Monday, April 26, 2010

Have I never blogged about Gilda before?

Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford in a publicity still from Gilda

TCM is showing the classic noir Gilda tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM ET. Looking through the blog archives, it seems as though I've never posted on Gilda, which is a pretty big oversight.

Glenn Ford plays Johny Farrell, a gambler who has ended up in Buenos Aires and is down on his luck. ALthough he's just won some money in a dice game, using loaded dice means that the people he's gambling with are going to attack him -- if it's not for the serendipitous help of a man with a cane that conceals a bayonet. That man, Ballin Mundson (played by George Macready), runs the local underground casino, and figures that he can use a bright guy like Johnny to help manage the place. Things go well until Ballin brings home a trophy wife, Gilda (Rita Hayworth). Ballin might not have realized it at the time, but Gilda and Johnny had had quite a fling back in the States. Joe Breen never met a threesome he didn't like, so you know this relationship can't possibly end well.

Indeed, it doesn't. Ballin isn't just running that casino; he's in the black market for metals as well, and that criminal enterprise results in Ballin killing other criminals partly in self defense, while Johnny and Gilda are all the time having a torrid love/hate relationship. With some dead bodies, however, the police are closing in on Ballin, who gets out of the situation by faking his own death (we viewers realize it's fake, but it's done in a way that not even Johnny and Gilda know it). Ballin has bequeathed the business operation to Johnny, who proceeds to run it ruthlessly. Johnny also marries Gilda, but she's about as faithful to him as she was to Ballin. Eventually, Ballin returns from the dead....

Gilda is quite the movie. Glenn Ford was good at playing characters who were the good guy on the surface, but who had a dark or deeply conflicted streak under the surface; think The Big Heat. Johnny Farrell, despite being the hero here, is by no means a saint, and when Johnny needs to be nasty, Ford has no difficulty portraying it whatsoever. Macready is suitably good as the older man who looks distinguished, but is just as ruthless as Johnny. But it's Rita Hayworth who really makes the movie move. She's as gorgeous as ever, and in fact, this might just be Rita as her most gorgeous. (The competition for that, however, is pretty tough.) It's easy to see why anybody would fall for Gilda, and fall hard. These three excellent performances work to enhance what is a pretty darn good story already.

Seeing how strongly I can recommend Gilda, I find it a surprise that I haven't done so before now. And you don't even have to worry missing the morning showing on TCM. It goes without saying that a movie as important as Gilda has already been released to DVD.

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