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Sometimes the road to bad movies is paved with good intentions. In
1980, the legendary 1940s screen icon Rita Hayworth was stricken with
Alzheimer's disease, which would tragically lead to her death in 1987.
Rita was cared for by her daughter Yasmin Khan during this terrible
period and when producer David Susskind proposed a TV movie biopic on
her mother's life, "Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess", Yasmin became
quite supportive of the idea while she brought public awareness to the
disease. Susskind began a search for unknown actresses to play the
former Love Goddess until he set his sights on an established TV star
who, like Rita, also had Irish-Hispanic roots...Lynda Carter.
And that's only one of the many problems in this poor excuse for a biopic. The lovely and talented Lynda Carter, fresh off her iconic role in the wildly popular 1970s TV series "Wonder Woman", simply doesn't resemble Rita Hayworth in the least. She bears no facial resemblance to Rita, has striking blue eyes as opposed to Rita's unique brown eyes and is too tall for the role. Lynda makes a valiant effort with her acting and musical talents, but she never rises above the level of an awkward impersonation. With her blue-eyed brunette physical features, Lynda would have been perfectly cast as 1940s MGM star Hedy Lamarr at the time, not Rita Hayworth.
The miscast supporting cast is problematic as well. Edward Edwards receives only a couple scenes as the egotistically brilliant Orson Welles, Rita's second husband, and his tall, dashing mustached form doesn't suggest Welles at all. In fact, with the exception of Alejandro Rey's Eduard Cansino and Aharon Ipalé's Prince Aly Khan, not a single supporting character even vaguely resembles their real-life role. The middle-aged, balding David Shelley delivers a decent performance as director Vincent Sherman--who really had a thick head of dark hair during the early 1950s--but the acting honors really go to Michael Lerner (BARTON FINK) as the notorious Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn. Despite his full head of hair for the role, Lerner's Cohn is an intensely riveting portrayal of a loathsome, monstrous Hollywood movie mogul with a keen eye for talent who bellows at, threatens and dominates his employees with the cruelest iron fist--including the shy and polite yet strong-willed protagonist--to get his own way. Lerner's compelling performance is perhaps the only thing that makes this lackluster biopic worth seeing.
But the worst offenders are the production values and the screenplay. The same sets are repeatedly used due to a low budget and give very little indication of the passage of time from 1935 to 1955. And the screenplay is an irritating mess; it sticks closely to the most basic facts of Rita's screen career but it's too darn rushed to inform the audience of Rita's prolific filmography and make the audience care about the cardboard characters within a 100-minute running time. So many positive aspects of Rita's life are omitted entirely, including her good relationship with her unmentioned brother Vernon Cansino, her ideal working relationship with Fred Astaire behind the scenes of the musicals YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH (1941) and YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942), her lifelong friendship with Glenn Ford and her numerous contributions to the Allied war effort during World War II. We are given only passing glimpses of Hayworth's screen career, with an abruptly anticlimactic ending to top off a lousy screenplay.
Sorry, but Lynda Carter is not Rita Hayworth. Due to the fascinating and biographical subject matter, this TV movie biopic is just disappointingly painful, not absurdly laughable. If anything, Rita Hayworth deserves a well-written, lovingly produced epic biopic like Richard Attenborough's GANDHI (1982) and CHAPLIN (1992), not an awful 100-minute TV movie with a miscast lead who would have been perfect playing Hedy Lamarr. For antidotes of this televised waste of time, fans of Carter can watch "Wonder Woman" while Hayworth fans can simply watch anything with the original Rita Hayworth. It is the only way to get a proper glimpse of what made Rita Hayworth so enduring and special.
I saw this movie when premiere in television long ago , i been a fan of Rita Hayworht and when they said they will make a movie about her life i was very happy, Rita at the time of the movie was alive but very sick, the selection of Linda Carter was a big mistake she was of iris and Mexican decent La Hayworth was of iris and Spanish decent and both look very different Rita was sublime the most beautful women of her time.the movie was very bad. Carter has nothing to do with Hayworth she was well know as wonder woman but she don't have sex appel or look as beautiful as Rita.i will not recommend this movie is a waste of time and energy
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