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Down To Earth

Rita and Larry Parks as Terpsichore and Danny Miller

A Columbia Picture (1947)

Producer: Don Hartman
Director: Alexander Hall

Screenplay: Edward Blum and Don Hartman, based on
characters from the Harry Segall play, Heaven Can Wait

The Stars:
Rita Hayworth as Terpsichore/Kitty Pendleton
Larry Parks as Danny Miller
Marc Platt as Eddie Marin
Ronald Culver as Mr. Jordan

Songs:
"Let's Stay Young Forever," "This Can't Be Legal," "They Can't Convince Me," "People Have More Fun than Anyone": by Doris Fisher and Allan Roberts

Costumes by Jean Louis
Dances Staged by Jack Cole
Singing voice for Miss Hayworth: Anita Ellis
Singing voice for Mr. Parks: Hal Derwin
Singing voice for Miss Jergens: Kay Starr

Color, 101 mins. running time


Down To Earth was the first film Columbia Pictures used to cash in on Rita's name after her astronomical success in Gilda. It's male lead, Larry Parks had also recently scored a major box-office hit in The Jolson Story. This musical comedy was a sequel to Columbia's 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan and the characters were based on the Harry Segall play, Heaven Can Wait.

Terpsichore (Rita Hayworth), the goddess of song and dance, looks down from the heavens to earth. She's watching the dress rehearsal for the play Swinging the Muses, which is about her and the rest of the nine muses. She is disgusted when she sees that they are "portraying us in a low and vulgar manner on a public stage!" Terpsichore decides that she must find a way to get to earth to play the part herself and keep her name from being defamed. She knows just the man who can do it, Mr. Jordan (Ronald Culver). "He's done it once before, he can do it again." she says. Telling Mr. Jordan that her only wish is to help the producer, Danny Miller (Larry Parks), make the show a success, Terpsichore is granted her request.

Thus the goddess of dance goes down to earth and into Manhattan. Now her only problem is getting in the show. During dance rehearsal, she comes out with the chorus and proceeds to whirl and tap circles around the show's star. Under the name of Kitty Pendleton, she is given the leading role in the show, playing herself. She begins to have confrontations with Danny about every aspect of the show. Having fallen in love with Kitty, Danny allows her to make the changes, until finally the entire show is turned into a Kitty Pendleton production.

With authentic sets and correct historical points, the show opens in Philadelphia and does terribly. Danny then decides he wants all the old sets and costumes brought back in, says that the show is going on as he had originally envisioned -"A show for people who like jive and baseball and hotdogs." Infuriated, Kitty walks out. Just then, Mr. Jordan (whom only Kitty can see or hear) steps in. He tells Kitty that she cannot leave the show, and reveals to her how badly Danny needs her.

Mr. Jordan takes Kitty back in time a few months to a casino where Danny is gambling, trying to win enough money for his show. Unaware that the game is crooked, Danny ends up owing the casino $20,000, which he can't pay. The casino owner, Joe Mannion (George MacReady), threatens to kill him. But Danny offers him a betting proposition. He asks Mannion to put up $100,000 to back his show, and he'll then pay off his debt if the show is a hit. However, If the show does poorly, Mannion will kill Danny, and be free of suspicion from the police, because Danny has written a suicide note.

After seeing this scene from the past, Mr. Jordan tells Kitty that Danny's show will only succeed if she is the star. Without a second thought, she goes back to Danny, willing to play the part as he wishes. Swinging the Muses is a smash hit. Danny's life is saved and Kitty's job on earth is done. Mr. Jordan tells her she must now return to heaven. She's in love with Danny and resists, but she must go. Back in heaven, Terpsichore is grief stricken. To brighten her spirits, Mr. Jordan takes her many years into the future, to when Danny makes the trip to heaven, and lets her see that then, they'll be together again.

Down To Earth is lightweight fare with beautiful costumes and sets. Though I have found that many fans do not like the film, to me it has many fine qualities. I think it displays some of Rita's best dancing, and she was never more breathtakingly beautiful. She got along well with her co-stars. Larry Park's wife later said he "just adored Rita". Only a few short years after making Down to Earth, Larry's film career ended after he was blacklisted by the House Unamerican Activities Committee during their search for communists in the motion picture industry.

Terpsichore
Rita as Terpsichore in the "This Can't be Legal" number.

Click here: Down to Earth Gallery>>>


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