Gilda – The Criterion Collection #795 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
January 17, 2016 by Dennis Amith
“Gilda” should be watched, not only because of Rita Hayworth but watched as a well-done noir film that manages to have a great balance of acting and cinematography. And is no doubt a shining gem of Hollywood film noir. Recommended!
Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Gilda – The Criterion Collection #795
YEAR OF FILM: 1946
DURATION: 110 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, black and white/color-tinted, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Stereo, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Janus Films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION
RELEASE DATE: January 19, 2016
Directed by Charles Vidor
Story by E.A. Ellington
Adaptation by Jo Eisinger
Screenplay by Marion Parsonnet
Produced by Virginia Van Upp
Cinematography by Rudolph Mate
Edited by Charles Nelson
Art Direction by Stephen Gooson, Van Nest Polglase
Set Decoration by Robert Priestley
Rita Hayworth as Gilda Mundson Farrell
Glenn Ford as Johnny Farrell/Narrator
George Macready as Ballin Mundson
Joseph Calleia as Dt. Maurice Obregon
Steven Geray as Uncle Pio
Jow Sawyer as Casey
Gerald Mohr as Capt. Delgado
Mark Roberts as Gabe Evans
“Gilda, are you decent?” Rita Hayworth tosses her hair back and slyly responds, “Me?” in one of the great star entrances in movie history. Gilda, directed by Charles Vidor, features a sultry Hayworth in her most iconic role, as the much-lusted-after wife of a criminal kingpin (George Macready), as well as the former flame of his bitter henchman (Glenn Ford), and she drives them both mad with desire and jealousy. An ever-shifting battle of the sexes set on a Buenos Aires casino’s glittering floor and in its shadowy back rooms, Gilda is among the most sensual of all Hollywood noirs.
Rita Hayworth, one of the most popular actress in America, a sex symbol who would win audiences with her performance in the 1946 film “Gilda” and would have a career that featured 61 films shot in 37 years.
Known in her earlier years as Rita Cansino, the half Spanish and half actress was born in a family full of entertainers. Her father was a flamenco dancer, her mother was an original Zeigfeld girl, her parents were a source for her to pursue acting and dancing. Father and daughter would become the “The Dancing Cansinos” and she would eventually catch the eye of the head of the Fox Film Corporation, Winfield Sheehan and Rita was signed to a short-term contract.
Because of her Spanish look, studios were not reluctant to hire her, so Rita would go through several procedures to change herself and when she returned to screen test for Columbia Pictures, the actress who now had red hair and would change her name to Rita Hayworth (her mother’s maiden name) would make her brand new return in 1939 and eventually would get a small but yet important part in the Cary Grant film “Only Angels Have Wings”. And eventually, her career would blossom from then on.
In fact, during World War II, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable would become the popular pin-up girls for military serviceman. She also had a “no nudity” policy which boosted her popularity during the 1940′s and by 1944, Hayworth was the big box office star in Hollywood.
And her 1946 film “Gilda” is considered as Rita Hayworth’s best film that she has starred in and regarded by cinema fans as one of the sexiest noir films ever created.
As the film was remastered and restored in 2013, the film will now debut in HD via Blu-ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection in January 2016.
“Gilda” would feature director Charles Vidor (who worked with Hayworth in “Cover Girl” and would feature a story by E.A. Ellington, a screenplay by Marion Parsonnet and adaptation by Jo Eisenger. The cinematography was done by the highly respected Rudolph Maté who worked with Carl Th. Dreyer films “The Passions of Joan of Arc” (1928) and “Vampyr” (1932), costume designer Jean Louis and choreographer “Jack Cole” and feature the vocals of Anita Ellis (note: Rita Hayworth’s singing vocals were always dubbed).
“Gilda” is a film narrated by gambler named Johnny Farrell (played by Glenn Ford). Johnny recounts the time he moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina and how he won a lot of money by cheating in craps. After collecting his winnings, Johnny is nearly robbed by a gunman until Ballin Mundson (played by George Macready) saves him. Ballin tells him that there is an illegal high-class casino in the area but he should never use his cheating skills there.
Johnny doesn’t listen and ignores his advice and cheats while playing Blackjack and wins again. But as quickly as he wins, he is caught by men working at the casino and is taken to meet their boss, who happens to be Ballin. Ballin tells Johnny that he warned him. Before anything can happen to him, Johnny tries to show his worth to Ballin by beating up one of his men and telling him that with his skills, he can protect the casino and eventually leads to Ballin hiring Johnny to be his right-hand man at the casino. And everyone appears to be impressed by Johnny, with the exception of Uncle Pio (played by Steven Geray), the washroom attendant who is not afraid to call Johnny a “peasant”.
As business is going well and Johnny is well-liked by his boss, when Ballin returns from a business trip, he surprises Johnny by telling him that he has married a woman named Gilda (played by Rita Hayworth). A woman who was Johnny’s girlfriend from the past and is surprised that she is back in his life, albeit being the wife of his boss. And to make things even more difficult is that Johnny must watch over her and complicating matters even further, Gilda knows how to press Johnny’s buttons by flirting with men.
For Ballin, he can sense that Gilda despises Johnny but also that Johnny despises her. Unaware the two knew each other long ago, he is puzzled why the two have hostilities towards each other.
Meanwhile, two German men have paid a visit to Ballin and want their money. The men and Ballin have worked together on a project financing a tungsten cartel and to avoid being detected by authorities, everything is under Ballin’s name. and now both men want ownership of the project which Ballin is unwilling to concede.
As Argentinian government agent Obregon (played by Joseph Calleia) is investigating the matter and thinks that Johnny may know if there is a connection between Ballin and the German men, during a party, one of the German’s end up dead (actually killed by Ballin).
As Johnny goes to find Ballin and tell him about the death of the man, he encounters Gilda and the two get into a heated argument of why they hate each other so much. But while doing so, the two end up kissing each other and hear a knock. Both realize that Ballin must have seen them kiss.
From that day forward, the lives of Johnny and Gilda will never be the same.
“Gilda” is presented in 1:33:1 black and white and in 1080p High Definition. Although over 65-years-old, the film is a sexy noir film that looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray!
The film was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in cooperation with Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Library of Contress and The National Film and Television Archive (U.K.).
According to the Criterion Collection, “The new high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit DataCine film scanner from a 35 mm fine-grain master made from the original camera negative”.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the lossless audio, “Gilda” is presented in LPCM 1.0 monaural.
According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35 mm soundtrack negative. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 4.
“Gilda – The Criterion Collection #795” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Richard Schickel. Richard Schickel is a film critic for Time Magazine, writer and documentary filmmaker. His commentary is very informative.
- Martin Scorcese and Baz Luhrmann on “Gilda” – (16:05) Director Martin Scorsese talks about the allure of Rita Hayworth and growing up watching “Gilda” while filmmaker Baz Luhrmann talks about how wonderful the scenes are and how he tried to capture parts of “Gilda” in his film “Moulin Rouge”.
- “Hollywood and the Stars: The Odyssey of Rita Hayworth'” – (25:11) A 1964 episode of “Hollywood and the Stars” about Rita Hayworth and her career.
- Eddie Muller – (22:14) Featuring an interview with film noir historian Eddie Muller.
- Original Theatrical Trailer – (2:11) The original theatrical trailer for “Gilda”.
“Gilda – The Criterion Collection #795” comes with a poster of Rita Hayworth on one side and the essay “The Long Shadow of Gilda” by Sheila O’Malley.
I don’t anyone who has disliked “Gilda”, for the most part, everyone I have talked to, have all discussed how Rita Hayworth literally captured our attention from her first appearance in the film when she lifts her head and you see the popular hair toss scene. Hayworth radiates onscreen.
And while she gives a strong performance throughout the film, it’s those certain scenes, for example, when she performs her famous nightclub song with her dark blue gown that literally grabs your attention, demands your attention and literally, you are seduced by her beauty and sexuality. “Gilda” was a film that further builds upon Hayworth’s WWII pinup status and shows us that she’s more than just a woman who can dance, but she’s also an actress that can give one hell of an emotional performance.
Hayworth not only succeeds in playing the female fatale, there is just this confidence that you see onscreen and Hayworth ultimately shines. Confidence, vulnerability, sexiness, depressed..
Glenn Ford is the anti-hero Johnny Farrel and similar to when James Cagney shoves a grapefruit on his wife’s face, when Johnny slaps Gilda, you know this is a man that is knows nothing but harsh realities. He is a man that is not to be trusted but nor is Gilda. Brash, confident, consumed by his love for Gilda to the point that he despises her.
These two characters have much more in common with each other, flawed individuals who despise each other but at the same time, have this intense chemistry that yearns for each other.
In most cases, the screenplay could have fared worse if another actress or actor was cast. “Gilda” was a film in which I am unable to picture anyone else (if the film was shot a decade later, then possibly Marilyn Monroe) but it’s a film that succeeds because of Hayworth but also the wonderful direction of Charles Vidor, the beautiful cinematography by Rudolph Mate, along with costume and set design. There is no doubt even 64-years later that “Gilda” is one of the sexiest noir films out there that easily stands out amongst the many noir films ever created not just in the U.S. but one of the finest films created during that time around the world. And in 2010, this film still is captivating now as it was then.
As for this new Blu-ray release, not only do you get a newly restored version of the film and yes, Hayworth’s musical performance of “Put the Blame on Mame” looks and sounds wonderful in HD. It’s one of the more recognized scenes in the film and it’s great to finally watch it in HD!
“Gilda” doesn’t suffer the DNR that the original first DVD release had received. In fact, the Blu-ray release features sharper and more detailed picture quality as grays and whites are well-contrast and black levels are nice and deep. The monaural soundtrack doesn’t have any issues as dialogue is clear and no sound of warping, hiss or crackle.
As for special features, included is an audio commentary by Richard Schickel and a featurette by Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann. Compared to the 2013 Sony Pictures DVD release, the Criterion Collection Blu-ray features two more special features such as the 1964 episode of the TV show “Hollywood and the Stars” and an interview with film noir historian Eddie Muller.
Overall, “Gilda” is the film that turned me on to Rita Hayworth and like many other viewers throughout the decades, have just fallen in love with Rita Hayworth and her magnificent performance in the film. “Gilda” doesn’t have a magnificent storyline but what it does feature are complexities between two individuals who probably came from the wrong side of town and someway they found each other before. And of course, it’s that buil-up of sexual tension is what captures us from beginning to end.
“Gilda” should be watched, not only because of Rita Hayworth but watched as a well-done noir film that manages to have a great balance of acting and cinematography. And is no doubt a shining gem of Hollywood film noir.
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