When asked to pick a film that I’d equate with ice cream for a sweet-inspired blogathon, I recalled the Rita Hayworth-Fred Astaire confection, You Were Never Lovelier. The plot is so silly: a sexist father, Eduardo Acuña (Adolphe Menjou), creates an imaginary secret admirer for his daughter, Maria (Rita Hayworth). He thinks he can handpick her suitor and pretend the boy is writing the love notes he himself is penning. But Maria mistakes a dancer, Robert (Fred Astaire), for her admirer, and much confusion ensues. It’s hard to explain why a story like this could win over its audience, especially since Maria is ridiculously susceptible, Robert directionless, and the film’s portrayal of Argentinians fantastical. And yet….What’s the primary feeling while watching? Utter delight. Try to watch it without grinning, rewinding, and pressing play again.
Why, you might ask?
Well, here’s our hero, Robert (Fred Astaire), dancing on a desk to protest Acuña’s refusal to consider him for his nightclub:
There’s the very funny meet cute between Robert and Maria, an encounter that doesn’t go well thanks to some snarky remarks by the former, who doesn’t know who she is.
And there’s the heavenly dancing. Within one scene Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire make you forget the implausibility of the story because these are two of the most expressive dancers ever. From their first dance in, you’re entranced by their characters’ romance. How could you not be convinced, after watching them together?
The sweet, Oscar-nominated score is lovely, and the songs are catchy. “I’m Old-Fashioned” always makes me smile. Listen to Ella Fitzgerald’s version, or even better, watch a much longer clip than I’ve posted here at TCM, with Hayworth lip syncing it (sung by Nan Wynn) to Astaire’s Robert.
And that’s just one scene. I envy all of you who haven’t seen this film. You’re in for a treat.