24 July 2005 | robin-moss2
A great star impeded by poor material and inappropriate make-up
If anyone wants to understand why the old movie studios could not withstand the competition from television, they should study "Tonight And Every Night", which exemplifies what was wrong with the old Hollywood studio system.
The film stars Rita Hayworth, one of the most charismatic and talented actresses ever to appear in movies. She is dressed by Jean Louis and photographed by Rudolph Mate. Apparently Columbia and Harry Cohn thought that was enough. It most certainly is not!
The screenplay is utter rubbish. There is almost no story; the dialogue in places is embarrassing; and the scenes where Lee Bowman "pitches" Rita Hayworth are so badly written - and make the Bowman character so unappealing - that it is impossible to believe any woman would have found the man attractive. The only interesting aspect to the story is the unrequited love Marc Platt's character has for Rita's showgirl, and the way he reacts when he realises there is no hope for him. Unfortunately the screenplay does not develop this, and instead lumbers towards a cliché-ridden happy resolution between Rita and Lee Bowman.
The songs have very little melody, despite having been written by Jule Styne, one the great tune-smiths of 20th Century popular music. Even worse, the dance numbers do not give Rita a chance to shine. All Jack Coles' routines are energetic, jitterbug affairs with arms and legs all over the place. There is not one elegant routine in the movie, not one moment of grace and poise. Astonishingly, although Rita had already proved in her movies with Fred Astaire that she was one of the great romantic dancers, she is not given a dance with a man - except for a few steps with Marc Platt before the camera pans away to focus on an uninteresting chorus line!
As was often the case in Rita's colour movies in the 1940's, she was impeded by the make-up department who put far too much rouge on her face. Rita was in the early stages of pregnancy when she made this movie, and occasionally it shows. Her breasts are bigger than normal - no man will complain about that! - and in the "Boy I Left Behind" duet with Janet Blair, Rita's lower stomach gives the game away.
"Tonight And Every Night" was not the worst film Rita made for Columbia: "Down To Earth" is far worse. "Tonight And Every Night" does, however, demonstrate how lazy and careless the old Hollywood studios were in the period before television.
It would have been easy for Columbia to have worked out a proper story line, to have pointed out to Jack Cole that Rita Hayworth needed a variety of dance numbers including at least one elegant, romantic routine, and to have given her a leading man who could dance.