Transatlantic Misinterpretation & Appropriation: Tonight & Every Night (1943)


Poster for Tonight & Every Night (1943)

(1945) ‘Movie of the Week: Tonight & Every Night. Rita Hayworth Dances Through the Blitz’ Life. 12 February. 109-115

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It is not surprising that Hollywood saw potential in the Windmill’s ‘We Never Closed’ narrative. By the time America entered the war on the 8th of December 1941, war themes were already very much on the American cultural agenda. Hollywood was keen to appeal to export markets & in several cases to win over US isolationists,[1] so had already begun to adapt its various products & promote its stars for the wartime market.

The film was a subject of a four-page pictorial ‘Film of the Week’ feature in Life magazine (for more on Life, see ‘Exporting the Windmill Myth‘) whereby it was described as a ‘good-looking, exhuberant musical comedy’ based on a ‘realistic & emotional war play.’

The review also refers to the film’s ‘vaudeville striptease’ sequence whose inclusion in the film suggests either a misunderstanding or creative interpretation of the kind of entertainment the windmill was legally permitted to offer (for more on this, see ‘Censorship, Transatlantic [mis]interpretation & Murder at the Windmill (1949)‘)

Despite the film being marketed as a quality production (the poster tag line refers to ‘A beautiful picture’, it is a stage play adaptation & it is ‘directed by VICTOR SAVILLE’), with excellent production values (‘in Technicolor!’), it is safe to say that the film wasn’t a favourite for Windmill producer, Vivian Van Damm.  In his biographical memoir Tonight & Every Night: The Windmill Story, he claims:

‘In taking my title Tonight & Every Night for this book, it is a gentle leg-pull at the expense of the Hollywood people who without asking my permission or even a by-your-leave made a film with Rita Hayworth all about the Windmill Theatre.’[1]

As such, an understandably irked Van Damm discussed Tonight & Every Night as ‘a travesty of Windmill life.’[1]

Perhaps somewhat ironically for someone who himself was notorious for his occasionally dubious promotional techniques, Van Damm criticised the title & the film as an inauthentic, pale imitation of the Windmill’s own mythology.[2]

To return to the main #TheyNeverClothed exhibition catalogue page click here.

[1] Van Damm, V. (1955) Tonight and Every Night: The Windmill Story. London: Stanley Paul and Co. 177

[2] ‘Tonight and Every Night was…the Hollywood version of our own slogan ‘We Never Closed’.’ Van Damm (1955: 175)