Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946)
Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) is an American gambler who just arrived in Argentina to have a new life. After a succesful dice game a mysterious man, named Ballin Mundson (George Macready) saves his life and Johnny says that it is his rebirth. They quickly became partners in Ballin’s gambling house and they share a friendship that may flirt towards a couple. After a trip that Ballin takes he comes back with a beautiful and sexy wife called Gilda (Rita Hayworth). It is more than clear that at the first gaze of each other, Gilda and Johnny, they are sharing a troubled past together. But they keep it quiet to hide it from Ballin and not loose his trust towards both of them.
With this role, Hayworth will become the ultimate model of the femme fatale that makes all those other film noirs gals pale comparisons. Her introduction to Johnny and the viewer is preceded by her new husband asking if she is decent. Obvioulsy, he is already in her room and we discover one of the few women that burned the screen almost as much as Marylin Monroe could have done it. We Hayworth is on the screen in Gilda it is almost impossible to get your eyes anywhere else. The way that Rudolph Maté shot the entire film is outstanding and he had the good sense of not getting too much effect but just enough to have a crisp signature and a clean contrast. WHen he shots Hayworth it’s like she shines brighter than any other element in the frame.
The musical numbers choreographed by Jack Cole are classy and Hayworth once again demonstrates her charm by stripping only one glove and I must say that it is sexier than the entire, oft-maligned and not as a disaster as many stated, film Showgirls by Paul Verhoeven.
Just to add up on Hayworth’s credit, it is interesting to discover how her life was closely linked to her character of Gilda. A woman that has been used and mistreated by her father, and lovers. It is one of the things that makes a viewing of Gilda even more fascinating, how Hayworth looks genuine and how her casting seems to be perfect. It is.
The director, Charles Vidor, is not a name you will find amongst the greatest directors of his time. But to have one near-masterpiece and have your name linked with Gilda for the eternity is already more than many directors could have dreamed of. It is one of the most celebrated Film noirs and it really stands out in the genre.
Finally, it is more than obvious that I enjoyed Gilda very much and that it will stand as one of my favorite films of the 1940’s a decade already rich in great movies. It is the genuine feeling of it all and how it plays on known grounds but it is so well executed and how it reprensents a treat for film lovers.