Rita and Fred Astaire, about to go into 'The Shorty George' number You Were Never Lovelier

A Columbia Picture (1942)

Producer: Louis F. Edelman
Director: William A. Seiter

Screenplay: Michael Fessier, Ernest
and Delmer Daves,
from story, The Gay Seņorita, by Carlos Olivari and Sixto Pondel Rios

The Stars:
Fred Astaire: Robert (Bob) Davis
Rita Hayworth: Maria Acuņa
Adolph Menjou: Eduardo Acuņa

Songs: by Jerome Kern and Johnny
: "Dearly Beloved," "I'm Old Fashioned," "The Shorty George," "You Were Never Lovelier," "Wedding in the Spring";
by Nicanor Molinare: "Chiu Chiu"

Song vocals for Miss Hayworth: Nan Wynn
Dances staged by Val Raset, Fred Astaire and Nicanor Molinare
Gowns by Irene

Black and White, 97 mins. running time

You Were Never Lovelier was Rita's third and last film released in 1942 and her second time as Fred Astaire's dancing partner. Except for "The Shorty George" number, all their dances were rehearsed in the attic of a funeral parlor! They had to stop every time a funeral procession came through and couldn't start up again until all the mourners had left. But if those conditions disrupted rehearsals, it didn't show on-screen. The results were fabulous. Rita later called this movie one of her favorites, but it was also memorable to her for another reason. During rehearsals of "The Shorty George", Rita experienced one of her "most embarrassing" moments when she fell down during the dance and knocked herself out cold! The film is set in what was one of Hollywood's favorite locales at the time, Buenos Aires, and also features Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra to add to the Latin flavor of this memorable musical.

Stranded in the Argentine, Bob Davis (Fred Astaire) is trying to get hired as a dancer by a rather unpleasant man, Eduardo Acuņa (Adolph Menjou), who refuses to even grant him an audition. Bob's old pal Xavier Cugat, whose orchestra is playing at Acuņa's daughter's forthcoming wedding, devises a plan to help him. Bob will sing with his orchestra, and hopefully Acuņa will take notice of Bob's talent. Unfortunately, Eduardo pays the entertainment no attention.

Prior to the wedding at the Acuņa household, Eduardo's four lovely daughters excitedly prepare for the ceremony. As a tradition, Eduardo insists that his daughter's be wed in order from eldest to youngest. The eldest is about to be wed, and the two youngest, Cecy (Leslie Brooks) and Lita (Adele Mara) are engaged. Their problem is that they can't get married until the second oldest, and most beautiful Acuņa daughter, Maria (Rita Hayworth) ties the knot. Maria is single and still waiting for the knight on a white horse type, her "Lachinvar". With her looks she attracts many men, but unfortunately, as Fred Astaire's character tells Eduardo (whom he doesn't know is Maria's father), "Her personality is like the inside of a refrigerator." At the reception, Maria catches Bob's eye, but her icy attitude warns him to backs off.

Maria's waiting for perfection in a man is the central problem in Cecy and Lita's lives. In an effort to get Maria married off, Eduardo hatches a scheme which he thinks is ingenious. He begins sending orchids with beautiful messages from a secret admirer -and if she takes an interest in the messages, he plans to choose any suitable gentlemen to say he sent the flowers. Maria will already be in love with her orchid sender and in no time she'll be married (He hopes)! Eduardo puts his plan into motion, and eventually it begins to work! Maria becomes infatuated with her romantic secret admirer. Now Eduardo must produce a man.

Meanwhile Bob, still trying to get an audience with Eduardo, ends up delivering Maria's flowers to her home one afternoon. Maria sees him from her balcony, and thinks he's her secret admirer! She tells her father all about it. Eduardo despises Bob ever since his remark about his "refrigerator daughter", but so that Maria doesn't find out the truth about the notes, he strikes a deal with Bob- He will give him a job dancing at the Starlight Roof, and Bob will pretend he sent the flowers, be introduced to Maria, and then disillusion her with his "obnoxious" personality.

To Eduardo's dismay, when Bob gets to know Maria, he falls in love her, and she with him! All is well until another misunderstanding occurs. Eduardo's wife Delfina (Barbara Brown), finds out he's been sending love notes to a certain "Maria", and she jumps to the conclusion that it is their daughter's godmother, Maria Castro (Isobel Elsom). To set things strait, Bob tells the truth about everything- in front of his beloved, Maria Acuņa, who feels hurt and foolish by it all. Eduardo is grateful to Bob, and gives him his blessing to court Maria. Soon Bob's romantic gestures win her forgiveness. Maria has finally found her knight in shining armor, and Cecy and Lita can at last be married as well.

You Were Never Lovelier is one of my favorite Rita Hayworth films. It's filled with lovely songs and lovelier dancing. The hauntingly beautiful "Dearly Beloved" was nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Song". Rita's grace and poise while dancing shown brilliantly throughout the movie. The "I'm Old Fashioned" number is so romantic and "The Shorty George" is expertly danced. They're two of my very favorite musical numbers performed by Rita.

Rita and Fred Astaire, photo by Hurrell
George Hurrell photo of Rita and Fred Astaire for You Were Never Lovelier.

More "You Were Never Lovelier" photos>>>

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