Gilda appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1; due to those dimensions, the image has NOT been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although the picture displayed a mix of flaws, it remained quite watchable.
Sharpness appeared fine throughout the movie. At most, mild softness interfered on a couple of occasions, but these examples were rare and the film generally looked reasonably crisp and detailed. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no significant concerns, and edge haloes were minor. Black levels seemed fairly deep and rich, and contrast looked good most of the time; I saw a couple of excessively bright shots, but those weren’t a real issue. At times, some low-light scenes appeared a little muddy and thick, but for the most part I thought shadow detail was satisfactory.
Given the movie’s age, you might expect source flaws to be the biggest distraction, and you’d be right. Throughout the flick, I noticed a mix of specks, blotches, streaks and marks. These weren’t overwhelming, though; they could distract, but I didn’t think they were heavy. The various concerns were enough to knock this down to a “B-“, but I still thought the flick looked pretty good.
The film boasted a relatively strong monaural soundtrack as well. Dialogue always appeared crisp and distinct, with no concerns related to intelligibility. Actually, the speech sounded surprisingly clear for a film of this vintage; the lines were fairly natural and lacked much of the coldness generally found in recordings from this era.
Music and effects displayed similar characteristics. The track lacked any real dynamic range and seemed flat in that way, but the different components came across as clean and accurate for the most part, without any noticeable distortion. I would have rated the audio a little higher except the mix betrayed some light background noise during much of the film. Nonetheless, it earned a positive "B-" for sound.
How did the picture and audio of this 2010 release compare to those of the original DVD from 2000? Both were pretty similar, though the visuals demonstrated a modest upgrade. While both transfers had a mix of source flaws, they appeared to be heavier on the old disc. In addition, that one got worse as it progressed, while I thought this one improved as the movie went. Though not a great transfer, I felt the 2010 image was superior to its predecessor.
The 2010 release adds some extras not found on the 2000 DVD. We start with an audio commentary from film critic Richard Schickel. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, story/character topics, themes and interpretation, and a few connected subjects.
Maybe Schickel's recorded a good commentary at some point in his career, but if so, I can't recall it. Instead, I remember a bunch of tracks like this one: dull, tedious explorations of... not much. Dead air abounds, and even when Schickel speaks, he doesn’t tell us much of interest. Other than some decent thematic thoughts and a few notes about Hayworth’s career, this is a dud. I think you can skip it and not risk missing much.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a new featurette. Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann on Gilda runs 16 minutes, four seconds and includes comments from those two filmmakers. They discuss aspects of the film and Rita Hayworth’s career. Of the two, Luhrmman proves to be the more engaging. He offers an insightful chat about hair and costume topics and also provides a better account of the film’s impact. Scorsese throws in some good notes as well, but Luhrmann does the heavy lifting and makes this a useful piece.
Does the 2010 DVD lose anything from the earlier release? Yup. It drops a mediocre featurette called “Rita Hayworth: The Columbia Lady” as well as some “Vintage Advertising” and a few trailers for other films. None of these omissions are major, but I’d still prefer that they’d been carried over to the new DVD.
Rita Hayworth was one of the all-time great bombshells, and she showed why she attained this status via her vivid and exciting performance in 1946's Gilda. The movie offers a lackluster plot but benefits from crisp pacing and solid acting; those elements make the movie worth watching. The DVD provides flawed but generally positive picture and audio along with supplements marred by a dull audio commentary. I like this film and think it looks/sounds reasonably good, but I wish it’d come with stronger bonus features.
Note that as of December 2010, this version of Gilda can be found only as part of a five-movie “The Films of Rita Hayworth” package. It also includes Salome, Cover Girl, Tonight and Every Night and Miss Sadie Thompson.