When Gilda is brought back to Argentina by Tom, she slaps Johnny hard across both sides of his face. In reality, Rita Hayworth's smacks broke two of Glenn Ford's teeth. He held his place until the take was finished.
There is a rumour that this film is the only time you hear Rita Hayworth's real singing voice but it is sadly not true. According to the bonus features from the DVD, Rita actually never recorded her own singing voice and was a talented lip-syncher. Anita Ellis dubbed almost all of her singing in Gilda (1946). Rita always wanted to do her own singing, and Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn paid for her voice lessons, but she never developed a voice he considered strong enough to be used, and Rita remained bitter about that for the rest of her life.
According to the commentary provided on TCM following the showing of Gilda, Anita Ellis did voice the big production song "Put the Blame on Mame"; however, Rita Hayworth was indeed singing that song in the scene where she is strumming the guitar at the bar.
In the V-E Day scene, the crowd in the Casino is singing the 'Marcha de San Lorenzo' (San Lorenzo's March), instead of the Argentine national anthem (which would have been the logical theme to sing at that occasion). This piece of music honors a famous battle in Argentine history, and is usually played only in the festivities related to Argentine hero José de San Martín.
Humphrey Bogart declined the role of Johnny Farrell in what was to become a classic film noir and huge box-office hit. He reasoned that, with gorgeous Rita Hayworth playing Gilda, audiences wouldn't look at anyone else.
Rita Hayworth's introductory scene was shot twice. While the action of her popping her head into the frame and the subsequent dialogue remains the same, she is dressed in different costumes - in a striped blouse and dark skirt in one film print, and the more famous off-the-shoulder dressing gown in the other.
The two songs Rita Hayworth sings, "Put the Blame on Mame" and "Amado Mio," were written by Doris Fisher and Allan Roberts. The songwriting team also composed the entire song score for Hayworth's next film, Down to Earth (1947), as well as "Please Don't Kiss Me," the sole number she performed in The Lady from Shanghai (1947).
The film was such an enormous financial success for Columbia Pictures that Rita Hayworth's agent, Johnny Hyde, demanded that studio chief Harry Cohn give his client a share of profits for subsequent pictures. Cohn refused, but when Hayworth called in "sick" for several days during production of her next film, Down to Earth (1947), Cohn relented. Hayworth formed the Beckworth Corporation to collect twenty-five percent of the net profits from the remaining films on her Columbia contract.
Initial thought was given to shooting the film in Technicolor, but as too many of the specialized cameras were already tied up with other projects, Harry Cohn easily accepted the black-and-white option and hired cinematographer Rudi Matt to shoot the picture. Mat was the Director of Photography on such earlier color Hayworth films as Cover Girl (1944) and Tonight and Every Night (1945).
While the film was in release, an atomic bomb tested at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean's Marshall Islands bore image of Rita Hayworth, a reference to her bombshell status. The fourth atomic bomb ever to be detonated was decorated with a photograph of Hayworth cut from the June 1946 issue of Esquire magazine. Above it was stenciled the device's nickname, "Gilda", in two-inch black letters. Although the gesture was meant as a compliment, Hayworth was deeply offended.
The script was not yet finished when filming began. According to choreographer Jack Cole, "The script pages would arrive practically the morning that we were going to shoot, they were making the picture up as we went along. If you really look, you can tell that was the way the picture was done because it doesn't really make any sense if you try to follow the story."
In the years since the film's release, many have noticed the strong indication in the final lines and situations of a homosexual undercurrent existing between Johnny and Ballin. Upon hearing of the interpretation, Charles Vidor reportedly said, "Really? I never had any idea those boys were supposed to be like that!" Glenn Ford has also acknowledged the gay subtext, "But it never occurred to us at the time we were filming."
Harry Cohn was worried about bad publicity affecting Rita Hayworth's box-office pull; her marriage to Orson Welles was a constant worry for him. Hayworth and Welles were, in fact, in the middle of one of their separations during the shooting, and the gossip magazines were full of stories of an affair between her and Glenn Ford. When the two weren't filming, the mogul would barrage the duo with angry phone calls and demand that Hayworth go home. Cohn went so far as to spy on his actors - he had recording devices set up in their dressing rooms. He got no useful information, though; as Ford later said, "Of course, we knew our dressing rooms were bugged. The sound department tipped us off." (Welles knew of the hidden mics when he returned to Columbia to make The Lady from Shanghai (1947) with his estranged wife. He said that he and Rita would perform impromptu skits and radio shows in their dressing room for the benefit of their "listeners").
Opening credits: The characters and incidents portrayed and the names used herein are fictitious, and any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely accidental and unintentional.