(movie -- DVD)
I Feel a Song Coming On: The Life of Jimmy McHugh,
University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 2009
The title "Lovely to Look" and its lyrics were written for the movie version of Roberta (1935), not for the earlier Broadway show of the same title (1933) of which the film was an adaptation. Pandro Berman the film's producer knew that Kern had written a sixteen bar melody (instead of the typical 32 bars common to the song form) for the Broadway show that had not been used, and for which Otto Harbach, the show's lyricist, had never written words. Berman needed another song for the movie, one to accompany a fashion show, so he asked Dorothy Fields, who had written the lyrics for other songs unique to the movie, to provide a lyric to Kern's music. She complied but said:
Would you believe that Berman had the temerity to film the new number and then send the sixteen bar song to Mr. Kern? It took a lot of guts to put one over on a man as eminent and discriminating as Jerome Kern. I heard he was very severe and critical, [but] he was a dream. One day at lunch I asked him why "Lovely to Look At" had only sixteen bars, and Kern replied, "Because that was all I had to say" (Alan Shipton, I Feel a Song Coming On: The Life of Jimmy McHugh, pp. 134-135).
Shipton goes on to note that at the time Fields wrote this lyric both she and her long time writing partner Jimmy Mchugh were under "joint contract" to RKO, the studio that produced the movie, and so his name appears on "Lovely to Look At" along with hers as co-lyricist despite the fact that the lyric was written entirely by Fields.
Performed by Irene Dunne, "Lovely To Look At" in its debut in the 1935 movie Roberta. You will recognize Fred Astaire more or less conducting the orchestra and Randolf Scott eyeing Dunne while she's singing.
The remainder of this section is in preparation.