You'll Never Get Rich begins as a goofy comedy about womanizing theatre owner Martin Cortland (Robert Benchley, amusingly cantankerous) who buys his wife Julia (Frieda Inescort) a cheap back-scratcher and his hopeful mistress Sheila (Hayworth) a pricey diamond bracelet. When Julia finds the bracelet, engraved with dancer Sheila's name, she threatens divorce. Martin insists his buddy Robert (Fred Astaire) pose as Sheila's suitor in order to fool his wife. This scenario sparks an increasingly complicated romantic entanglement.
The action shifts to an Army base when Robert is drafted and for a while the film feels like a less-funny Buck Privates. The musical performances continue as Martin is brought in to produce a big show for the troops on the base. A love triangle develops between Robert, Sheila, and Captain Tom Barton (John Hubbard). The gears grind a bit as the plot thickens with all sorts of complications, but the song-and-dance stuff always manages to bail it out. Astaire and Hayworth are truly a treat. Although a better film (You Were Never Lovelier) was around the corner for the pair, this one has the historical benefit of being their first.
Perhaps the best sequence is one that Astaire handles all on his own. To the tune of Porter's instrumental "March Milastaire (A-Stairable Rag)," Astaire delivers a spectacular tap routine. The all-black band that backs Astaire's footwork is, at the very least, allowed to share the guardhouse (Robert gets up to various forms of trouble, including impersonating a Captain) with the white soldiers. Though this was probably done simply for convenient staging purposes, it can also be looked at as a small step toward equality in an era of oppressive segregation.
To order Twilight Time's You'll Never Get Rich Blu-ray (which includes an isolated music track), visit their official website. Alternatively, visit TT's distributor Screen Archives.