So, I’m having a geek moment:
Below is the only piece of film footage I have found featuring Hollywood actress-screenwriter-producer, Virginia Van Upp. While Van Upp appeared in several early films as a child actress, many of these titles are now lost, or only exist as fragments. Although Van Upp was happy to swap acting for writing and producing, it seems she still retained some aspirations to act. She reportedly completed a screen test for one of the movies that she wrote entitled, Honeymoon in Bali (1939). Van Upp also planned to appear as an extra in The Loves of Carmen (1948). In 1983, Van Upp herself was portrayed by actress Jane Hallaren in the television movie Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess.
Note on footage:
In 1949, Van Upp attended Rita Hayworths’s wedding to Prince Aly Khan in Cannes. I noticed Van Upp in the below Pathé newsreel at around: 32 seconds. During the wedding ceremony Van Upp is standing by the wall on the far right, wearing a large, bonkers black hat and black-and-white patterned dress. Van Upp also appears again standing outside the wedding venue. You really get a sense of how petite she was – something reporters would often emphasize.
Hayworth and Van Upp were close friends. Van Upp wrote the screenplay to Cover Girl (1944) and produced and wrote Gilda (1946); both are two of Hayworth’s most memorable movies. For various labor reasons Van Upp did not receive writing credit for Gilda; this greatly angered Columbia Pictures studio boss Harry Cohn, who thought Van Upp more than deserved full credit.
Thanks to Pathé for making the footage accessible to the public!
I had a great time last weekend at the Film and History Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. It was wonderful to meet up with old and new friends. Film and History is often referred to as one of the friendliest and most collegiate conferences in the Untied States and I’ve certainly found this to be the case.
My presentation was on the unique production history of Cover Girl (1944) written by Virginia Van Upp, and starring Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly and Lee Bowman. I’m extremely grateful to the panel organizer Deborah Carmichael and my fellow panelist Philip Sewell, both of whom gave insightful and meticulously researched presentations on local exhibition strategies. I’m also super appreciative for the advice I received in the Q&A session from the scholars who attended our panel. It’s so fabulous to come back from a conference and feel this inspired.
Below are a few of the PowerPoint slides I included in my talk.
I like to think of the below title slide’s background as ‘ironic pink.’ The movie employs the same pink satin background for its titles and credits.
Publicity for Cover Girl
Oh, cruel irony!
I’m excited to be presenting a paper this Friday in Wisconsin on Columbia Pictures Technicolor musical, Cover Girl (1944) starring Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, and Lee Bowman. However, I just found out that MoMA will be screening the restored version of this movie at exactly the same time. The movie will be introduced by Grover Crisp, Executive Vice President of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering, Sony Pictures Entertainment.
At least I’ll get back to New York in time to catch the second screening of the film on Monday, but I’m terribly disappointed to miss Crisp’s talk.
The restoration was screened this summer at the Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival in Italy and by all accounts it is magnificent. David Bordwell described it as the best DCP rendering of Technicolor that he has ever seen.
For my presentation I’ll be employing the teletypes and story conference notes held at the American Heritage Center in Wyoming, to discuss the movie’s unique production history and elaborate nationwide exploitation campaign.
Eight out of the fifteen cover girls selected by various women’s publications to appear in the movie.
From 5th Ave to Sunset Blvd. High fashion meets Hollywood in the movie Cover Girl.
In my continued search for materials relating to Hollywood screenwriter-producer Virginia Van Upp, I was last week fortunate enough to visit the American Heritage Center (AHC) in Laramie, Wyoming, where I made some exciting discoveries.
The AHC holds an extensive collection of materials concerning the day-to-day operation of Columbia Pictures (1929 -1974). Van Upp worked at Columbia between the years 1941 – 1947. Her most successful movie at the studio was Gilda (1946), which she both wrote and produced. She briefly returned to work for the studio in 1951, assisting Rita Hayworth with the production of Affair in Trinidad.
The Columbia Pictures Collection at the AHC primarily consists of daily teletypes transmitted between the New York and Los Angeles offices. In these communications studio producers discuss particular films, publicity stunts, music rights, but above all else: Rita Hayworth! Discussions about Hayworth concern her films, contracts, clothes, travel arrangements, future productions, relationships….etc.
In addition to the teletypes, the collection also contains a few “Story Conference” transcriptions in which writers and producers discuss problems with various scripts and films. Among these records I found a few pages pertaining to the making of Gilda.
A big THANK YOU to the archivists at the AHC, all of whom are amazing.
My next port of call will be the Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles.
American Heritage Center (AHC), Wyoming