Gilda (1946) and my greatest love affair


I created The Old Hollywood Garden because I wanted to express my love for the classics. I wanted to make people want to watch them, and I wanted to share my undying fascination with Hollywood’s Golden Age with the world. I’ve shared stories with you guys, more recently about how I underestimated Detour (1945) the first time I watched it and how a second viewing of it completely changed my mind about it, but one thing I never wrote about is how I became a classic movie buff. More precisely, what my very first classic movie was. Well, it was Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946). All the way back in 2007 when I was fifteen years old. I was flipping through the channels, and I stumbled upon it on an retrospective type of channel which shows old films and TV shows. Its black and white cinematography caught my attention straight-away and I put the remote down and watched it. I had no doubt in my mind this would be the start of something great for me and I couldn’t wait for it. I was barely half way through it and I already knew that I wanted to consume as many of these wonderful movies as possible. I was mesmerized by Rita Hayworth – who isn’t? – and I loved the love-hate relationship between Gilda and Johnny (Glenn Ford). It was hot. It was exciting. It was a masterclass in screen chemistry. Years later, I still think it’s the sexiest movie ever made. I was drawn in by them mostly, but right from the start, I thought Gilda was so fascinating. Johnny’s voice-over narration in the beginning (‘To me, a dollar was a dollar in any language…’) was everything I’d imagined these things to be. Great lines, no non-sense attitude; straight-up cool. The plot was interesting enough – small-time gambler Johnny is hired by Ballin Mundson (George Macready) to work in his casino, not knowing Ballin’s wife is his ex-lover Gilda – and the performances were fantastic. Especially Rita Hayworth’s. Her most iconic role was also her greatest. A flawed character, multi-layered and yet mysterious. Confident and yet vulnerable. A sort of anti-heroine that no doubt paved the way for many female characters that followed it. It is still one of my favorite performances of all time and the reason I couldn’t take my eyes off Gilda the first time I saw it. A ‘femme fatale’, I later read. I was transfixed by this. Film noir was intriguing. Years later, of course, I realized that Gilda isn’t quite a film noir (noir melodrama?) and Gilda isn’t really a femme fatale. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Looking back, Gilda was ahead of her time, in many ways. But back then, I just knew that this was endlessly fascinating. I had to watch more of these. So many more. I had to watch more stuff with Rita Hayworth in it. And Glenn Ford. I had to watch all of these films noirs. And the screwballs and the Pre-Codes. And the musicals! I had to watch all the Golden Age of Hollywood had to offer. Needless to say, I’ve been doing just that for twelve years and it has been absolutely blissful.

15 thoughts on “Gilda (1946) and my greatest love affair

  1. I too was, and continue to be, fascinated by the old time movies. I consumed so many, one after another, that many of them are a blur. Gilda was one of those films. I most definitely have to watch it again sometime soon. So many good movies, so little time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. caracoleta07

    I’m so glad you watched that movie, otherwise we might not have met ahah
    For me it was Cary Grant and Penny Serenade that brought me to the world of Hollywood Classics

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent Carol! You really give justice to this film. It’s interesting how you talk about Gilda not being a traditionnal femme fatale. A few years ago I wrote an essay for university on the various representation of women in films noirs and there was one called the “new femme fatale” and I think Gilda would have fit this category (although my case study was Claire Trevor in Born to Kill).
    I like the fact that we discovered classic films at the same age!

    Liked by 2 people

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