"After their resounding success in "You'll Never Get Rich" it remained kismet that Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth would reunite for another glossy film musical. The project; "You Were Never Lovelier" is a valiant successor to the aforementioned and, in truth, excels beyond the expectations of their previous venture. Astaire plays a penniless hoofer from New York who, through a series of mishaps, comes to the attention of Senior Acuna (Adolph Menjou) while on a vacation in Buenos Aires. Acuna has just married off his oldest daughter and, as his family tradition dictates, the rest of his daughters must get married in sequential order. The two youngest daughters are already fixed with a pair of tennis beaux, but the eldest unmarried daughter, Maria (Hayworth) is not only an ice princess of the highest order, but refuses to marry under any circumstance. That is, until she begins receiving orchids from an unknown admirer. The score by Jerome Kern is magnificent; the poignant `Dearly Beloved', the jazzy `Shorty George' and the classy `I'm Old Fashion'. The latter two songs are danced by Astaire and Hayworth with such polish and finesse that it's impossible not to marvel at their grace and style.
THE TRANSFER: Outstanding. While "You'll Never Get Rich" suffered from an overall dated appearance, "You Were Never Lovelier" appears to have been the benefactor of a digital restoration at some point. It's black and white picture is stunning and smooth. There are brief and minor occasions where fine details slightly shimmer, but these do not distract from your visual pleasure. Fine detail is fully realized. There is a resounding absence of age related artifacts. Digital anomalies are not an issue. The audio is mono but exceptionally well balanced - at times sounding very close to having a stereo spread.
EXTRAS: Sorry, none!
BOTTOM LINE: "You Were Never Lovelier" has certainly never looked more lovely than in its DVD incarnation. An absolute must have for your library!"
One of the very best musicals ever!
inframan | the lower depths | 09/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this film on laser disc years ago & have watched it at least a dozen times & never tire of watching it - from beginning to end. Starting with Jerome Kern's exquisite melodies (Dearly Beloved is one of those classics that was covered by just about every great jazz group), it's crammed with the finest talent Hollywood, in its prime, had to offer. Astaire never danced better - solo or with Rita. The number with the cane in Acuna's office is absolutely thrilling - hair-raising in its virtuosity & dexterity. I've repeated the Shorty George dance track a dozen times in a row. It gets better each time. Makes you want to dance. Rita really was never lovelier (no one was) - how could one woman be so regal & beautiful & sexy & a sensational dancer all at the same time? What else? Cugat's funny, his band is fabulous & you get to see him do one of his signature caricatures (of Menjou - another one they broke the mold of). It just doesn't get any better than this."
Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer...An
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 04/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In some of Fred Astaire's movies there's only one excellent reason to watch, and that's to watch Fred Astaire. In You Were Never Lovelier there are three other excellent reasons. Rita Hayworth. Jerome Kern. Johnny Mercer. The four of them have concocted a romantic and funny South American fable that features some great dancing by both Astaire and Hayworth and some memorable songs by Kern and Mercer.
Eduardo Acuna (Adolphe Menjou), a wealthy Buenos Aires businessman, has four beautiful daughters, and in the Acuna family they must marry in age order. The eldest fulfills her responsibilities and the two youngest have beaus they're now anxious to share vows with. But the second eldest, Maria (Rita Hayworth) is in no hurry. She wants romance and charm and the men she meets are just panting boys. Then she sees Robert Davis (Fred Astaire), a very charming, down-on-his-luck dancer, singing Dearly Beloved at her elder sister's wedding. He tries to chat her up; she stares him down. Then the plot intervenes. Before long she knows what she wants. Robert knows what he wants. Eduardo Acuna knows what he doesn't want...a down-on-his-luck dancer in the family. From then on it's songs, dances, romance and misunderstandings, which moves into songs, dances and romance. The plot feels sluggish at times and there's way too much Xavier Cugat and his orchestra, but Astaire and Hayworth are at their peak, Kern has written some memorable melodies and few could top Mercer at lyric writing, none in Hollywood.
Hayworth not only was a gorgeous creature, she was a gifted dancer; many think she was the best Astaire worked with. Technically, she not only handled the steps Astaire created, she did so without a hint of effort. After you've watched the dances a couple of times, go back and watch again, but this time concentrate on her face and her hand and arm action. She gives every indication of being utterly relaxed and enjoying herself, even in the fast tap routines. She seems naturally to find the most graceful attitude for an extended arm, a turn of her head, a raised hand. She may not be quite as good as Astaire, but she's good enough.
Among the stand-out routines are: --The Audition Dance. Robert shows up at Acuna's office and demands a chance to show his stuff as a dancer. From there Astaire takes off on a fast tap routine that takes him all over the floor, onto Acuna's desk, the sofa and chairs. He works into the dance a cane, a rug, the drapes and Acuna's head.
--I'm Old Fashioned. This is probably the best romantic wooing dance Astaire did. It's all fluid motion and spontaneous recognition, danced on the elegant, polished outdoor landing of Acuna's mansion. Rita Hayworth is a vision, and matches him step for step. We move from Maria declaring with humor and assurance that Robert's the man for her, to Robert's protestation that he's just a guy from Omaha, Nebraska, to the dance that brings them closer and closer together until we know through the dance that a love match has just happened. The funny exit through the doors and back into the living-room, bumping into each other, each giving way, bumping again and then going in together arm in arm hits just the right note. The dance works so well in part because Kern and Mercer came up with a classic: I'm old fashioned, I love the moonlight, I love the old fashioned things. The sound of rain Upon a window pane, The starry song that April sings. This year's fancies Are passing fancies But sighing sighs, holding hands, These my heart understands. I'm old fashioned But I don't mind it. That's how I want to be, As long as you agree, To stay old fashioned with me.
--The Shorty George. This fast tap routine starts out with Maria visiting Robert at a rehearsal. He sings The Shorty George and she takes a couple of lines. He looks surprised that she knows the song. He starts to dance and invites her to join him. Hayworth stays right with Astaire and looks like she's having the time of her life.
--You Were Never Lovelier. Robert declares his feelings for Maria, but more misunderstandings occur. Finally, everything is resolved. Robert shakes off some knight's armor he was wearing (there is sort of a reason) and appears below Maria's bedroom window in black tie. She rushes down...and off they go dancing while all the members of the Acuna family look on approvingly. And the Johnny Mercer lyrics and Jerome Kern music brings us to the happy end: You were never lovelier, you were never so fair; Dreams were never lovelier, Pardon me if I stare. Down the sky the moonbeams fly to light your face; I can only say they chose the proper place. You were never lovelier, and to coin a new phrase, I was never luckier In my palmiest days. Make a note, and you can quote me, honor bright, You were never lovelier than you are tonight."
Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth shine in this great musical
C. O. DeRiemer | 02/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you love Fred Astaire musicals you'll love this movie! Like many of his films there are many great songs you can sing along to and dance scenes that continue to amaze. Fred Astaire plays a man who gets put in a sticky situation, with Rita Hayworth, which in turn leads to love and trouble. Singing and dancing his way through he ends up on top. If you are a true fan you will love this movie, and if this is a first you'll be hooked for life."
Made Me Forget Ginger Whats-Her-Name
hoegerbooks | Santa Clara, CA USA | 09/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If it were ever possible for audiences to forget that Fred Astaire ever graced the dance floor with Ginger Rogers, it would have to be the film "You Were Never Lovelier." Featuring the stunning Rita Hayworth, I believe it is the better of the Astaire/Hayworth collaborations, the other being "You'll Never Get Rich."A little note about the plot, it's another one of those stories driven by mistaken identities that incessantly frustrate the audience and makes them wonder "Why won't anybody speak up?", but somehow the magnificent cast manages to pull it off quite well. The story does not lag, but moves along at a good pace. Anyway, it does make way for some delightful musical numbers such as Astaire's unforgettable solo for Acuna in Acuna's office (preluded by Astaire declaring "I hate dancing, but you're gonna watch me dance and you're gonna like it. Hit it, boys!"), Astaire and Hayworth dancing to "I'm Old-Fashioned" in the garden and to "Shorty George" later on during a rehearsal. These two prove that they are in excellent form and have left us a truly satisfying film. If you're a die-hard, Astaire/Rogers fanatic, you'll still like this film. "You Were Never Lovelier" definitely has more substance than the old RKO films. The only regret I have about these two is that Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth should have made more films together."