Wednesday 1 September 2010

Gilda Revisited

I posted a while back about Gilda, starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford. It was a film I watched rather casually one evening, and I liked it without thinking it was a great masterpiece. But some rank it as a ‘landmark in world cinema’, and on that basis, BFI Classics have published a study of the film by Melvyn Stokes, which I found very interesting.

Stokes provides a short account of the film’s narrative, wisely paying little attention to the rather barmy story-line involving a ‘tungsten cartel’, and focusing on the triangular relationship between Gilda, gambler Johnny Farrell, and casino manager Ballin Mundsen. He debates a gay sub-text in the relationship between Johnny and Mundsen that more or less passed me by when I watched the film; in my defence, it was rather subtly portrayed, in order to get past the censors.

Stokes rightly praises the excellence of Hayworth’s performance, and there is discussion as to where this movie fits in the history of film noir, as well as feminist takes on the part that Gilda plays in the story. It’s interesting that this is one of those films whose reputation has improved over the years, and it’s safe to say that this is despite rather than because of the crime plot.

One can, of course, over-analyse films as well as books. But I like learning from the critical reflections of others; provided they are not pretentions, they can often prompt me to go back to a film or book, and get more out of them second time around. So it is with Gilda. Melvyn Stokes has persuaded me to watch it again, and I think I’ll get more out of it on a second viewing.


Anonymous said...

Martin - Sounds like a very thoughtful critique of the film. I'm glad for you that it gave you another perspective on the film.

Ed Gorman said...

I saw it a few times when I was younger. Rita Hayworth was the draw. I watched it again a few years ago and realized that the movie itself, including Hayworth, is a few cuts above average. So much sinister innuendo. Glamour has never seemed so shabby.

Deb said...

I think it's Rita's staggeringly sexy performance of "Put the Blame on Mame" that makes this movie a classic. And all she removes is...a glove!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Maybe it's my age, but the only thing I know about Gilda is Hayworth and the glove scene. Nice to know there's a real story there...maybe even a touch of noir! I'll have to check it out the next time it's on TV.