“Hate is a very strong emotion.”
Gilda is one of those classic films that gets a lot of hype. It has been endlessly referenced in other films and lives on as Rita Hayworth’s most memorable role. After watching Gilda I definitely see why the film is one of classic Hollywood’s most popular and why men even to this day dream of a woman with the looks and sexiness of the character.
The film is narrated by a guy named Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford). Johnny just won a lot of money by cheating in a game of dice. He almost gets killed by one of the men he beat but another man named Ballin Mundson saves him. Mundson tells Johnny that there is an illegal high-class casino but warns him not to cheat there. Johnny goes to the casino but he does not heed the man’s warning and gets taken away by two men to see their boss. Their boss happens to be Mundson. Johnny talks the man into giving him a job at the casino and as a personal body guard.
Johnny quickly gains his boss’s confidence following him around constantly and almost acting like the man’s slave. He will do anything for his boss. One day Mundson tells Johnny that he will be going away for a week to do business and that the casino will be left to him for the time. When Mundson comes back he surprises Johnny by showing him that he has gotten married and brought his wife home with him. The woman Mundson has married is named Gilda. There is recognition of the other on both their faces. Mundson senses their recognition and hostility towards each other but when asked they both deny they know each other. When they are left alone Johnny and Gilda confront each other and let it be known about their love-hate relationship that ended badly.
Mundson somehow knows about the two of them but he tells Johnny to keep an eye on his wife. Gilda is constantly looking for a good time so she sneaks out with other men. His fierce loyalty to Mundson and knowing how much he loves his wife makes Johnny furious with Gilda making him more abusive. But Gilda knows her romping is making her ex-lover angry so she does it even more and tells him that she hates him so much she is willing to destroy herself to take him down. Mundson keeps repeating that “hate is a very strong emotion” and eventually Johnny and Gilda’s hatred of each other leads to a very passionate embrace and kiss.
Mundson has gotten tied up with Germans and dealings in tungsten. He does not want to give up his shares. He shoots one of the German messengers and fakes his own death to get away leaving Johnny everything. As a punishment to both of them Johnny marries Gilda and practically imprisons her even when she gets away.
After things do go well with the casino and Jonny finds out that Gilda never did half the things he believes she did the two reconcile and apologize for their harsh treatment of each other.
I can definitely see why Gilda is such a popular and much talked about classic film. It has many of the great elements of a Noir with a beautiful femme fatale who men fall had over heels and do bad things out of love for her, illegal activity, and jealous lovers. I liked the film very much however I did not find it as exciting and thrilling as other Noirs I have seen. I found the plot to be a little boring making my attention wander a bit in some parts.
I truly believe much of the hype that carries this film comes from Rita Hayworth. She was beautiful and sexy. Her best scene was her introduction when Ballin takes Johnny into her room and asks if she is decent and she answers as she is flipping her hair over. Hayworth’s striptease as she drunkenly sings “Put the Blame on Mame” to embarrass Johnny is fabulous. The scene is sexy without Hayworth showing too much.
Glenn Ford was ok I have never seen him in a film before this. I could not see him as a tough, gambling man jealously in love with Gilda.
Charles Vidor did a great job with the direction. He got some great shots especially of Johnny and Gilda together. Vidor’s direction was greatly enhanced by Rudolph Mate’s excellent cinematography which set a great tone for the darkness of the relationships.
Gilda is in no doubt a classic Film Noir. Gilda is one of the ultimate femme fatales of the 1940s. Although I found the plot boring in some parts I did enjoy seeing a much talked about classic film. I do find it to be what I call “designer movies” meaning it is one that everyone likes and talks about but it is not that great (I call all of Audrey Hepburn’s films and her “designer”). I would not say that Gilda is a film I could watch over and over again but it is worth seeing at least once.