Cast & Crew
William A. Seiter
After losing his bankroll at a Buenos Aires racetrack, dancer Robert Davis attempts to ask hotel owner Edwardo Acuna for a job performing in his hotel's nightclub. Acuna is busily picking out his eldest daughter Julia's trousseau, however, and refuses to see Robert. In Acuna's waiting room, Robert encounters his old friend, Xavier Cugat, who is entertaining at the hotel with his band. Upon hearing of his friend's dilemma, Cugat suggests that Robert showcase his talent at Julia's wedding reception. Acuna has decreed that his daughters must wed in the order of their ages, and consequently, his two youngest daughters, Cecy and Lita, anxiously await the betrothal of thier romantically disinclined older sister Maria. Concerned about Maria's frigid demeanor, Acuna asks the advice of her godmother, Mrs. Maria Castro. When Mrs. Castro responds that Maria needs to be intrigued by a man, Acuna decides to invent a mystery admirer for his daughter. Each day, he sends a box of orchids to his daughter, accompanied by a passionate note signed "her unknown suitor." Acuna's scheme works, and soon Maria is looking forward to her daily deliveries. One day, Acuna is shaving in his office bathroom when Robert sneaks into the office. Unable to see Robert, Acuna mistakes him for the delivery boy and instructs him to take the orchids to Maria. After Maria sees Robert delivering the flowers, she thinks that he is her secret admirer and asks her father to invite him to the house. When Acuna explains the situation to Robert and asks his help in disenchanting Maria, Robert agrees to cooperate in exchange for a dancing contract. Upon meeting Maria that night, Robert is overwhelmed by her beauty and resists an impulse to kiss her by excusing himself to meet Cugat. The next day, Acuna insists that Robert honor their deal by convincing Maria that he was only courting her to win a contract with her father. Upon discovering that Robert's name was omitted from the guest list of the Acunas' twenty-fifth wedding anniversary costume ball, however, Maria and her godmother go to the rehearsal hall to invite him, and he accepts. When Acuna sees Robert at his party, he angrily announces that the dancer will be leaving for New York the next morning. Still desperate to marry off their older sister, Cecy and Lita decide to make Robert jealous so that he will refuse to leave for New York. To accomplish their goal, they send Fernando, Acuna's secretary, to cut in on Maria and Robert's dance. After Robert protests and pushes Fernando into a fountain, the sisters admit their scheme, and Maria, embarassed, declares that she is not in love with Robert. Later, Robert escorts Maria into the garden, where they confess their love for each other. When Robert tells Acuna that he is in love with Maria, Acuna warns him that Maria has fallen in love with an ardent admirer. After threatening to expose Robert, Acuna offers to compose a farewell note to Maria. As Acuna recites his romantic composition, his wife Delfina enters the room and, hearing her husband extolling the virtues of Maria, assumes that he has fallen in love with Maria Castro. When Delfina accuses her husband of infidelity, Mrs. Castro's husband Juan challenges him to a duel. To prevent bloodshed, Robert reveals Acuna's fabrication. Humiliated, Maria rejects Robert and storms out of the room. Maria's outburst convinces Acuna that his daughter really loves Robert, and he grants the dancer his permission to court her. When a room-sized load of orchids fails to convince Maria to change her mind, Robert takes Acuna's suggestion, and dresses up as a knight in shining armour. After he falls off his horse, Maria forgives him, and they begin to dance. Delighted, Lita and Cecy don their boyfriends' engagement rings.
William A. Seiter
Louis F. Edelman
P. J. Faulkner
Sixto Póndal Ríos
Frank [a.] Tuttle
You Were Never Lovelier
Astaire had performed with Hayworth's father, Latin dancer Eduardo Cansino. That family connection had helped him overcome his doubts about working with an actress almost as tall as he and 20 years his junior. From their first rehearsal for You'll Never Get Rich, he would dub her the first natural dancer he had worked with since his sister, Adele, had retired from their stage act. Years later, he would call Hayworth his favorite on-screen dancing partner.
When their first film together became a hit, Columbia Studios, which had released the film, quickly got to work developing another vehicle for the dancing stars. Latin subjects were in vogue at the time and Columbia, like other Hollywood studios, began marketing to South American moviegoers. Besides, European movie ticket sales had drastically dropped off ever since the start of World War II so Columbia decided to adapt an Argentinean film, The Gay Senorita. Astaire was cast as a dancer whose gambling losses strand him in Buenos Aires. When night club owner Adolphe Menjou's second daughter (Hayworth) refuses to marry, leaving her younger sisters with no chance of tying the knot until she gives in, Menjou starts sending the girl gifts from a secret admirer she mistakenly decides is Astaire. The situation created ample opportunities for dance numbers as Astaire performs with Cugat's orchestra in Menjou's club and first reluctantly, then amorously courts Hayworth.
The studio relied on Cugat to supply the Latin music, then assigned the rest of the score to Kern, a composer who had never been comfortable working in that style. Instead, he and lyricist Johnny Mercer supplied the classic "I'm Old Fashioned" as a perfect expression of Hayworth's character, the hit "Dearly Beloved" for Astaire's pose as her secret admirer and "The Shorty George" for an athletic rehearsal number. "Dearly Beloved" would reach the hit parade in recordings by Glenn Miller's orchestra and Dinah Shore. It even became a standard wedding piece for a while. A few years later, Mercer would paraphrase the lyrics, particularly "I know that I'll be yours come shower or shine," for an even bigger hit with music by Harold Arlen, "Come Rain or Come Shine." But then, the melody had already been recycled; Kern had borrowed it from a Puccini opera.
Space was at a premium on the lot during production, so Astaire found a room over a funeral parlor for dance rehearsals. Unlike many of his earlier partners, including Ginger Rogers, Hayworth was there for all the rehearsals while he was developing their routines. But every time a funeral procession went by the hall, they had to stop so the music and tapping feet wouldn't disrupt the proceedings. When that made the rehearsals too somber, Astaire distracted Hayworth with little jokes. They were using an ice bucket to cool soft drinks, and one time he dipped his hand in the ice before taking her in his arms for a romantic pas de deux.
Hayworth had scored solidly in several films the year before, including The Strawberry Blonde, with James Cagney, and Blood and Sand, with Tyrone Power. This helped make You Were Never Lovelier a major hit for the studio, and the film's success made her Columbia's top female star. The picture scored Oscar® nominations for its score, sound recording and the song "Dearly Beloved," though it lost in all three categories. Sadly it would mark Astaire's last teaming with Hayworth. Columbia kept her too busy for such elaborate musicals in the future, while his career carried him to MGM, where he would find new success dancing with such co-stars as Judy Garland, Vera-Ellen and Cyd Charisse.
Producer: Louis F. Edelman
Director: William A. Seiter
Screenplay: Michael Fessier, Ernest Pagano, Delmer Davies
Based on the Story and Screenplay The Gay Senorita by Carlos A. Olivari and Sixto Pondal Rios
Cinematography: Ted Tetzlaff
Art Direction: Lionel Banks, Rudolph Sternad
Music: Jerome Kern
Principal Cast: Fred Astaire (Robert Davis), Rita Hayworth (Maria Acuna), Adolphe Menjou (Eduardo Acuna), Leslie Brooks (Cecy Acuna), Adele Mara (Lita Acuna), Isobel Elsom (Mrs. Maria Castro), Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra (Themselves), Lina Romay (Herself).
by Frank Miller
You Were Never Lovelier
Rita Hayworth's singing was dubbed by Nan Wynn.
The song "On the Beam" was written for the film but not used.
The dance to "You Were Never Lovelier" was cut from the film after the previews.
The character played by Fred Astaire says he is from Omaha, Nebraska- Astaire's real-life birthplace.
Astaire and Hayworth rehearsed most of their routines in a funeral parlor.
The working titles of this film were Carnival in Rio and The Gay Senorita. A Hollywood Reporter news item adds that because all the sets on the Columbia lot were occupied, Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth were forced to rehearse in a hall on the grounds of Hollywood Cemetery. Prior to the film's release, Columbia launched a radio campaign featuring the songs heard in the picture, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. The song "Dearly Beloved" was nominated for an Academy Award and the picture was also nominated for Best Sound Recording and Best Score. Astaire and Hayworth previously starred together in the 1941 Columbia film You'll Never Get Rich (see below). Modern sources add that Nan Wynn dubbed Hayworth's singing voice. According to a news item in Los Angeles Herald Express, in 1989, Astaire's widow sued Columbia, claiming that the studio owed her at least $25,000 in receipts from this picture and You'll Never Get Rich. The outcome of that suit is not known.