Gilda (1946) Rita Hayworth
This film is one of the greats of the 20th Century. It’s a terrific romantic drama/film noir with Rita Hayworth in her career-defining role as the beautiful Gilda who turns the head of every male in the movie as well as disrupting the lives of ex flame, small time operator Johnny (Glenn Ford) and his new boss, Big-time crook Ballin Mundsen (George McReady). The three play out a classic love-triangle, which was familiar with the late 40’s era of film making.
So what makes Gilda different?
The film is set in post-war Buenos Aires in Mundsens unofficial gambling den. The plot definitely has shades of “Casablanca” about it and whilst Glenn Ford can’t match Bogart for screen charisma or George McCready’s smooth air of flamboyance, Rita Hayworth loses nothing in comparison to the great Ingrid Bergman. (Rita’s rendition of ‘Put the Blame on Mame’ is a must-see).
While downgrading Ford above in comparison to Bogart, that said he is utterly convincing as the small time nobody whose path crosses (luckily) with big-shot Mundsen to his immediate benefit, until the arrival of Gilda, that is…. He acts with total conviction and his scenes with Hayworth portray real chemistry, totally convincing you of their previous relationship with each other.
Hayworth of course is an absolute knock-out, from one of the best character introductions in any film ever (just by shaking her hair and answering to her name!) she shows us all the conflicting emotions her delicate character is driven by, need for love, need for attention, need to show-off, need to manipulate… the list goes on. McReady is a good foil for both Ford and Hayworth. Which takes us back to Casablanca, often rated the best film ever in various public and critic’s polls, whose ending of course left us all guessing. For me though Gilda is right up there with it, a timeless noir-classic, beautifully shot and played, a mesmerising treat for the eyes and ears.