Rita and Lee Bowman Tonight and Every Night

A Columbia Picture (1945)

Produced and Directed by Victor Saville

Screenplay: Lesser Samuels & Abem Finkel, from play, Heart of the City, by Lesley Storm, as produced on stage by Gilbert Miller

The Stars:
Rita Hayworth: Rosalind (Roz) Bruce
Lee Bowman: Paul Lundy
Janet Blair: Judy Kane
Marc Platt: Tommy Lawson

Songs: by Jules Styne & Sammy Cahn: "What Does an English Girl Think of a Yank?,"
"You Excite Me," "The Boy I Left Behind,"
"Cry and You Cry Alone," "Tonight and Every Night," "Anywhere"

Miss Hayworth's song vocals: Martha Mears
Dances staged by Jack Cole & Val Raset
Costumes by Jean Louis & Marcel Vertès

Color, 92 mins. running time

Tonight and Every Night, based on the play "Heart of the City" by Lesley Storm, was filmed during mid 1944. Rita had recently become pregnant with daughter Rebecca Welles. This necessitated the musical numbers to be filmed first, before the pregnancy began to show. And for the rest of the film, they kept her hidden behind high furniture, looser costumes and strategically placed muffs. The film is a bit unusual but it's color and song-filled brilliance made it one of the most popular musicals of the day.

In London, a photographer for Life magazine is doing a spread on "The Music Box", a theater that went through the blitz without missing a single performance for the servicemen. The stage manager opens up the journalist to give him the remarkable story of the theater's performers and the events that kept them going through the terror-filled nights of the German attacks on the city.

Their story began back before the war: The showgirls are rehearsing their routine when Tommy Lawson (Marc Platt) comes in for an audition. He dances superbly, but he has had no training and is unable to remember the steps once he's done them. Roz (Rita Hayworth) and her best friend Judy (Janet Blair) take him under their wings saying, "We're going to teach you everything you know." As the three performers emerge as the stars of the show, Judy falls in love with Tommy, and Tommy falls in love with Roz. But the love triangle becomes a square when Squadron Leader Paul Lundy (Lee Bowman) enters their world. He visits the Music Box and is instantly captivated by Roz after seeing her perform "You Excite Me".

Immediately following the number, the city's sirens go off signaling that the blitzkrieg has resumed, and they must take cover. In the theater's bomb shelter awaiting the "all clear" signal, Paul makes his move and asks Roz for a date. She turns him down flatly, but when they meet again, his persistence makes her finally agree to go out with him (much to Tommy's disappointment). To make a meeting in his flat sound more respectable, Paul tells Roz they'd be joined an old pal of his, Chuck Brown. But when she realizes there is no Chuck Brown, she walks out on him, let down by his dishonesty. He apologizes with cards and flowers but she refuses to speak to him so Paul finally arranges to run into her at the theater. He explains his actions, and tells her he'll soon be off to fight in the war. This news makes Roz see she loves him.

Soon after, Paul's father, Reverend Gerald Lundy (Philip Merivale), pays a visit to the theater to see Roz and her show. She gets the idea he's come to tell her that he doesn't want his son involved with a showgirl. But she soon finds out he has come with a proposal of marriage from his son, who is on a special mission for the R.A.F. She ecstatically accepts.

When Tommy finds out Roz is going to marry Paul, he's angry at first, but soon comes to his senses and wishes them well. Later, Judy and Tommy are in the pub across the street from the theater, and just when Tommy begins to fall for Judy, the bombs start dropping again. The pub is directly hit and both Judy and Tommy are killed. Knowing it's what they would have wanted, the Music Box performers decide the show must go on for the soldiers, as long as the war does. Paul will wait to marry Roz until her mission with the theater is completed.

Rita was luminously beautiful in the warm Technicolor glow of Tonight and Every Night. Throughout the production are lavish musical numbers performed by Rita and Janet Blair. My favorites are Rita's "You Excite Me" number and her duet with Janet, "The Boy I left Behind". The picture was Oscar nominated for "Best Musical Score", and the song "Anywhere" was nominated for "Best Song". The respective winners of those awards that year were Anchors Aweigh and "It Might as Well Be Spring" from State Fair.

Rosalind Bruce and Tommy Lundy
Rita with Lee Bowman as Rosalind Bruce and Tommy Lundy

More photos from Tonight and Every Night>>>

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