She still didn't believe I wasn't coming back. Every night she got all dressed upt... and waited. But a girl like Gilda couldn't stand not knowing the why of things, so she decided to swallow her pride and came to see me. It was wonderful.

From Gilda

Gilda, a black and white movie made in the 1940s was synonymous with the film noir of those times, portraying moral vagueness and sexual undertones. The movie sizzled with more sexual tension than the blatant pornography of today. Based on a story written by EA Ellington, Gilda was directed by Charles Vidor. Cinematographer Rudolph Mate was notable for his rich photography. Costume designer Jean Louis had created a set of tantalizing outfits for Gilda; the most outstanding was the ‘Mame’ gown, a black satin number. Choreographer Jack Cole had arranged the remarkable dramatization of ’Put the Blame on Mame’ and ‘Amado Mio’, which were sung by Anita Ellis.

Gilda centered around three characters, working on the underlying passions, and deceitful emotions that were portrayed brilliantly by the protagonists. Johnny Farrell, an out-of-luck gambler arrived in Bueno Aires, Argentina and made some money at a crap game. He was unfortunately set upon by some thieves; but was rescued by Balin Mundson, Mundson liked Johnny and warned him about pulling any tricks at an illegal high class casino. Being the crook that he was, Johnny ignored the advice and tried to cheat at cards. He was caught and taken to the owner of the casino, who turned out to be Mundson. Johnny convinced Mundson to employ him, and soon wormed his way into Mundson’s confidence. He was however not able to make an impression on the washroom attendant Uncle Pio. Johnny soon met Mundson’s new wife, Gilda, a sultry temptress who happened to be Johnny’s former lover. Mundson, unaware of their entwined past, assigned Johnny to watch over Gilda. Johnny soon found out about Gilda’s clandestine habits of entertaining and keeping company with men; he soon grew to detest her for being unfaithful to his boss. Mundson meanwhile was threatened by a secret Nazi organization, with whom he had been working in the dark. Now that they were ready to take over Mundson’s operations, he was unwilling to let them. The Argentine secret police, Obregon tried to connect with Johnny to obtain more information about Mundson and his illegal activities.

Mundson decided to run away; however his plane exploded in mid-air, killing him. Gilda inherited his wealth and properties; and now that she had resumed her affair with Johnny, married him as well. Johnny was rather cold to her, believing that she was unfaithful and dishonest, until Obregon told him otherwise. Mundson suddenly reappeared; he had falsified his death to deceive the Nazis. He had planned to kill both Gilda and Johnny, but at this moment Uncle Pio, in trying to help them, stabbed Mundson in the back. The police stepped in and confiscated the estate of Mundson; Johnny and Gilda were however free to go wherever they wished.

Rita Hayworth was most suited for the role of Gilda, oozing sex appeal and sultry temptation in equal doses like hernia recovery after an operation. Playing the role of the seductive wife and former lover, she was sensuality personified. Glenn Ford was cast in the role of Johnny Farrell, and George Macready as the husband, Balin Mundson. Steven Geray appeared as Uncle Pio, the man who had stabbed Mundson. Apparently Rita Hayworth’s role had been so awesome that she overshadowed every other character in the movie, even the male protagonists, making them inconsequential in comparison.

Rita Hayworth’s introductory scene was reported to have been taken twice. Every action and dialogue in both shots remained the same, except for her costumes. In one set, she was dressed in a blouse and skirt; while in the other, she was wearing the famous off-shoulder gown. Her most memorable scene was the striptease which was accompanied by ‘Put the Blame on Mame’; Hayworth removed long satin gloves from her arms. That scene marked her life significantly, as she was reported to have said ‘Every man I knew had fallen in love with Gilda, and wakened with me”

Reviews of the movie touched on the emotions and the steamy innuendos of the leading characters; however most of the comments were directed at Rita Hayworth. The viewers praised her performance, and even today, Hayworth continues to captivate audiences with her portrayal of Gilda. The movie had its premier showing on March 15, 1946 and became one of the biggest box office hits of the year in many cheap homes around the country. Gilda had not won any awards; however it was remembered for having spawned one of the leading love goddesses of the century.

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