What is it about Gilda that makes people return for viewing after viewing? That question had been burning in my mind for a while. You see, a family member of mine would watch this film on repeat. Though at the time I was unable to join them, my intrigue still remained.
Today, I want to share with you what I love about Gilda and my observations while viewing the film in hopes of decoding the mystery from long ago.
the spicy dialogue and one-liners
Wow, is this film chock full of ’em! Ever been bored to death while watching a film and wishing the screenwriters were actually awake when doing their job? Yep, been there done that. Gilda keeps ya going all the way through with double entendres flying through the air. The script is full of spicy repartee, saucy comebacks, and biting sarcasm.
Some of my favorites:
- “Pardon me, but your husband is showing.”
- “Oh, I’m sorry, Johnny is such a hard name to remember, and so easy to forget.”
- “Well, here’s the laundry waiting to be picked up.”
the red hot sizzling chemistry between the leads
Get ready to clear the fog off the windows because this might just be the steamiest movie you’ve seen! Gilda (Rita Hayworth) and Johnny (Glenn Ford) have a love-hate relationship that absolutely smolders with tumultuous passion. It’s clearly painted across Johnny’s face how much he fights between his painful desire and seething hatred for Gilda, and she in turn tantalizes him every chance she can get. The more Johnny resists, the more Gilda’s fuel is fired.
You could cut the tension between them with a knife, but who wants to do that, it’s too much fun to watch.
Amongst the complex characters who are blinded by their own hate, anger, lust, and greed is Uncle Pio (Steven Geray) – the kind and goodly washroom attendant. He seems to be the only one who can see straight in the smoke ridden casino and offers the two leads what they need most. To Johnny he imparts words of wisdom and to Gilda he offers his friendship and understanding. Uncle Pio calls Gilda “the beautiful one” and “the little one.” Enough said, the guy is adorable and plays a pretty important part in the film’s ending.
Gilda is a beautiful film. Each scene positively reeks with glamour and the sets are decked out to the nines. I love the marble, grand staircase in Gilda’s home, the gates outside her home, and the swirling and leaf motifs in the casino. As for the costumes? They were designed by the amazing Jean Louis and fit the bill perfectly.
The cinematography by Rudolph Mate is both stunning and clever. He places characters almost entirely in silhouette, uses creative camera movements, and utilizes soft lighting to give the film its distinct look.
Who doesn’t love a costume party? With the setting for Gilda being in Argentina, we get the added treat of the characters celebrating Carnival. Like a siren’s call, the music from the streets beckon to Gilda to let go of her hate and embrace her feelings for Johnny. After all, the meaning behind Carnival is to sow your wild oats, and then to reap the consequences. This marks a turning point as Carnival casts its spell over Gilda, leading to one of the most exciting scenes in the film.
The heart and soul of Gilda is Rita Hayworth. Her femme fatale is beautiful, fiery, and spellbinding; yet she makes Gilda believable and relatable, not a woman on a pedestal to be worshipped and treated as a prize possession, but as a woman who needs love and care just as the rest of humanity. I’m reminded of Rita Hayworth’s quote:
“All I wanted was just what everybody else wants, you know, to be loved.”
In Gilda, I believe Rita laid out her raw emotions on the screen, making her performance moving, powerful, and unforgettable.
It is true that Gilda isn’t a perfect film, nor does it need to be. The film raises more questions than it answers, and perhaps that’s part of the allure.
Ripe with interesting and duplicitous characters, an exotic setting, and the production values that one expects when watching a film from the golden era, Gilda is an escape into a world where the dark shadows are always present, the fabulous femme fatale keeps you guessing, and the guy who falls for her is tied up with some rather shady characters while having demons of his own to conquer.
Sound like every other noir you’ve seen? Probably, but I assure you, none have done it quite like Gilda.
Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!