I was raised on classic movies and as an adult, I still can’t get enough of them. Now that I’ve seen all the Fred and Ginger films, I’m working my way through Fred’s other movies. One I particularly enjoyed recently was “You Were Never Lovelier,” which puts him opposite the lovely Rita Hayworth.
Rita plays Maria, the second oldest daughter of a wealthy nightclub owner. Her older sister has just married, and her two younger sisters both have fiancés and want to tie the knot as well, but their father is old fashioned. He believes the girls should marry in the order of their births, and until Maria finds a husband, the two younger girls will just have to wait. Consequently, everyone is eager for Maria to let a young man into her life, but she just isn’t interested. She’s looking for Sir Galahad to ride up on his white horse, and until she meets a man who can fulfill her expectations, she’s never getting married.
Meanwhile, along comes Johnny (Astaire) a hoofer who wants a job in the nightclub. Maria’s father isn’t interested in letting him audition, but that doesn’t deter Johnny. He finagles a way into the family home and catches a glimpse of Maria, and she catches a glimpse of him. It’s not love at first sight – they can’t stand each other.
But when Maria’s father decides to start sending her flowers from a secret admirer, hoping to open her eyes to the possibility of romance, and when she mistakenly believes they’re coming from Johnny, well, anything can happen.
This movie features some really incredible dance numbers. I can easily see why Fred called Rita his favorite dance partner—she was with him on every single note and I never felt, like I sometimes did watching Ginger, that he was taking two steps for every one of hers. This film isn’t as well-known as some of Astaire’s others, but if you’re a fan, you should definitely be adding this one to your “must see” list. It’s one that deserves more attention than it gets.
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