“You do hate me, don’t you, Johnny?”
A petty gambler (Glenn Ford) managing a casino in Buenos Aires is dismayed to discover that his boss (George Macready) has married his hedonistic former flame, Gilda (Rita Hayworth).
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary’s not a big fan of this classic wartime flick, starring pin-up girl Rita Hayworth in what is undoubtedly her most iconic role. While he acknowledges that “gorgeous Rita sizzles, wearing an assortment of sexy outfits and singing ‘Put the Blame on Mame’,” he complains that the film as a whole is “overlong, silly, and confusing”. Watching it again recently, however, I found myself surprisingly absorbed in its tale of a vitriolic “love-hate” relationship between a couple so clearly meant for one another (if only they could get over whatever it is that keeps them clawing at one another’s throats). The aspects of the script focusing on Macready’s shady wartime dealings as the head of an international tungsten cartel (!) are a tad incomprehensible and meandering (Joseph Calleia’s detective lurks around the perimeter of the set without much to do), but are ultimately inconsequential, and fortunately don’t distract much at all from the central conflict: the tension-filled menage a trois between Macready, Ford, and Hayworth.
I disagree as well with Peary’s assessment of Macready as “good and sinister” but “not strong enough for such a pivotal role” — it’s exactly his creepy but understated presence that gives his relationship with Ford’s Johnny such an unusual edge (why exactly did he “pick up” Johnny to begin with, off the streets of Bueno Aires?). I agree with Peary, however, that Ford “gives an uninteresting performance as an unlikable heel-hero” — actually, his performance here is not so much “uninteresting” as it is unconvincing (though the fault is less with Ford than with the studio heads for miscasting him in the first place). He simply doesn’t have the requisite allure or good looks to be credible as a man that a goddess — er, woman — like Gilda would get herself so hung up over. On that note, the script teasingly neglects to fill us in on the little detail of what exactly tore Gilda and Johnny apart to begin with. Quibbles aside, however, there’s enough to the film — including director Charles Vidor’s more-than-serviceable direction, Rudolph Mate’s noir-inflected cinematography, Rita’s inimitable presence, and lots of zingy dialogue — to make it a must-see classic at least once for all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Rita Hayworth as Gilda
- Gilda’s justifiably famous and sexy dance routines
- Rudolph Mate’s cinematography
- Plenty of racy, memorable dialogue — most by Gilda:
“Me? Sure, I’m decent…”
“I can never get a zipper to close. Maybe that stands for something, what do you think?”
“There’s something about Latin men: for one thing, they can dance… For another — “
Yes, as an iconic classic.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)