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GILDA
1946 - Charles Vidor
United States
68
Opening Shot

The camera pans up to a low angel of a pair of dice that were just rolled by a man. "To me a dollar was a dollar in any language. It was my first night in the Argentine and I didn't know much about the local citizens. But I knew about American sailors. I knew I better get out of there." He collects his money from the ground, gets up and walks out...

The Film

"Gilda, are you decent?" Though it comes almost 20 minutes into the film, Rita Hayworth's first appearance on screen remains the embodiment of both the film and her wonderful career. It's a moment that is quite simple, but deeply effective in portraying one of cinema's most memorable screen beauties. The flirtatious look, beautiful smile, and of course gorgeous hair display everything we need to know about Gilda the character and Hayworth the "Love Goddess." To me, Hayworth is undoubtedly among the most beautiful and talented actresses to ever live. There's never been and will never be another like her, and Gilda stands as one of her defining performances. It's easy to forget, but the this film does have more qualities aside from Hayworth's energy and presence. The black and white photography is lusciously shot by Hayworth's preferred cinematographer Rudolph Mate. Lighting and shadows are symbolically used throughout as a technique in paralleling good and evil (one of the underlying themes and tones of the film). Director Charles Vidor finely directs a strong script, which actually involves heavy sexual undertones (both heterosexual and bisexual). Obviously Production Code limitations prevented the film from going as far as it could have. However, Gilda remains an effective melodramatic film noir romance that examines an unusual love and hate connection. But the undeniable force of the film is that of Hayworth's glamorous and unforgettable performance. "Put the Blame on Mame!"

The Filmmaker

Born in Budapest, Hungary Charles Vidor became one of Columbia Pictures most prominent directors of the 1940s. Known for his glamorous studio films, Vidor's first known work (1929's experimental silent film The Bridge- available as part of the wonderful DVD box set 'Unseen Cinema') is in comparison quite a contrast. His early sound films were various genre films for RKO Pictures, and then starting in 1937 for Paramount Pictures. His most known work came when he joined Columbia Pictures in 1943's The Desperadoes. His relationship with Columbia boss Harry Cohn was not good. Of course Cohn was known as one of the most hated and cruel men in Hollywood, but his relationship with Vidor was particularly bad. Shortly after completing Gilda (starring Rita Hayworth and Glen Ford) in 1946, Vidor sued Cohn for his cruel treatment of him. He lost the suit and made one more film at Columbia (1948's The Loves of Carmen, also starring Hayworth and Ford) before buying out his contract. Along with Gilda, Vidor's most famous film at Columbia was the lush 1944 musical Cover Girl, which starred Hayworth and Gene Kelly (the film received 5 Oscar nominations, winning for Best Music). After leaving Columbia, Vidor returned to the musical genres with films like the Oscar nominated Hans Christian Andersen in 1952, Rhapsody in 1954, Love Me or Leave Me (nominated for 6 Oscars) in 1955, and The Joker Is Wild in 1957. Vidor also directed Grace Kelly in one of her last performances (1956's The Swan). Vidor died while working on 1960s Song Without End, which was completed by George Cukor.

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Resources
trailer (youtube)      
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