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USA 1947
Directed by
Alexander Hall
101 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Down to Earth

Charles Vidor had taken Rita Hayworth to stardom with Cover Girl in 1944 and to the silver screen Pantheon with Gilda in 1946. With Down to Earth her studio, Columbia, tried to capitalize on her reputation but Alexander Hall wasn’t the director and this wasn’t the film to do so.

A kind of sequel to Hall’s own 1941 comedy Here Comes Mr Jordan and taking characters from a play by Harry Segall called ‘Heaven Can Wait’ (which would become the basis for Warren Beatty’s 1978 film of the same name), Down To Earth sees Hayworth as the Greek goddess of dance, Terpsichore, who gets wind that Broadway director/producer/actor Danny Miller (Larry Parks) is preparing a lowbrow musical comedy about her and her fellow muses called ‘Swinging the Muses’. Disguised as a mortal named Kitty Pendleton, with the approval of Heaven’s traffic co-ordinator, Mr Jordan (Roland Culver), she visits Earth in an attempt to transform the show into a work of art. But she comes to learn that for a musical comedy, Art is the kiss of Death.

With music by Doris Fisher and lyrics by Allan Roberts after a scene-setting preamble the film starts well with an appropriately vulgar production number ‘Kiss Of The Muse’ before swooping up to the Olympian realm and introducing Hayworth’s Terpsichore.  There is a good deal of fun to be had here playing on the high art/low entertainment opposition but thereafter the film settles down to become a rather routine variant of the “putting-on-a-show” type of musical albeit one with an evidently considerable budget and quality production values. 

There are not a lot of song-and-dance numbers and of those that there are none really stand out in either department.  Whilst Larry Parks, who starred the previous year in the surprisingly popular The Jolson Story adds nothing of note (literally, as his vocals were dubbed) or metaphorically, to proceedings, Hayworth not only looks gorgeous but throws herself into her role with enthusiasm (her vocals were dubbed by Anita Ellis) and this alone, for fans at least, will sustain attention. Edward Everett Horton, stalwart of the Astaire/Rogers musicals of the ’30s appears as Messenger 7013.




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