After they were paired successfully in 1941’s You’ll Never Get Rich, Columbia quickly brought Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth back together for another musical romp reminiscent of Astaire’s earlier films with Ginger Rogers. Set in Buenos Aires and based on the Argentine musical Los martes, orquídeas, You Were Never Lovelier also represented Columbia’s push to offset the loss of European markets during the war by targeting South American audiences instead.1 In a plot reminiscent of The Taming of the Shrew, Adolphe Menjou plays a nightclub owner eager to marry off his icy daughter (Hayworth). He begins sending her notes from a fictional secret admirer, hoping to put her in a more romantic mood that will attract real suitors. The notes work so well that Hayworth falls in love completely with this nonexistent man, leaving Menjou with no other choice than to conjure one up. Enter Astaire, a cocky New York performer who wants a job dancing at the nightclub to fund his habit of betting on horse races. He agrees to briefly pose as the admirer in exchange for a job from Menjou, but of course, he quickly falls for Hayworth. Their dance numbers together aren’t anything particularly impressive, but the songs—with music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Johnny Mercer—are lively and the leads still have a nice chemistry together. Nothing about it lives up to the best Astaire and Rogers films, but You Were Never Lovelier has enough charm to make it a worthwhile entry in the filmographies of both stars.
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|1.||^||Frank Miller, “You Were Never Lovelier,”Turner Classic Movies, accessed August 14, 2017.|