This is one of the popular musicals of the war years (1944), starring Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. This love story is a comedy drama about a chorus girl named Rusty "Chicken" Parker (Rita Hayworth) working at McGuire's club owned by her boyfriend Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly). Columbia Studios made this a showcase for Rita Hayworth, but gave Gene Kelly control over the film, especially about dance routines, singing and choreography. The film has lavish costumes, great dance routines, and excellent music. Several dance routines performed by Danny and Rusty includes songs by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin. The classic song "Long Ago and Far Away" won the 1944 Academy Award for best musical scoring. Danny's dance with Rusty; "Put Me to the Test", or the joyful dance "Make Way for Tomorrow" (with Genius) is simply outstanding and very entertaining. Phil Silvers as Danny's sidekick "Genius" has performed brilliantly; although he is known for his comedy routines (as Sgt. Bilko in the TV series); he fits perfectly in dance and singing routines with Danny and Rusty.
Everything goes well at the McGuire's club until Rusty is offered to model for the popular magazine "Cover Girl," by a wealthy owner John Coudair (Otto Kruger). Soon it comes to light that he had loved Rusty's grandmother, and lost her in his bid to become her husband. This is an interesting twist in the story but nevertheless the flash backs are interesting, and Rita Hayworth looks adorable in 19th century costume. During this time Rusty is introduced to Broadway producer Noel Wheaton (Lee Bowman), who is attracted to Rusty; he proposes to her, and Rusty accepts his proposal. In the end she has a change of heart and realizes that she loves Danny. She goes in search of him who is now entertaining troops with Genius. At the end the two lovebirds get back together with some help from Genius. This is a classic love story in which Rita Hayworth is dazzling. The chemistry between Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth is perfect. The story is well crafted to show the simple life of a chorus girl. When she hits the stardom and becomes famous; at the height of her success she finds something is missing in her life, the joys of simple life at McGuire's club. Lauren Bacall in her autobiography revealed that she was first offered the title role, but she tuned it down. The studios could not have made a better choice by offering this role to Hayworth. After this movie, she became a "pinup" girl fantasized by GIs during WW II, which was a huge publicity for the studios. In direct competition with Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox Studios discovered Betty Grable as a fantasy girl for GIs. This movie is the first successful work of director Charles Vidor, who went on to make such classics as Gilda (Rita Hayworth), A Song to Remember (Cornel Wilde), and Love Me or Leave Me (Doris Day). This movie is highly recommended to all fans of Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly.