Reviews and notes
Despite critical drubbing ('high-class trash', sniffed the Daily News
), in one of the biggest box office bonanzas of its year and now a bona fide film noir
classic - the high of 1940s screen eroticism. Down-and-outer Glenn Ford's 'You've no idea how faithful and obedient I can be' pledge to Buenos Aires nightclub magnate George Macready is threatened when the boss later produces a wife - Rita Hayworth. 'There never was a woman like Gilda!' shouted the ads, and there never was a star as electrifying as Hayworth, from her hair-tossing first close-up; to her teasing bumps and grinds, dressed in black satin gown, to the strains of Put the Blame on Mame
; to the screen-igniting sensuality of her scenes with an uncharacteristically fiery Ford. (Hayworth created such a sensation in the role that the first peacetime A-Bomb sported her likeness.) Gilda boasts some of the most feverish noir
dialogue of the decade and the screen's first multi-sexual menage a trois
- an element totally unnoticed by contemporary critics.
- Film Forum.
In Jennifer Fay and Justus Nieland;s Film Noir: Hard-Boiled Modernity and the Cultures of Globalization
, the authors make a case that the noir
sensibility often "articulate[s] forms of emotional attachment beyond one's country of origin" and that noir
, though spawned by the machinations of the Hollywood studio system, belongs to the "aesthetic cultures of early-twentieth-century modernity." Charles Vidor's Gilda
, with its Argentine setting and impulsive trio of friends-or-lovers, occupies the stated terrain by placing its titular bombshell between two men - both sexually frustrated, both concealing their impotence through deviant business practice - and having them not actually care too much about her beyond her commodity value as a trophy to shield their perpetually fractured egos.
Like Otto Preminger's Laura
, with its titular woman caught between not only two, but three men (and a woman!), Gilda
questions the honesty of each character's intentions by consistently revealing each person's interests to be wholly self-serving. Furthermore, the film problematizes the face value of its narrative by doubling down on one double entendre after another, which reach vertiginous status once Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) is told, while being held in embrace by ex-flame Gilda (Rita Hayworth), that he's out of practice - dancing, she means.
That Johnny flings Gilda to the side and jets away following the suggestion speaks to how Vidor understands the electric, sexual current Gilda wields with such a line, where the humiliation is so great, so felt within the viscera, that extrication from the scene of the trauma is Johnny's only possible response. In the moment, he's wholly psychologically defeated and made vulnerable to Gilda's varying duplicities, that he literally cannot bear to continue being anywhere in her vicinity. That inclination - to flee the space - undergirds the entire film, not merely as a recurrent plot point, but almost as a philosophy, where borders, both national and spatial, govern one's entire being. Johnny has plopped down in Buenos Aires to rig dice and card games, but he might as well have been spawned from thin air or - as we're introduced to him - birthed from the floorboards.
When he's saved by Ballin (George Macready) from a back-alley stick-up, Johnny hardly bothers to inquire how Ballin happened to find himself in such a place, given his fine dress and "little friend" - a cane concealing a switchblade. The encounter seems positively rigged, much like Johnny's games, but the irony fails to dawn on the two-bit hustler, who's more intrigued by Ballin's monetary offers than his own endangerment at the hands of an actual criminal, one with the infrastructure to do far more than hustle on the floorboards of local dives.
Johnny is "no past and all future", but it's Gilda who shakes his convictions, appearing out of the past (and from under the screen) as an unmovable divide between himself and Ballin, with whom he's far more in love. "Never mix women and gambling", Ballin says early on, and the line persists throughout the film less as a misogynistic invective than an announcement of gendered, social preference for both men, who ensconce themselves in all-male environments.
Gilda's musical number Put the Blame on Mame
also speaks to Johnny's anxieties that he could never have or handle that much woman, as he watches, anguished, from just off stage, but it's also a primary source of the film's simultaneous embrace and remove from Hayworth's screen presence; since the film invites viewer identification with Johnny, Gilda's beauty (and strapless dresses) comes to dominate every underlying motivation and action because of its pleasure-or-pain reminder.
The characters are certainly sadomasochistic ("Hate is a very exciting emotion", says Ballin), but the film suggests that audiences, too, must share in similar sources of conflicting desires given that no audience member can actually possess Gilda either. Much like Dana Andrews's detective in Laura
, who initially covets the titular woman through stories told and a painting, Johnny is forced into the role of impotent spectator. Gilda
is best appreciated as an intelligent back and forth on the fantasy of possessing another.
Perhaps the film's perspective on the battle of the sexes can be best summarized by Detective Maurice Obregon (Joseph Calleia), who introduces himself by commenting that "women can be extremely annoying". Much later, when offering advice to Johnny following an arrest, he ponders: "How dumb can a man be?" It's the contingency of these statements that fascinates, because the film rightly recognizes that every character is capable of numerous actions that would qualify as "annoying" or "dumb", but also that annoyance, on Gilda's part, lies in the eye of the beholder. In the world of Gilda, and the greater spectrum of noir, it's always about who's watching.
- Clayton Dillard, Slant, 20 January 2016.
by UCLA Film & TV Archive and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The release uses as a foundation the UCLA Film and Television Archive 2K restoration of Gilda
, which was produced in cooperation with Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Library of Congress, and The National Film and Television Archive U.K.
This high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit DataCine film scanner from a 35mm fine-grain master made from the original camera negative. The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm soundtrack negative. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube's integrated workstation, and iZotope RX4.
The entire film has a very pleasing organic appearance. Generally speaking, close-ups boast very good depth; even during the darker footage depth never suffers. Clarity and sharpness are also pleasing. There are a few areas where it is easy to see that time has left its mark and as a result some minor density fluctuations exist, but they do not create any balance issues. Typically, only the grain exposure varies a bit. There are no traces of problematic sharpening adjustments. Overall image stability is very good. Finally, a few tiny flecks and blemishes and even a couple of small vertical lines can be seen, but there aren't any large damage marks, cuts, stains, or torn frames.
- adapted in the main from Dr. Svet Atanasov, Bluray.com, 21 December 2015.
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