Rita Hayworth was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood’s golden era, and it you only have to watch one movie to know why: Gilda. Has there ever been a more perfect femme fatale in the history of cinema? If so, I haven’t encountered her yet and the only one that really comes to mind is Loiuse Brooks in Pandora’s Box twenty years earlier.
In the noir era? I’d say that Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman, though often playing dangerous women, were redeemed by the fact that they were dangerous because of the situation they were in, or their upbringing. None of their parts comes close to the gleeful courtship of an early death through her own actions of title character of this film.
The film itself? Well, it was OK… my wife enjoyed the first half and found the second half boring while my reaction was exactly the opposite, with the film getting better as it advanced. But I have a feeling that I’ll be hard-pressed to remember much about it in a year or two other than as the film with Hayworth in it playing a very dangerous woman.
To be honest, I would probably also recall the fact that the action takes place in Argentina. It wasn’t filmed in Buenos Aires and didn’t show any landmarks I could identify, but it felt like the action could, conceivably, have taken place here. So that was a fun bit of trivia.
Anyway, without giving away any spoilers, this one is something lovers of noir will like, as will people with an unhealthy fascination for women who can really, really wreck your life. As a noir, I guess it’s middle-of-the-road as opposed to brilliant, with a few interesting elements such as the casino (shades of what was concurrently happening to Bugsy Siegel permeate the film and make one wonder). And compared to other Hays Code films, this one is much sexier in nature.
But in the end, it’s all about that Hayworth woman.
We always do a few fun facts about the different films here, and this one’s is about the woman who dubbed the singing on the earworm signature tune Put the Blame on Mame. Turns out that Singer Anita Ellis is still alive (albeit suffering from Alzheimers) – hope she is lucid enough to receive this shout-out and know we love what she did with that song!
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist and short story writer. His novel Outside was published in 2017.