Director: Charles Vidor
Cast: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Joseph Calleia, Steven Geray, Joe Sawyer, Gerald Mohr
Regarded as one of the greatest-of-all-time screen romances and film noir, Gilda is a film that is surprisingly not so much about love, as it is about pride. Johnny (Ford) is a small-time crook who has had his life saved by Ballin Mundson (Macready), a large-time crook and illegal casino operator in Argentina. The two come together in an almost homo-erotic friendship, working together at the casino, until Ballin shows up with a wife one day-- Enter Gilda. Gilda (Hayworth) is a woman that seems to have some sort of complicated secret past with Johnny, and the two will spend the entire film battling between wanting and wanting to ruin one another.
Although Hayworth is gorgeous and saucy, and although this film is generally considered to be one of the greatest of its genre and era-- there are a lot of reasons that Gilda didn't hit a homerun with me. For one, the ongoing tension between Gilda and Johnny (which is supposed to be sexually-charged as well as fueled by hate) seemed erratic and disjointed. Granted, the two characters are understandably working through complex fiery emotions, but on the whole, their actions, arguments, and jabs at one another seem senseless, unlikely, and confusing. The back-and-forth between Gilda and Johnny, however, was not nearly as annoying as the man-love bizarre relationship between Ballin and Johnny. Even for a mob-related relationship, it was a bit too much man-love for what I could handle. Ballin as a villain was ruined by what I can only call... cheesy acting (perhaps highlighted by a cheesy over-exaggerated musical score).
I also felt the plot was clogged up with extraneous characters and details which just confused and burdened. All of the build-up about the business relationships/the safe--all for no pay-off.
I will say, however, that Hayworth's screen presence was one of the most powerful and commanding of all the 30s and 40s heroines I've seen thus far. Still doesn't mean I love the film. :(