It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
“Tonight and Every Night” (1945)– Musical #181
Rita Hayworth, Janet Blair, Lee Bowman, Marc Platt, Leslie Brooks, Florence Bates, Professor Lamberti, Shelly Winters (uncredited)
Told as a retrospective story to a LIFE magazine reporter, a theater in London never closed or missed a performance during the German blitz in London throughout World War II. The stars of the show were Rosalind Bruce (Hayworth), Judy Kane (Blair) and Tommy Lawson (Platt) are the stars of the show. Rosalind is an American and ends up falling in love with British flyer Paul Lundy (Bowman).
-Loosely based on the Windmill Theatre in London, which never closed during World War II and the German blitz
-Rita Hayworth took time off after filming “Tonight and Every Night” to have her baby, daughter Rebecca, who she had with Orson Welles, according to a “Movie of the Week” feature in the Feb. 12, 1945, issue of LIFE magazine.
-Originally was set to be a drama with Ida Lupino and Merle Oberon. After Hayworth’s success in “Cover Girl,” Columbia cast Hayworth in the film instead and made it into a musical, according to Turner Classic Movie Host Ben Mankiewicz.
-Because Rita Hayworth was pregnant during the filming, costume designer Jean Louis had to find creative ways to hide her pregnancy.
-Based on the play “Heart of a City.”
-Choreographed by Jack Cole, who dances during the number “What Does an English Girl Think of a Yank?”
-Rita Hayworth was dubbed by Martha Mears
-Rita Hayworth’s “You Excite Me” number, choreographed by Jack Cole
-Marc Platt’s dancing, particularly when he is auditioning
-“Tonight and Every Night” performed by Janet Blair, the cast and Rita Hayworth, dubbed by Martha Mears
-“You Excite Me” performed by Rita Hayworth, dubbed by Martha Mears
-“The Boy I Left Behind” performed by Janet Blair, Rita Hayworth, dubbed by Martha Mears
-“What Does an English Girl Think of a Yank?” performed by Rita Hayworth, dubbed by Martha Mears (mainly notable for the dancing.)
-“Anywhere” performed by Janet Blair
My review: (with vague SPOILERS)
“Tonight and Every Night” is my favorite Rita Hayworth film. This is a fairly forgotten and underrated musical, which is a shame. “Tonight and Every Night” explodes with gorgeous Technicolor and has a few fantastic dance numbers choreographed by Jack Cole.
This isn’t your average fluffy musical. I think what I like best about this lively film is that it’s set during World War II and mixes musical comedy with a serious theme: the German blitz on England during World War II. The story line focuses on a theater in London vowing never to close or end a performance during the Blitz. This plot makes the film interesting and gives it weight. In the film, the actors even decide to make a dormitory out of the theater, sleeping in dressing rooms and making a little canteen. Rita Hayworth’s romance with Lee Bowman is more of a subplot to this than a main focus. (SLIGHT SPOILER) “Tonight and Every Night” also takes very sad and serious turn at the end that leaves me in tears every time. Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz said 1945 audiences were unprepared and shocked by an ending that wasn’t happy. Most musicals from the dawn of sound to the 1950s didn’t leave the audience sad. Out of the pre-1959 musicals I have seen, this is the only one that leaves me sad.
Mankiewicz also said that this film originally wasn’t intended to be a musical and was going to star Ida Lupino and Merle Oberon. While I can picture how this film would have played out, I am happy that it ended up being a musical — even if Rita Hayworth was dubbed.
While singing may not have been a strong suite of Hayworth’s, her dancing is superb. I often find that Hayworth’s dancing skills are overlooked, as she’s often remembered for film noirs like “The Lady from Shanghai” or “Gilda.” However, I would list her in the top 10 best dancers in Hollywood of the classic era. Her best dance numbers in this film are “You Excite Me” and “What Does an English Girl Think of a Yank?”
Another fantastic dancer in this film is Marc Platt. Not a well-known name, Platt was also one of the brothers in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and danced in “Oklahoma.” This seems to be one of the few films that he had a speaking role in. Most notably in this film, Platt auditions for Florence Bates dancing to classical, opera, boogie woogie and a Hitler speech.
Also in the film is Janet Blair who is beautiful to look at and has a lovely singing voice. She and Rita Hayworth compliment each other well on-screen.
“Tonight and Every Night” will maybe make you laugh and smile, and maybe even cry, but it’s a fast-moving Technicolor marvel that you shouldn’t miss.
Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org