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The 40s and 50s produced many alluring performances from beautiful and sexy
actresses and Rita Hayworth's in Gilda is one of the most provocative of
all. The film is good and quite deep, the male leads are better, but
Hayworth's performance is simply stunning and unforgettable. She may not
have been the most beautiful 40s actress (Gene Tierney and Veronica Lake
were more classic beauties imo), but if you look closely her ability to show
the sweet, the vulnerable, and especially the wanton, in women has not been
bettered. Somehow her character gets under the male viewer's skin in the
same way as it does to the male characters in the film.
Modern film femme fatales are a pale shadow by comparison, for example Linda Fiorentino or Sharon Stone. I'm not sure why. It could be either that nowadays allure is too much equated with sex or nudity (less tantalising than several dashes of suggestion) or maybe it's that present day equivalents are portrayed as hard as nails without the necessary mix of sadness and vulnerability.
Whatever, if you've never appreciated what the appeal of 40s noir is, this is definitely one to try.
And to think there used to be movies without graphic sex scenes that still
got the point across, and how. The sexual tension between Ford and Hayworth
in this movie is enough to make you run for the cold showers.
Hayworth is gorgeous and so is Ford. They are so good together and in this movie they are positively great. When great screen lovers are mentioned, I've often wondered why Ford and Hayworth aren't among them.
This is one of my absolute favorites.
You could not have come up with a better title for this seductive thriller.
GILDA is what this film is all about and Rita Hayworth is so engrossing and
beautiful, you sometimes forget what is going on and just stare. "Put the
Blame on Mame" is one of film history's more memorable singing sequences and
we get to see it twice. Look out for the famous "hair-toss" scene the
prisoners in SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION cheer at. There is a film to talk about
here but the alluring Ms. Hayworth is always on the tip of your tongue.
Glenn Ford is the anti-hero of this excellent Noir portrait of double-crosses, jealousy, and forbidden love. He has many flaws, not the least being his infatuation of Gilda. Director Charles Vidor looked as though he was trying to capture a CASABLANCA-esque feel with the casino in Buenos Aires and people of all walks of life toiling within. There are even some familiar head nods at a roulette table. This is no CASABLANCA, but the end of WWII is somewhere in the backdrop and the stoic "Ballin Mundson", played by George Macready (PATHS OF GLORY), seems to have some foreign matters happening on the side, like "Victor Lazlo". The crisp black and white cinematography is effective, especially in the casino where 2/3 of the film takes place.
GILDA is all Hayworth and, whether you are a male or female viewer, you see a good performance. She is great to look at, but her dramatic scenes are equally great to see. GILDA is an all-time classic that ranks with MALTESE FALCON and DOUBLE INDEMNITY. Throughout the picture, the blame is put on Rita for most of the plot's turning points. There may just be someone as sweet as her flowing red hair inside waiting to come out. Glenn Fords' Johnny Farrel (perfect name for Noir character) cannot look past her deceiving flirtation and realize that the bad guy is right in front of him. Another triumphant film of the 1940's that works every time, GILDA is Rita Hayworth's claim to fame and sent her into the stratosphere as a star. She was more than just a pin-up.
RATING: 9 of 10
Johnny is a small time, but talented, hustler who finds himself at the wrong end of a gun on the dark back streets of Buenos Aires. He is rescued by a mysterious and controlling stranger, Ballin Mundson, who ends up being the owner of a club/casino that operates under the radar of the law. Johnny and Ballin form a close partnership with Johnny being the "man who runs the joint" and Ballin the Master. When Ballin takes a short leave and comes back married to the gorgeous Gilda, a threesome develops that puts a strain on the partnership. There is a burning mutual dislike between Johnny and Gilda. When Gilda feigns ignorance over not remembering his name, she coyly replies, "Johnny. So hard to remember . . . and so easy to forget." Of course there's much more to their acquaintance than they are willing to acknowledge, and a fusion of sexual heat, jealousy, fear and hatred keep the tension tightly wound which fuels the film. And of course there is Rita Hayworth up front and center. All the accolades that have been showered on her sexy "striptease" interpretation of "Put the Blame on Mame" are true! And still this film has much more to offer; an economical but effective story line; a tight witty script loaded with innuendo; and superb acting all around, especially the overlooked icy performance of George Macready as Ballin Mundson.
This is one of my all time favourite films, much watched with all its
faults. Even the best things can't be faultless but any faults can be
more easily overlooked.
There is no golden age film I've seen quite like Gilda, full of strange people with highly-charged emotions saying and doing odd thought-provoking things in semi-comical ways - if you include violence and swearing you could say that's 90% of modern movies though! The subject of hate = love has been explored better since Gilda, but with me the first cut is always the deepest - I first saw this when I was a more impressionable youngster. What we have is a scintillating four way love/hate relationship between Ballin, Johnny, Ballin & Johnny's little friend with no name, & Gilda that ultimately becomes the "usual" tawdry tangle, resolved by their nightclub's toilet-attendant. Huh? When you're in the middle of this fantasy world you can swallow all of this and more.
Probably the second best B picture ever made it only starts to feel like one during the last 30 minutes down to the metaphorical walking into the sunset ending. There's so many good bits: The inventive and relentlessly snappy dialogue between the main characters throughout the film; Johnny quoting statistically that there are more insects in the world than women; Johnny waking up at 5am to the sound of Gilda singing to Pio the toilet-attendant; Pio's reaction after the midget industrialist killed himself in the toilets; Ballin describing his little friend's attributes to Johnny who claims he's just as good; Ballin asking Gilda if she was decent when she was; Johnny telling Ballin categorically that he taught Gilda ALL she knew; Gilda's little striptease - what creeps there were in that club - and fancy stopping her!
Not quite as good as, but a worthy bookend for Casablanca, THE best B picture ever made.
Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth made five films together, but when they
are talked of as a screen team, it's only Gilda that people are really
talking about. Their first film was before World War II, The Lady in
Question where both are young Columbia contract players who were in the
same film and no effort was made to bill them as a team. The Loves of
Carmen which was made after Gilda was a disaster for Glenn Ford, though
Rita was at her sexiest. Affair in Trinidad was a good effort to
recapture the magic of Gilda after Rita's storm marriage to Aly Khan
and the last film The Money Trap was a Glenn Ford film where Rita has a
brief role as an old girl friend. She was the best thing in that film
Do you remember in Cabaret how both the Liza Minnelli and Michael York characters find out they are sex partners to the same German bi-sexual man? That's essentially what happens in Gilda though with the Code firmly in place it's not something we talk about. George MacReady, a man of many interests rescues Glenn Ford from the docks of Buenos Aires after he's won some money from sailors in a crap game. They hit it off and Ford becomes his right hand man in running the casino MacReady operates.
Then MacReady brings home a wife and lo and behold it turns out to be an old girl friend of Ford's, Rita Hayworth. Add to that some Nazi refugees have some business with MacReady over some tungsten mines.
The real emphasis in this film is sex and personified by the best embodiment of sex ever on the silver screen. This film raked in a lot of dollars for Harry Cohn and Columbia Pictures. Hayworth, voice dubbed as usual, had a big number here in Put the Blame on Mame. It became a signature tune for her the rest of her life.
One thing did disappoint me about Gilda. For a story that took place in Buenos Aires who many say is the most beautiful city in the world, it would have been nice to see some location shots, even if it was just some newsreels to establish the time and place. The film might as well have been in Albuquerque.
But when you've got Rita to look at, it could be at the South Pole.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Charles Vidor's "Gilda" opens to a noir world of gambling, shifting
uncertainties with a crooked crapshooter whose self-made luck is about
to change at the close of World War II.
Leaving with his winnings, Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) is rescued by a nasty scar- faced casino owner Ballin Mundson (George Macready) with a dagger-cane
The handsome gambler offers himself up as a croupier-manager to run Ballin's illegal joint Promising to be faithful, Johnny is immediately accepted
Unfortunately this included Ballin's dazzling new bride Gilda (Rita Hayworth), who happens to be Farrell's ex- girlfriend Thus begins one of the most tortuous and hard to follow of noir's many twists and turns
Rita captured everything about Gilda's character She is extremely beautiful, malicious, provocative, greedy, vengeful, and awfully superstitious And she makes it sound!
There is a heat that one could feel in Gilda and Johnny and its intensity is pretty high The movie shifts into a tremendous struggle between temptation and loyalty, challenge and envy, suspicion and mistrust, passion and desire This noirish thriller reunited a two legendary stars in a magical moment that reflected strongly a forbidden love
Rita Hayworth positively sizzles as Gilda in this film-noir classic.
From her initial hair-tossing scene to her near striptease while she
sings "Put the Blame on Mame," Hayworth is captivating and more than
convincing as the object of every man's desires. However, beyond the
overtly heterosexual lures of Ms. Hayworth lurks a complex and
ambiguous romantic triangle that provides more intrigue than the
surface plot, which involves a gambling casino that is a front for
shady operations that originated in a recently defeated, Fascist
Hayworth may either be the intruding wedge that comes between Glenn Ford and George Macready or the object of both men's romantic interests. From the initial meeting between Ford as two-bit gambler Johnny Farrell and Macready as Ballin Mundson the casino owner, an ambiguous, possibly homo-erotic, attraction is established between the two men. The lingering looks that they exchange can be read in several ways, but Bogie never looked into Cagney's eyes like Ford looks into Macready's. After Ford begins to work for Macready, his devoted care and slavish attention to his boss's needs exceed the bounds of employee and employer. When Hayworth moves into Macready's home as his new wife, Ford returns the key to the house as though he were a jilted lover. Ford's increasing jealousy becomes apparent after Hayworth's arrival on the scene, but it is unclear of whom he is jealous, Hayworth or Macready or possibly both. Perhaps Ford's character is as unsure of his own feelings as is the viewer, which makes the ambiguity even more intriguing. Macready's jealousy also grows as the heat between Ford and Hayworth intensifies, but, again, it is ambiguous of whom he is jealous.
With a dazzling performance by Hayworth, excellent black-and-white photography by Rudoph Mate, fine direction by Charles Vidor, and layers of psychological possibilities to ponder, "Gilda" is as golden as its title suggests.
This film is a great example of a very good film whose style and sense
of sex appeal actually surpasses the plot. Now this isn't to say that
the film has a bad plot--no, it's good enough. It's just that the
wonderfully Noir-like dialog and Rita Hayworth's incredible sex appeal
are what you are left with when the film is over--not the plot! Despite
being a Rita Hayworth starring vehicle, she actually doesn't take up
the lion's share of the screen. In fact, she doesn't even make an
appearance until about 20 minutes into the film! This task of anchoring
the film is given to a young and very effective Glenn Ford--who does a
fine job as a street-wise but smart young punk wanting to make it to
"the big leagues" and stop hustling for small change. When Ford meets
up with George Macready, it's an incredibly memorable Noir moment. The
crackling dialog between them and Ford's not even bothering to thank
Macready for saving his life is so stylish and made the Film Noir lover
within me happy! Later, in another great scene, Ford has just been
worked over by a bouncer from a high class casino when he finds out
this is Macready's business! Instead of being angry, both strike up a
working arrangement--and Ford dispatches the bouncer is a brutal
manner! Only later, after Ford has been Macready's right-hand man for
some time does Hayworth enter the film. The reaction to her arrival
indicates that there is SOME unfinished business between the two--but
now Rita is Macready's new wife! Now this brings me to one problem
about the film. It isn't an insurmountable problem, but supposedly Rita
and Glenn had been lovers some time before and their meeting now was by
pure chance. However, considering that they were in love in New York
and the film takes place in Argentina, you are left wondering "what are
the odds?". Despite this, you aren't left wondering for long because of
the sparkling dialog and chemistry between Rita and Glenn. In other
words, because of all the steamy moments on the screen, you tend to
forget the occasional inconsistency of the plot. And, speaking of
steam, there is a lot. Despite apparently being pregnant during the
shoot, Miss Hayworth managed to create the sexiest portrayal on film
from the era...period. Her languid singing, her amazing dresses that
looked like they were glued on and the dialog between her and Ford all
created an amazing atmosphere that just can't be equaled. Sure, the
plot was fine, but the mood--that's what makes this an exceptional
By the way, it is rather fascinating to see that in many ways this film mirrored the real-life antics of Rita--especially in regard to how she had a devil of a time picking men! Both Gilda and Rita both seemed to have a lot of sex destructiveness within them.
George Macready is playing the role that most people remember him for -
Balin Munson, nightclub millionaire in Argentina, and a man with pure
ice in his veins. He has two friends...Johnny (Glenn Ford), who Balin
rescues from some toughs, and a slick, sharp little chum hidden in his
walking stick - ever ready to cut up people that Balin doesn't like. He
also has bigger plans. Men like Balin are not satisfied with successful
nightclub/gambling casinos (however successfully they are run). During
the Second World War several German and axis industrialists found Balin
a comfortable man to do business with. It seems they were not sure if
Der Fuhrer would win after all, so they transferred various papers
concerning their international holdings in tungsten manufacturing to
Balin for him to watch. Big mistake, for Balin realizes that the
documents actually put these interests into his fully capable hands.
And since he has managed to bribe a local tungsten manufacturer to sell
out his plant in Argentina, if Balin can leave without police
interference he can put together a cartel that will control the
manufacture of such things as light bulb filaments. Sounds
preposterous, but that is Balin's goal. He only has two problems:
Johnny and Balin's beautiful wife Gilda (Rita Hayworth) apparently know
each other and can't stand each other - but he has to leave them in
charge of his nightclub while he's away. The other problem is Detective
Maurice Obregon (Joseph Calleia) of the Argentine Police Department.
Obregon suspects Balin's involvement in this illegal cartel scheme, and
is watching him like a hawk.
"Gilda" is the film that made Rita Hayworth a star, and (with "Paths of Glory") gave Macready his justifiable claims to being one of Hollywood's best villains. Ironically many people don't think of Macready as anything but a villain in movies. It is true that in films like "Lady Without a Passport" and "The Big Clock" he was a villain, but he also could play decent people. He tries to help Spencer Tracy escape recapture and execution in "The Seventh Cross", and he is the wise minister and reformer who helps thwart Ray Milland (a.k.a. the Devil) in "Alias Nick Beal". But his Balin is pure, malevolent ice. There has been some suggestion that Balin's relationship with Johnny is actually a homosexual one (the business with the knife in the cane possibly being a metaphor for a male sex organ). Perhaps, but it is a weird friendship of two cynics who (briefly) enjoy each other's cynicism.
Curiously enough the business of the tungsten cartel is rarely discussed in going over the film. Like "Notorious" which came out about the same time, "Gilda" reminded American audiences of the large numbers of Nazis and collaborators who fled to South America in this period. In "Notorious" it was Brazil, and the gang (led by Alex Sebastian - Claude Rains) was fooling around with uranium. Here the idea of such people controlling a useful metal's manufacturing was not probed as much, probably because Balin was set to double cross them. But it is worrying to think of them coming so close to it.
In a discussion of the Warner Baxter film, "Such Men Are Dangerous" I mentioned that (like that film) there is a hint here of the 1928 mysterious death of millionaire Alfred Loewenstein, who managed to fall out of his private airplane over the English Channel. Here, to evade both the Nazis and Calleia, Balin arranges his plane to explode over the ocean (although the audience and Calleia see a figure parachute before it does so). Not quite the same problem as the Loewenstein mystery, but one can see the seed of the idea was there.
I would say this was certainly one of the better film noirs. It even was somewhat thought provoking.
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