You'll Never Get Rich(released Sept/41)is a better than average vehicle for Mr.Astaire,and is one of two films he would make for Columbia and with the same artist,Rita Hayworth.After having just finished working with the Artie Shaw band and Burgess Meredith in Second Chorus,he was on hiatus and out playing golf when three offers came in,two from Columbia(this and You Were Never Lovelier) and one from Paramount,Holiday Inn.Upon "Rich's" release the film did great box office and assuaged "moaning minnie"(Fred's sister Adele's 'endearing' term for her brother)that all was still good in the Astaire universe.
The plot involves Astaire as dancer Robert Curtis who works for company owner Martin Cortland(the ever amusing Robert Benchley).Cortland has a wandering eye and his 15 year marriage is always a divorce away as he showers bauble's on every new chorus girl that catches his eye.Rita Hayworth as Sheila Withrop is just such a new dancer in the company and Cortland buys a bauble for her.However his wife,due to a flustered mix up of Cortland's own making,is on to his newest "tryst".His excuses t his wife are getting lamer and they are now starting to put Robert into harm's way.In fact when Robert is enlisted to help Cortland weasel his way out of his predicament with Sheila and wifey,Robert is eventually "threatened" with a gun by Sheila's boyfriend so Robert decides enough is enough and he enlists in the army.
Robert isn't exactly GI and gets on the wrong side of the sargent more often than not.One day he spies Sheila on the base and from then on he is hell bent on seeing her no matter the consequences.At one point he even goes to the extent of stealing a captains uniform and arriving at the home in which she is staying at in the camp.His act is soon outed as he finds out Sheila's boyfriend is a real captain.As a result of this and other faux pauxs he seems to spend more time in the guard house than out.Through it all the two fall in love,Robert of course before Sheila but Sheila comes on strong in the end.
Robert's old boss Cortland comes to the camp wanting to put a show on.Of course he enlists the aid of his old pal Robert...a for-free and talented performer.There is more,as Cortland has found a new ingenue and wants HER in the lead instead of Sheila.But Robert is insistent on Sheila and it is around this time Sheila has freely admitted her affection for Robert.But a bracelet in Robert's apartment off base(he has to go AWOL to get there)with the initials of Cortland's ingenue,is found by Sheila.She wants nothing to do with him from that moment and this infuriates Robert to do a little blackmailing of his own starting with sicking Cortland's wife on his old boss.
The big show comes and Robert,unbeknownst to Sheila,has planted a real preacher into the show to marry them.When Sheila finds out she is beside herself.In the end Cortland comes clean with what exactly has been going on,revealing to Sheila it was HE who planted the bracelet meant for the ingenue and that Robert had nothing to do with any of it.Robert and Sheila live happily ever after.
There is nothing terribly inspiring with the plot,but there are some good sight gags off and on and Rita and Fred have some good chemistry together.There is also nothing inspiring about the music either,coming from Cole porter no less,but Fred as always could sing the New York phone book and it would sound great.During their first meeting Rita was awfully shy about working with Mr Astaire and Fred put Rita at ease as much as he could,such as talking about her father who he knew from vaudeville.Fred would say later that Rita was one of the fastest on the uptake of all of his partner's when it came to learning a dance routine.A few rehearsals,a break for lunch and when they returned she would have it nailed.Rita was terribly shy off camera but Fred was amazed that when that camera rolled this alter ego,so to speak,popped out of her and she became the actress we all see now.It's what brought her to the attention of studio owner Cohn in the first place.It was a pleasant shoot all around and Fred enjoyed working with Robert Benchley too.The feeling was quite mutual.Watch for a cameo appearance by Buster Keaton's long time associate Harold Goodwin in the scene in the house where Astaire gets outed as not a real captain.
Technically speaking the movie is generally clear and crisp but the film does show its age and has a few rough spots throughout and needs a good remastering.Having said that,the film stock in the 40s during wartime was not of the highest grade and many films of this period have the same problems,especially graininess.There are no extras except the trailers.
All in all not a great Astaire entry but an above average film with lots of humour throughout,and as usual no one could touch the peerless Mr Astaire with his terpsichorean feats of wonder.The film did so well the second one with Hayworth was a natural result.Recommended.