Monday, May 09, 2005

Gilda (1946)

NOTW: Gilda (1946) [restoration edit]

I chose Gilda as noir of the week because even though it's highly acclaimed it seems to me it's not regarded as the classic I think it is. Hopefully you've all seen it so I'll skip the plot summary.

Before watching this movie I regarded Rita Hayworth mainly as a comic actress. And sure enough, the first few times we see her in this movie she gives us quite a few lighthearted laughs. We soon learn however that Gilda is a troubled young woman, with a dark both past and present. And Rita pulls this off in a marvelous way. In a way I never thought she could actually.

One of the very best scenes in my opinion is when Gilda has performed on stage and starts stripping, asking men in the audience for help with her zipper. I like a good striptease as much as the next guy, but watching this scene makes me want to scream at her to stop. It's a relief when Glenn Ford comes and removes her from the stage, even though he is rough and slaps the poor woman. You do not want to see her disgrace herself like that.

The striptease most defininitely is a cry for help, but she is still strong enough to resist any help offered her. Not even marrying Johnny Farrell (Ford), who seems to be her true love, helps. Sure Ford, under the influence of George Macready's character Ballin, had become very business oriented and not very loving. But Gilda gets all the chances to turn her life around a woman could possibly get, and still she resists these opportunities.

Gilda is not your regular femme fatale who manipulates everyone to get what she wants. To me she is a woman who doesn't know what she wants, so instead she ends up rebelling against everyone and everything. Not as a search for her place in life, but as the only thing she can think of. This isn't an evil woman who makes you cold to the bone. Gilda is a tragic character that makes me truly sad.

The dialogue in this movie should be mentioned. It's truly outstanding. Sparks fly just about every time Gilda opens her mouth. The other characters do their best at countering her sparks, but Gilda is the center of attention in every scene she appears in. There is an aura of appealing yet frightening energy around her. I would go so far as to say that every other character in this movie is just there to give us some idea of what exactly is going on inside Gilda's head. And what a fascinating sight it is. This is a terrific movie everyone should watch.

Harald the Swede


  1. She IS the Femme Fatale

  2. Somehow I don't think it's that she doesn't know what she wants but that she is fighting against what she wants: Johnny. Just as he is fighting against wanting her.
    Especially after they are married and Gilda believes them truly reunited but then after the shocking reality hits her, she wants to hurt him as he has hurt her. But all the while they still really know they want each other, they just let the world and their own pride get in the way.

  3. Has no one noticed the intense homoerotic subtext? I think what Johnny and Ballen really want is each other, not Gilda.

  4. I'm really glad that this movie is being honored with the respect that it deserves. i'm writing a paper on this film and a lot of websites have a lot of bad things to say about its story line and that just isn't a fair judgement to me. I love Rita in this movie, probably because I identify with her in certain ways. To me, a main cause of her problems is the fact that Johnny doesn't want to give her any credit as an honorable human being- he doesnt't believe that she can be a faithful partner no matter how much she tries to tell him the truth of the situation- very reminiscent of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof if you ask me. So Gilda sets out to become what the person that matters most in her life already thinks of her. She is trying to get back at him. And just when she thinks Johnny has changed and takes her back, he hurts her again. As far as the homoerotic subtext- I don't really feel that Johnny wants Ballen, although I think Ballen my want Johnny. I think Johnny is just trying to take advantage of a self-benefiting situation.

  5. Rita, are you decent? Am I somebody's fool...seeing you in my dreams...talking to you in my sleep...thinking about sharks off the coast of Brazil. I need a B-17...we'll fly to Shanghai or sail down Mexico way. Forget the amusement park in San Francisco. It's no good. A place for fools.

    Hard-Boiled Dick

  6. Anonymous commented:

    "Has no one noticed the intense homoerotic subtext? I think what Johnny and Ballen really want is each other, not Gilda."

    Positively. I'm surprised that more peeople don't notice it.


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