I posted a while back about Gilda, starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford. It was a film I watched rather casually one evening, and I liked it without thinking it was a great masterpiece. But some rank it as a ‘landmark in world cinema’, and on that basis, BFI Classics have published a study of the film by Melvyn Stokes, which I found very interesting.
Stokes provides a short account of the film’s narrative, wisely paying little attention to the rather barmy story-line involving a ‘tungsten cartel’, and focusing on the triangular relationship between Gilda, gambler Johnny Farrell, and casino manager Ballin Mundsen. He debates a gay sub-text in the relationship between Johnny and Mundsen that more or less passed me by when I watched the film; in my defence, it was rather subtly portrayed, in order to get past the censors.
Stokes rightly praises the excellence of Hayworth’s performance, and there is discussion as to where this movie fits in the history of film noir, as well as feminist takes on the part that Gilda plays in the story. It’s interesting that this is one of those films whose reputation has improved over the years, and it’s safe to say that this is despite rather than because of the crime plot.
One can, of course, over-analyse films as well as books. But I like learning from the critical reflections of others; provided they are not pretentions, they can often prompt me to go back to a film or book, and get more out of them second time around. So it is with Gilda. Melvyn Stokes has persuaded me to watch it again, and I think I’ll get more out of it on a second viewing.