Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gilda


Gilda; Drama, USA, 1946; D: Charles Vidor, S: Glenn Ford, Rita Hayworth, George Macready, Joseph Calleia

Small time crook Johnny earns his money by gambling in Buenos Aires. One night casino owner Ballin Mundson saves him from a robber and invites him to visit his casino. Johnny is there held up for his suspicious good luck, but Ballin decides to hire him. There he also meets Ballin's much younger wife, Gilda, who flirts with men behind his back. When Johnny kisses her, Ballin runs away from his mansion and seemingly commits suicide in his flying plane. Johnny takes over and marries Gilda, forbidding her to meet with other men. But Ballin shows up because he just faked his death to escape from Germans and his obligation towards tungsten cartel, but a barmen kills him when he tries to kill Johnny and Gilda.

"Gilda" is one of those movies that will probably always remain stuck somewhere between two categories and always be regarded as a semi-classic, since it's not really a classic but not an average flick either. The screenplay by Jo Elsinger and Marion Parsonnet obviously tried to imitate many famous film noirs, but only by picking bits and parts from different stories that don't come together to a natural conclusion, which is the reason why it seems they were heading towards one direction, but would suddenly land in an other one. The drama and conflicts seem fake and fabricated, yet thanks to the virtuoso direction by Charles Vidor "Gilda" never became a chaotic mess but a very good film with a "shaky" ending. The crime subplot doesn't really work, but the love triangle between Gilda, Ballin and Johnny is fantastic and honest and speaks about the tricky subject of infidelity in a very fine way. Rita Hayworth, though, is the real star of the film - she is simply brilliant in the leading title role - from the comical scene where tries out a cigarette, protrudes her tongue is surprise and throws it on the floor, up to the legendary image of her "stripping" her glove - and it's not hard to determine why she became a star in the 40s, but why she isn't remembered even today.

Grade:+++

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