You’ll Never Get Rich Blu-ray Review: A Wealth of Talent

This 1941 musical is blessed with an abundance of talent, led by co-stars Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth and songs by Cole Porter. Although its script is about as generic as they come, it’s still a delight to see the stars bringing life to Porter’s tunes. 

Buy You’ll Never Get Rich Blu-ray

Astaire plays a Broadway choreographer named Robert working for a philandering old producer, with Rita Hayworth an alluring but sassy showgirl named Sheila who enters their orbit. When the married producer takes a liking to Sheila and buys her an extravagant bracelet, she turns the tables on him by putting it in his wife’s coat, leading the producer to enlist Robert’s help to get his wife off his back by pretending to be Sheila’s paramour. 

Of course all that pretending leads to real feelings between Robert and Sheila, especially when they’re paired for dance numbers in their upcoming musical, but it’s not a smooth path to happily ever after because of the year. Yes, since the U.S. was in the midst of ramping up its aid to the Allies on the cusp of our entry into the war, the film throws in a curveball when Robert decides to enlist, partially to escape the drama at work but mostly out of patriotism. One can almost feel the story lurch to a stop as its hastily added war angle gets shoehorned in, destroying the entire flow of the film in the process.

Once we’ve established that Robert is a patriot and helping Allies is good, the writers struggle to get the fledgling romance back on track, leading to some moral trickery on Robert’s part that culminates in a happy ending so abhorrent that the film would be instantly canceled if it was released today. Back then Robert’s brazen act was just laughed off as an ingenious scamp getting his way, with Sheila begrudgingly stuck with the unintended results. It’s still a fun film, but the final act leaves much to be desired due to its pro-war posturing and total disregard for Sheila’s independence.

The Blu-ray presents the black-and-white film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, with the mono soundtrack in DTS-HD Master Audio. The film quality is fairly clean, with a few specks here and there, and contrast levels remain consistent throughout most scenes. The disc’s only bonus feature is a theatrical trailer, along with a commentary track by a film historian. 

The film is mostly as one would expect: a lighthearted musical comedy that won’t really move the needle on your appreciation for any of the talent. It’s a charmer in the early going, but far from essential viewing due to its questionable conclusion. The formula’s the thing here, with better than average ingredients but typical results.

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Steve Geise

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