Original release: February 14th, 1946
Running time: 110 minutes
Director: Charles Vidor
Writer: Marion Parsonnet
Cast: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Steven Geray
Rita Hayworth could work a room like no other actress of her time or after. Sure there’ve been other screen sirens, Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Veronica Lake, to name but a few, but she made being bad look not only good, but smoking hot when she starred as Gilda.
In this film noir classic, based on the story by E.A. Ellington , she’s the wife of wealthy casino owner Ballin Mundson (George Macready). Out of pure coincidence, Ballin hires gambler Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) to protect her, not knowing that two of them used to be lovers. Filled with contempt for her and out of his sworn loyalty to Ballin, Johnny refuses to reconcile with the temptress.
As Ballin’s other business deals are somewhat shady, this leads him into trouble with the Germans and the Argentine secret police. After killing one of his prospective business partners, Ballin boards a plane but it explodes mid-flight.
With Gilda inheriting his entire fortune, Johnny marries her not out of love, but to keep her gaurded. Caught in a loveless marriage, Gilda has no way out. They still can’t see eye to eye and while Johnny feels betrayed by her, he doesn’t want to betray his loyalty to Ballin either.
The past has a funny way of catching up though, even for those who declare they have none. Gilda and Johnny, despite their faithfulness to Ballin, will find that sleeping dogs don’t always lie so quietly.
Gilda contains a few of cinema’s most memorable moments, such as Rita Hayworth’s entrance in the movie and her show-stopping performance of “Put the Blame on Mame”, choreographed by Jack Cole and dubbed by Anita Ellis, where she removes a single glove but does it’s such eroticism that it secured her name as film noir’s ultimate femme fatale.
The film bears all of the hallmarks that you would expect in film noir; there’s the cinematography with its shots of darkened alleyways, hallways and dimly lit rooms where illicit things are happening.
We also have Johnny narrating the story and becoming entangled in a job which leads him to the femme fatale.
For these are so many other reasons, Gilda is just an all-out classic that’s multi-layered and filled with sexual innuendo, not least of all because of the phallic sword cane that Ballin uses to win over Johnny with or the way the story deals with the intrusion of a woman in the complicated relationship between two men.
While the Production Code restricted what could be explicitly told on screen, there was no limit on what could be implied and that’s one of the things that makes a movie like this a real gem to watch.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .