat, also with Isobel Elsom, Leslie Brooks, Adele Mara, and Gus Schilling. The film was directed by William A. Seiter. “You Were Never Lovelier” was the second of Astaire’s outings with Hayworth after the box-office success of the earlier “You’ll Never Get Rich” in 1941. Music is by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Kern and Mercer provide two songs for the movie that have become standards, “Dearly Beloved” and “I’m Old Fashioned”. The dance sequence to “I’m Old Fashioned” with Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth is as pure and romantic as any Hollywood as ever offered. Hayworth and Astaire also team up in a combination American swing and tap dancing routine to the song “The Shorty George” in which they both get to show off their dancing skills. Astaire shines in his “Audition Dance” which Astaire himself called one of his best solos ever. Initially, Kern was unhappy about the selection of Xavier Cugat and his orchestra. But when production was complete, he was so pleased with the band’s performance that he presented Cugart with a silver baton. Although Hayworth had a fine voice, Harry Cohn insisted on her singing being dubbed throughout by Nan Wynn.
The Acunas, a rich Argentine family, have the tradition that the daughters have to get married in order, oldest first and in the Acuna household tradition rules. When sister #1 gets married, sisters #3 and #4 (Leslie Brooks and Adele Mara) put pressure on Maria (Rita Hayworth), sister #2, because they have their husbands picked out already. But Maria hasn’t yet met a man she likes. Eduardo Acuna (Adolphe Menjou), believing that men aren’t romantic enough these days, sends his daughter flowers and anonymous love letters, creating a “mystery man” for her to fall in love with. He intends to pick out an appropriate beau for her later, to fill the role. But when Robert Davis (Fred Astaire), an American dancer looking for work, stumbles into the picture romance ensues, much to the delight of the younger Acuna sisters and the dismay of Mr. Acuna.
“You Were Never Lovelier” was nominated for three Academy Awards: Music Scoring of a Musical Picture, Music Song (for Dearly Beloved), and Sound Recording.
“I’m Old Fashioned” — Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth