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The Acunas, a rich Argentine family, have the tradition that the daughters have to get married in order, oldest first. When sister #1 gets married, sisters #3 and #4 put pressure on Maria, sister #2, because they have their husbands picked out already. But Maria hasn't yet met a man she likes. Eduardo Acuna, believing that men aren't romantic enough these days, sends his daughter flowers and anonymous love letters, creating a "mystery man" for her to fall in love with. He intends to pick out an appropriate beau for her later, to fill the role. But Robert Davis, an American dancer looking for work, stumbles into the picture. Maria falls for him, but the father does not approve. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
...and Fred Astaire was never as boyishly charming as he is here. This is a lovely, escapist, feel-good musical made in the early 40's to appease WW2-weary audiences. This is Rita and Fred's second (and final) outing after the surprise success of 'You'll Never Get Rich', and, while the first film was very enjoyable, this is an improvement on it's predecessor.
Hayworth shines as the girl who's not very interested in marriage until a 'secret admirer' and Fred Astaire come into the picture. She's very beautiful and glamorous in the role; the 'Cansino-to-Hayworth' transformation was going along nicely at the film's time of release. Astaire is always very appealing, and he does light comedy quite well. This hs a far sharper script than 'You'll Never Get Rich' and benefits from the non-wartime backdrop. Yes, the war was going on when Rita and Fred were making dancing magic, but you'd never know it from the happy little self-contained vacuum that Columbia creates for the pair in a story meant to be set in exotic South America.
I guess Rita, with her Latin roots, was the perfect choice for Maria, and she manages to outdo the master Astaire in the Latino-inspired dance routines. Her singing is dubbed, but Rita's dancing is sublime and her acting is very effective.
This film also has more memorable songs than the 1941 Astaire-Hayworth outing (I don't particularly like to compare, but it's hard not to), with 'You Were Never Lovelier', 'Shorty George' and 'I'm Old Fashioned' being great tunes. 'Shorty George' entranced me so much that I re-played the sequence on DVD three times before I moved forward in the film!
It doesn't have much of a plot, but we know that Astaire's musicals were always light on this factor so we can be forgiving. What it does have is a perfect, innocent sweetness that cannot possibly be recaptured today. From early scenes with Astaire trying to make conservation with a haughty Rita, to the final scene where the awkward yet lovable Fred arrives as Rita's 'knight in shining armor' on a white horse, 'You Were Never Lovelier' is just...well, lovely.
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