The Greatness of Gilda (1946)

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

Image: Public Domain

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

Image: Pinterest

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.

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uncle pio

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.

the glamour

Image: Pinterest

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.

Image: Pinterest

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.

carnival

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.

rita hayworth

Image: Imdb

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.

Image: Pinterest

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!

Fashion Inspiration: Kim Novak in Bell, Book, and Candle (1958)

As part of my Halloween viewing for this year, I saw Bell, Book, and Candle for the first time. This film has been on my radar as the cast includes the remarkable duo of Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak (and was released in the same year as Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo, also featuring the two leads).

In Bell, Novak plays Gil, a witch who uses her powers to do her bidding and to catch Jimmy Stewart for her own. The film starts off with a scene on Christmas Day and makes for some cozy, cold weather viewing. The fashion reflects this as Gil is ensconced in gorgeous capes, cloaks, and gloves.

While the Academy award nominated costumes were designed by Jean Louis, whose most famous creations included Rita Hayworth’s gown in Gilda, Marlene Dietrich’s elaborate stage wear, and Marilyn Monroe’s barely there “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress, all of Gil’s clothing in the film look extremely comfortable to wear and have a cool, relaxed vibe while still being elegant, refined, and stylish.

As I was completely charmed by this movie and fell in love with Kim’s character and her amazing wardrobe, I thought it might be fun to gather some inspiration from Gil’s looks that can easily be incorporated into your own winter wardrobe and holiday looks for this year. Enough talk…on with the visuals!

black and red ensemble

When we are introduced to Gil, she is wistfully contemplating her life in her shop while the snow descends steadily on the streets of New York City. She is wearing a black sweater with black cigarette pants and a red tunic – a festive and cozy outfit for Christmas Day.

leopard print cape

Images: https://alisonkerr.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/bell-book-candle-leopard-print-cape.jpg (left); https://theclassicmoviemuse.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/91c2e-kimnovakleopardcoat.jpg (right)

I cannot get enough of Gil’s leopard print cape. Seriously, how gorgeous is that?! Luckily for us, leopard is all over the fashion scene. Not into capes (or can’t find one)? Pull out a coat instead, or just keep it in the accessories. I love these casual reinterpretations of Gil’s look, totally appropriate for a fun day time outing.

Images: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/4e/74/12/4e741296fb5f7df861cf8ec1000838bd.jpg (left); https://the-sister-studio.com/2018/11/leopard-shoes-sweaters-under-50/ (right)

Here’s a look for the office that can transition easily to date night with Gil’s signature style written all over it.

black and leopard outfit

Image: https://alisonkerr.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/bell-book-candle-black-snood-outfit-with-glimpses-of-leopard-lining.jpg

Image: https://alisonkerr.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/bell-book-candle-black-snood-skirt-suit.jpg

Gil’s leopard cape is reversible as we can see in this scene where she wears an all black ensemble with only hints of the print peeking through. This is a somber scene in the film, accented perfectly by Gil’s ensemble. Her outfit is sophisticated but subdued.

Image: Pinterest

Keep the rest of this outfit simple and let the leopard do the talking. Pair black basics with a variety of textures for visual interest and top it off with some fun accessories. Neutrals never looked so chic.

burgundy velvet dress

Images: https://professorpski.tumblr.com/post/182580123945/what-the-modern-witch-wears (left); https://serenitywomble.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/reddress1.png (right)

https://time.com/3821160/life-magazine-animal-covers/

Gil wears a burgundy velvet backless dress with jeweled bangles on the sleeve for her night out at the Zodiac Club. It’s when she invites Shep (Stewart) to her apartment that the magic begins. Velvet (or velour) is the go-to for holiday wear from tops, to pants, to dresses, and is not hard to find around this time of year. If you pick a dress, go for a high neckline and a lower back, and don’t forget the bangles to recreate Gil’s look.

Images: Pinterest

I hope you enjoyed looking at some of the pieces in Gil’s wardrobe with me. I only picked a few out of the offerings on display. You’ll have to watch the film to see the rest!

Italian poster for the film: Imdb

Bell, Book, and Candle is great fun. In addition to an excellent cast and a memorable score, there is another added bonus. If you’re like me and struggle to find a semi-festive flick to watch between Halloween and Christmas, (or you love Halloween so much you don’t want to let it go yet) let me tell you, your search is over. Bell, Book, and Candle is the perfect “in between” movie! So get your cozy sweaters out, grab your furry friend, and prepare to be enchanted by this wintry, magical tale.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!