Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In Memoriam: Gilda


Dir: Charles Vidor (Hans Christian Anderson; The Joker is Wild; Rhapsody)

Glenn Ford passed recently. One of those incredibly prolific character actors with lead talent, Ford was a favorite of mine from Blackboard Jungle. Gilda was cited often at the time of his death as another gem.

The mass media, in this case, was correct. Gilda is great, a very fun and darkly sexual noir that has quite enough banter and flirtation to thoroughly entertain. Ford is a down and out hustler who hooks on with an Argentinian casino owner. When the boss brings how a new wife, who happens to be the bitter ex-lover of Ford, the stage is set for some complicated machinations. The fact that Rita Hayworth plays the bombshell certainly does nothing to detract from the viewing experience. After all, she gave good face, and lots of other good stuff too.

The plot is the weak point of the film, involving some dumb scheme to corner the tungsten market and some ex-Nazis and other weirdness. It makes little sense. But the dialogue is full of good lines and euphemisms. The star of the show is the sexual tension between Hayworth, Ford, and George Macready. Those folks can act, and the dance between them is very fun. The dark turn that the movie takes about 2/3 through provides an interesting twist on what could have been a very trite plot, even if it does get silly at the end.

A movie like this is what American cinema does well. A high entertainment ratio, an accessible set of characters and a sense of mood that is quite satisfying. I really enjoyed Gilda, and am glad to have celebrated the life of Glenn Ford by viewing it.