Summer Under the Stars: Rita Hayworth & Fred Astaire
Friday-Saturday, August 15--16, highlights on Turner Classic Movies:
Since TCM is currently leasing Columbia's library, this year's Rita Hayworth Day includes most of the actress' best films. Gilda (right), of course, is a must for those who've never seen it. Although clumsy here and there, Charles Vidor's romantic film noir features Hayworth at her most goddess-like. As her possessive husband – one who also happens to be in lust with Glenn Ford – George Macready almost (but not quite) steals the show.
I'd also suggest Robert Rossen's They Came to Cordura, a flawed but curious adventure drama in which tempers, desire, and sweat come to the surface while Hayworth, Gary Cooper, Van Heflin, and Tab Hunter cross a Mexican desert seeking refuge at an American military base. Army heroes have hardly ever looked less heroic in Hollywood films of the period, while They Came to Cordura gave Hayworth one of her few chances to truly shine as a dramatic actress.
Tonight and Every Night looks great, but it's a monumental (prudish) bore, whereas Down to Earth is enjoyable even if a tad bloated. In any case, Rita Hayworth in color is always worth a look.
Fred Astaire, TCM's Saturday star, is a great dancer, yes, but I'd rather watch Ann Miller, Cyd Charisse, or Eleanor Powell. Charisse, in fact, can be seen in Rouben Mamoulian's classy (but somewhat stiff) Silk Stockings, a musicalized version of Ninotchka, while Astaire dances with Powell in the mediocre The Broadway Melody of 1940, one of myriad studio-factory films: great-looking, but without an iota of spontaneity, character, or charm.
Of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals, my favorites are The Gay Divorcee (Erik Rhodes all but walks away with it) and, especially, Follow the Fleet. The latter has some of the greatest movie songs of the 1930s, several clever dance numbers, and for once I found Astaire a capable actor.
The only thing funnier than the aerial musical number in Flying Down to Rio is Mexican Dolores del Rio's attempt to pass for a Brazilian socialite. She's a hoot – but a lovely one at that. Gene Raymond isn't all that funny (he's an American playing an American), but he's lovely to look at as well.
Even though neither Dolores del Rio nor Gene Raymond are anywhere to be found in Roberta, the song "Lovely to Look At" can be heard in this middling Astaire-Rogers vehicle (directed by studio journeyman William A. Seiter) – an Astaire-Rogers vehicle that, ahem, actually belongs to Irene Dunne.
Schedule (Pacific Time) and synopses from the TCM website:
5:00 AM Loves of Carmen, The (1948)
A Gypsy temptress seduces an innocent young officer, and then dumps him for another man. Cast: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, Ron Randell. Director: Charles Vidor. C-97 mins.
6:45 AM Affair in Trinidad (1952)
A nightclub singer enlists her brother-in-law to track down her husband's killer. Cast: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, Alexander Scourby. Director: Vincent Sherman. BW-98 mins.
8:30 AM Fire Down Below (1957)
Partners in a tramp steamer both fall for a mysterious lady passenger. Cast: Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitchum, Jack Lemmon. Director: Robert Parrish. C-115 mins. Letterbox Format
10:30 AM Money Trap, The (1966)
A cop with financial problems turns crooked. Cast: Glenn Ford, Rita Hayworth, Elke Sommer. Director: Burt Kennedy. BW-92 mins. Letterbox Format
12:15 PM Music in My Heart (1940)
A chorus girl engaged to a millionaire falls for the star of her latest musical. Cast: Tony Martin, Rita Hayworth, Edith Fellows. Director: Joseph Santley. BW-70 mins.
1:30 PM Down to Earth (1947)
The goddess of the dance comes to Earth to take over a musical lampooning the gods. Cast: Rita Hayworth, Larry Parks, James Gleason. Director: Alexander Hall. C-101 mins.
3:15 PM Tonight and Every Night (1945)
An American girl falls for an RAF pilot while performing at a British music hall. Cast: Rita Hayworth, Lee Bowman, Janet Blair. Director: Victor Saville. C-92 mins.
5:00 PM You'll Never Get Rich (1941)
A Broadway dancing team splits up when the male dancer is drafted. Cast: Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Robert Benchley. Director: Sidney Lanfield. BW-89 mins.
6:45 PM Gilda (1946)
A gambler discovers an old flame in South America, but she's married to his new boss. Cast: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready. Director: Charles Vidor. BW-110 mins.
8:45 PM They Came To Cordura (1959)
Six American military heroes in Mexico fight treacherous conditions to get back to their base. Cast: Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Van Heflin. Director: Robert Rossen. C-123 mins. Letterbox Format
11:00 PM Rita (2003)
A documentary on the life story and experiences of Rita Hayworth told through film clips and stills, archival footage, dramatic re-enactments and interviews. BW-58 mins.
12:00 AM Lady in Question, The (1940)
When a jury member takes in the defendant he couldn't convict, she has a bad influence on his son. Cast: Brian Aherne, Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford. Director: Charles Vidor. BW-80 mins.
3:00 AM Flying Down To Rio (1933)
A dance-band leader finds love and success in Brazil. Cast: Dolores Del Rio, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. Director: Thornton Freeland. BW-90 mins.
4:30 AM Broadway Melody Of 1940 (1940)
A vaudeville team breaks up when both men fall for the same gorgeous hoofer. Cast: Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, George Murphy. Director: Norman Taurog. BW-102 mins.
6:15 AM Fred Astaire Songbook, The (1991)
A loving tribute to Astaire the singer. Director: Carol Burnett, David Heeley. C-64 mins.
7:30 AM Easter Parade (1948)
When his partner leaves him, a vaudeville star trains an untried performer to take her place, finding love in the process. Cast: Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Ann Miller. Director: Charles Walters. C-103 mins.
9:30 AM Silk Stockings (1957)
A straitlaced Soviet agent is seduced by Paris and a high-stepping film producer. Cast: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Janis Paige. Director: Rouben Mamoulian. C-118 mins. Letterbox Format
11:30 AM Barkleys Of Broadway, The (1949)
A married musical team splits up so the wife can become a serious actress. Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Oscar Levant. Director: Charles Walters. C-109 mins.
1:30 PM Shall We Dance (1937)
A ballet dancer and a showgirl fake a marriage for publicity purposes, then fall in love. Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton. Director: Mark Sandrich. BW-109 mins.
3:30 PM Carefree (1938)
A psychiatrist falls in love with the woman he's supposed to be nudging into marriage with someone else. Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ralph Bellamy. Director: Mark Sandrich. BW-83 mins.
5:00 PM Swing Time (1936)
To prove himself worthy of his fiancee, a dancer tries to make it big, only to fall for his dancing partner. Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore. Director: George Stevens. BW-104 mins.
7:00 PM Top Hat (1935)
A woman thinks the man who loves her is her best friend's husband. Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton. Director: Mark Sandrich. BW-100 mins.
11:00 PM Follow The Fleet (1936)
Two sailors on leave romance a dance-hall hostess and her prim sister. Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott. Director: Mark Sandrich. BW-110 mins.
1:00 AM Gay Divorcee, The (1934)
An unhappily married woman mistakes a suitor for the gigolo hired to end her marriage. Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton. Director: Mark Sandrich. BW-105 mins.