Friday, 17 February 2017

On Blu-ray - David Hare reports on the stunning new edition of Charles Vidor's COVER GIRL

Rita Hayworth, Cover Girl
Says Otto Kruger ("Courdair") to Eve Arden ("Cornelia"), "What would you do if your youth should walk through the door?" She:"I'd put braces on his teeth". Thus begins the mythical wisecracking career of the great Eve Arden who would do the best of many lines in the following year's Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945). "Alligators have the right idea, they eat their young".  

The youth in question here is Rita Hayworth ("Rusty Parker") and the movie is Charles Vidor's Cover Girl, now out on a stunning, reference quality 4k restoration from 3 strip Technicoior elements. 
The new 4K was done under Grover Crisp and his team at Sony, with final work and authoring executed by MoC for a Region B fixed Blu Ray of outstanding pitch perfect quality. This is the new benchmark for the movie, and I believe for three strip Tech resurrections for a long time to come. You really won't believe your eyes. It wipes out the Twilight Time Blu ray from two years ago as comparatively insipid with reduced density or texture. 

The movie itself has always been a mixed bag for me. Favorite number is without doubt "Put me to the Test" which is done with minimal takes and shows off Rita as maybe Kelly's equal as a dancer. The rest of the Kern/Ira Gershwin score is charming but it's regrettable at this stage Columbia insisted on dubbing Rita (with Martha Mears) despite everyone else including Gene Kelly singing  their own songs. 

Indeed the movie generally strikes me is a mixed bag teetering from unrestrained giddy pleasure to uncharacteristic restraint, with only one number really showing off the style and pedigree of Kelly and Donen who both worked uncredited as dance directors in the Who's Complaining number, which is gorgeously filmed with sweeping cranes into and out of close shot, a visual trope that would become a Donen feature in the Arthur Freed years and beyond. Indeed the whole picture is bursting with notable talent, Virginia van Upp screenplay, dual DPs with the lion's share going to Rudy Mate and (also uncredited) Ernie Cronjager, producer Arthur Schwarz and more. I have to confess I never quite "got" the Columbia musical "style", where I always "got" the Warner, Astaire/Rogers, Freed/MGM Warner 50s, and Fox styles. But this movie and this absolutely stunning Technicolor three strip rebirth keeps encouraging me, saying "more, more"....

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