Subtext of Cover girl

This might be a cynic’s view of the movie, but underneath all the glamour, I couldn't help but notice that the message of this movie was, that a woman shouldn't be more successful than her man. If she is, everybody around her will be unhappy.

"An eye for an eye, and the whole world goes blind"


That's an interesting thought that certainly bears some discussion. I hadn't really thought about it in those terms, but I think you're definitely onto something, but I was content that that message was counterbalanced by the presence of Eve Arden's Jackson who certainly was a woman who wasn't gonna take crap from anyone and who more or less rolled her eyes at any of the bs that Coudaire and that other toolbox were up to.
Equally disturbing to me was that Danny and Rusty don't march off into the sunset alone - they've got the creepy 3rd wheel presence of Genius to contend with. That guy needed to be given the molten lead douche in the worst way. But I digress . . .


It's no "subtext" -- it's right up front, and it's typical of the times. All this tsk-tsking is totally pointless. You can't apply modern standards and attitudes to those of 60 years ago. Never mind the message -- lighten up and enjoy the movie for its many charms, such as the stunning and innovative dances, the chemistry between Rita and Gene, the over-the-top 40s fashion, and best of all, the acid wit of Eve Arden.


My Mom and I saw this movie this week and were discussing the same thing. She thought that Gene should have let her take the job and be happy for her (which he basically told her he would do when the slimeball offered it to her). I thought that she could (and should) take the job, but tell slimeball that she was his employee and that this does not mean she would be his 'girl' - she was in love with Gene. Mom said that if this is what Gene wanted, he should have proposed - I reminded her that they'd only known one another for six months at that point. Mom is in her 70s, I'm 20 years younger....


Yes, I think that this and the main theme (that love is the most important thing in life)both serve the same purpose:

Note that it is made in 1946 - the war was over, the G.Is were coming home and wanted their jobs back - this was an early example of the back lash. Suddenly fiction was full of women who chose love, marriage and babies before career - and the women who didn't have that choice were to be pitied. Even succesful and intelligent women like Ms Stonewall were supposed to secretely wish for that and to be pitied if they didn't have the choice.

With today's eyes it is hard to understand why it would be a problem that Hayworth's character hit it big and was offered a better paying gig - it wasn't as if she was lead in any of the numbers anyway - she could easily be replaced. If he was pissed that his meal ticket was leaving, that would be bad form, but understandable - but he is pissed that his own show gets more punters...



lundbomj, actually the film was released in 1944, during the height of combat.


I think that message is prevalent in a lot of films made in the 40's and 50's.


This message is still prevalent TODAY in films! Come on! The women always get punished for having a career. Take DIE HARD, for example, his wife is more successful than him, and what happens? Because of her, the ENTIRE BUILDING is blown up!!

Now that's sending a pretty powerful message. Don't be more successful than your husband or Nakatomi Plaza will BLOW UP!! Damn, that's a lot of pressure for us girls...

And how many films do we see the total bitch career woman? Unfortunately, this stereotype DOES tend to be true... But anyway, I totally LOVED Cover Girl in spite of whatever whatever the message, it's got "Long Ago and Far Away", gorgeous Rita dancing and Gene Kelly!!

And there really is something to the fact that love is important. Although it is not supposed to be as important to the men...


This "Die-Hard" analogy is almost as good as this movie "Cover Girl"!!!!

I loved this flick, though. Always loved Gene but I did not know Rita Hayworth was so special!! (Sigh) I am sorry that "Long Ago and Far Away" didn't evolve into a bigger dance number, but they did leave me wanting more-that's for sure-and I guess there's something to be said for that. That particular song would have screamed for an Astaire/Rogers kind of pas de deux and Kelly probably avoided that deliberately and wouldn't have welcomed the invitiation to comparison that would've inevitably followed. And whoever said in a separate thread that Eve Arden was a "hoot" hit the nail on the head. I LOVE HER! She adds so much to everything she's in! I will definitley be looking for more Rita in the future, though. I have to say, she dances very well but I can't tell if she was seriously trained or if she was just winging it. But she's a natural!!!!!A joy to watch all the way!


Thanks also for the nod to Eve Arden...a brillint actress who cracked wise better than anyone in the 40's and 50's and always made the most of every moment she had onscreen.


I enjoyed reading your reaction to the film, Peej!


Yes, that is the cynic's view. It is an absurd interpretation, one that bespeaks post-60's political correctness and revisionism.

Like, "Beethoven was gay! You can hear it in the Fifth Symphony!" which was actually postulated in a "serious" analysis of Beethoven's music, it is finding what you want to find, whether it's there or not.




I don't think that it's an absurd interpretation at all.
It would be absurd to think that movies don’t have sub-texts.

Whether the original poster’s question is correct is one thing, but there certainly isn’t a problem with asking the question. Having seen the film a number of times, I tend to think the sub-text is there.

Don’t see things that don’t exist, but neither should you be blind to things that do.
It's still a good movie and I enjoy it immensely, but the sub-text sure seems to be there.


I didn't get that subtext at all! What I got was a worse message (to me): that women are pushovers for rich guys with honeyed tongues. I totally believe that Rusty would have gone through with the wedding if she hadn't known about the pearl and about her grandmother & John - two reprieves that came to her from external sources at the very last minute. She may not have been happy about the wedding, but she wasn't prepared to back down from it until those 2 things were put into her mind.

I can't help wondering how long she was engaged to Noel before the wedding. Surely she had plenty of time to examine her own mind and come to the conclusion she still loved Danny. Why did it take the friendship of Genius
and Stonewall (and ultimately John) to bring her around?

Rusty was a gold-digger from the time she started going out to John's "events" and avoiding Danny's. This piece of the movie showed that she had not yet any intention of going on Broadway (she was still expected to turn up for rehearsals and the 'second show'), but that she was more interested in socializing with the rich guys than being with the man she loved, not to mention she was playing hooky from work! I much preferred the strong and snarky Stonewall.


"Good night, Vienna, city of a million something-or-others..."


"I can't help wondering how long she was engaged to Noel before the wedding. Surely she had plenty of time to examine her own mind and come to the conclusion she still loved Danny. Why did it take the friendship of Genius
and Stonewall (and ultimately John) to bring her around?"

Well, I think partly it's because this film is really about one word if it's about anything: community. It's about your responsibility to other people who you are close to, the fact that even if you could circumvent fate and rise to the top of the ladder of success without your friends, it wouldn't be worth it. So for Hayworth to make that decision without the input from Genius would be besides the point, by my way of seeing it.

"Cover Girl", while featuring an exquisite score from Kern and Ira Gershwin, is an attempt at a modernization of the "Cinderella" story in more than just a temporal sense. Here the wealthy man who is trying to marry Rita's character is the one that you want to root against. I thought it was interesting insofar as it represents an attempt to reach out to include the concept of a "modern woman", something that Arden's character in particular embodied -- she's smart and she's not afraid to show it around her male co-workers. The standard approach for "Cinderella" stories in the 20s/30s was to have the "prince" pretend to be poor (or suffer from amnesia and believe himself to be poor, other variations, etc.) so that he would be sure that his woman's love was true. You can switch the genders but that's a minor variation. I thought "Cover Girl" was interesting in that there's no deception on either side -- the heroine is basically being given a choice of true love vs. wealth (kind of like the old Patsy Cline song "A Poor Man's Roses"). As Krueger and his protege plan the ways they will take her away from her impoverished lover (Kelly's character, Danny), Eve Arden's character pointedly asks -- "have you thought about asking her what she wants?". I think this was a fairly fresh concept in this type of film at the time it was made.


I don't think the message was necessarily against a girl becoming successful. Her boyfriend actually wanted her to make it big, but was just against the way she did it. Rusty wouldn't have made it big so quickly if she didn't look like her grandmother, which is what won her the contest. It wasn't even that she was pretty; a lot of the girls were pretty. It was just a coincidence that the editor still carried a torch for her grandma. And I doubt she would've made it so quickly to Broadway if the theater owner didn't have the hots for her. I guess the point was to show that becoming successful for the wrong reasons and being "too good" for your real friends will make you depressed in the end.


In terms of Rusty being a gold digger, I don't entirely disagree. Rita Hayworth played a gold digger in other films - Gilda, for one. But, she wasn't really a gold digger in that, either. Just pretended to be.

The point is, while there is no single paradigm, it's common for sex symbols to play gold diggers - Harlow (Dinner at Eight) in the 30s, Monroe (Gentleman Prefer Blonds) in the 50s. Those two were pure gold diggers. Hayworth in about 1/2 her films (Cover Girl, Gilda, Lady from Shanghai, Carmen) is a variation of the gold digger - it plays into Hayworth's characters, but her persona was much different in that she was never tacky, cheap, dumb or easily bought. It was also not a funny gag. Rita was modern, intelligent, and independent - so her characters had those same strengths, and they kicked in at some point in the film. If she was a gold digger, it had to do with her salvation and survival. Harlow's gold digger lays in bed all day wearing fancy negligees and eating bon-bons. The amount of gold digger allowed in RH characters was based how studios shaded the shifting ideals of women. If she was sinister (Shanghai) then she paid a price for being a gold digger - by death. If she had a heart of gold - she revealed that through song and dance - and ultimately ended up with the right guy (Cover Girl). Gilda and Carmen are more complex.

So while Rusty might have Gold Digger intincts, she's justified because she's tired of working - she has clearly paid her dues. The problem is Rusty has too much talent to be a Gold Digger. Which is why in the end, she goes back to Brooklyn - to dance. This concept also plays into Monroe's persona - in real life and in film. See, I'm so enteligint.


---I grew up in, was the time of the war plants, that could not have been run 24 hours a day without women. My Mom worked in one on the swing shift. My Dad was too old for the draft so worked at the Post Office for the duration. After the war, Mom worked outside the home for money, off and on the rest of her life. Being a Housefrau and kids just wasn't enough for her.

I watched my tape of "Cover Girl" yesterday. I cringed at Rusty cowtowing to pouting Kelly. Every time he gets that hang-dog look, she has to pretend that she isn't what she is - a talented woman on the way up.

I don't remember as a kid, seeing this in a theater, thinking the message was "get back to your kitchens and have babies, and smile pretty for your Man", but I see it now.

It is the way with power - if you have it, you want to keep it. And men have always had the power.

But Rita was gorgeous, and she ended up a real life princess, even if it didn't last.


"When I am old I will wear purple with a red hat that won't go and won't suit me"



Yeah, the underlying theme is sexist by today's standards.

But at least they didn't do a damned minstrel number in black face. I watched Thousands Cheered this weekend, which was enjoyable, but the minstrel number was particularly uncomfortable to watch. A lot of movies of that era had politically incorrect messages or images for the day.

Can you imagine Gigi being made today? In it a Parisian playboy falls for a child that he's been the friend of the family to for years. So you get the prospect of a twenty something year-old ogling and marrying a 16-year-old. Not to mention that she's been raised to be a courtesan (which today could be considered a high-price high-class call girl) by her grand mother and great aunt.

Or Peter Pan. The whole Indian sequence is pretty racist by today's standards.

My advice, enjoy these movies for what they are, as documents of their times.


Interesting interpretation. One may see it that way. I see it more as a movie about how true love transcends material pleasures and self-obsession. While Rusty was a beautiful woman, paraded through society and Broadway revues, she was really beautiful together with Danny, because they are truly happy even though they have little more than love. Danny was concerned for Rusty. Rusty thinks he is being jealous and possessive over her new found glory. Rusty maintains her dignity and freedom of choice by going as a cover girl and purposefully spiting Danny. When she sees how empty and lonely her life is, the expression "home is where the heart is" shines through and she is reunited with Danny. The entire movie is about Rusty's dilemma, and she and the audience knows that she made the right choice, to give up a life of splendor and security for love.