“To a hungry man, a lamb chop is a tasty dish — but to the butcher, it’s just another hunk of meat.”
A choreographer (Fred Astaire) helps his philandering boss (Robert Benchley) get out of hot water with his suspicious wife (Frieda Inescort) by pretending to have purchased an engraved diamond bracelet for one of his beautiful showgirls (Rita Hayworth). He soons finds himself in trouble with Hayworth’s beau (John Hubbard), and enlists in the army to escape; meanwhile, he realizes he really does care for Hayworth, and tries to win her heart.
Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth’s first film together was this WWII musical comedy, featuring a catchy yet surprisingly forgettable score by Cole Porter. The ridiculous military “subplot” (actually a major part of the movie) is an enormous distraction from what we really want to see: Astaire and Hayworth dancing and falling in love. Whenever they’re together — or when Astaire dances alone — we’re in heaven; but when we’re forced to watch Astaire getting in continual trouble with his superiors — and landing repeatedly in an impossibly clean military brig — the story falters and sinks. Robert Benchley is intermittently amusing as the childishly caddish millionaire who lies through his teeth as a matter of course and isn’t above using his employees to get himself out of hot water, while Frieda Inescort as his snobbish wife is perfectly cast — but neither they nor Astaire and Hayworth can quite work the necessary magic with this sub-par script. With that said, while I can’t recommend You’ll Never Get Rich as must-see viewing, I suspect most film fanatics will be curious to at least check it out once, given its historical importance as the film which helped propel Hayworth to true cheesecake status.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Astaire and Hayworth’s too-short initial tap dance together
- Astaire’s fabulous solo dances in the guardhouse
- Astaire and Hayworth dancing to “So Near and Yet So Far” during the army show rehearsal
No. While it holds some historical importance as Astaire and Hayworth’s first outing together, it’s ultimately not must-see viewing.