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Charles Vidor
Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Joseph Calleia, Steven Geray, Joe Sawyer, Gerald Mohr
Writing Credits:
E.A. Ellington (story), Jo Eisinger (adaptation), Marion Parsonnet

There NEVER was a woman like Gilda!

Gilda (Rita Hayworth), the wife of a casino owner (George Macready) in Buenos Aires, is surprised to be introduced to her husband's new casino manager (Ford), a man from her past. Rita's legendary striptease to "Put the Blame on Mame" is an unforgettable moment in one of the greatest of all film noirs, and the peak of her career - not to mention a searing depiction of one of the most erotic and tortured relationships on film. Directed by Charles Vidor, the film co-stars Joseph Calleia, Stephen Geray and Gerald Mohr.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $59.95
Release Date: 12/21/2010

Available Only as Part of “The Films of Rita Hayworth” Collection

• Audio Commentary with Film Critic Richard Schickel
• “Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann on Gilda” Featurette
• Theatrical Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Gilda: The Films Of Rita Hayworth Collection (1946)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 30, 2010)

To coin a phrase: they don't make 'em like they used to! While this statement could apply to the film in question, 1946's Gilda, it actually refers to that movie's star, the lovely and vivacious Rita Hayworth. Va-va-voom! Hayworth was unquestionably one of film's sexiest presences, and she positively fires up the screen whenever she appears in Gilda.

Actually, even without Hayworth, Gilda still would have been a solid movie. The plot offers a standard "love triangle" saga. As the film starts, Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) meets Ballin Mundson (George Macready), the proprietor of an illegal casino. All is well for a while as the two become buddies, but when Ballin returns from a trip with new wife Gilda (Hayworth) on his arm, things go downhill rapidly. It seems that Johnny and Gilda have a past, and it's that prior relationship that causes problems.

The results are eminently predictable. In a lot of ways, Gilda comes across as a post-war remake of Casablanca, albeit one set in South America instead on in northern Africa. Although the mood seems similar and the two share a lot of components, Gilda has a different emphasis and never feels like a rip-off of its famous predecessor.

Ultimately, Gilda works because of some snappy writing and due to the performances of its stars. Writer Marion Parsonnet populates the film with some terrific quips. For example, at one point Gilda states that if she were a ranch, she'd be the "Bar Nothin'". I also adored the toast given to a problematic female former friend: "disaster to the wench!" is the cry given, and if I just have to find some way to work that into my life soon!

The film moves at a brisk pace but not excessively quickly, and the characters are allowed to develop naturally and evocatively. Through these roles, the actors shine. Hayworth shows why she became such an enormous star; in addition to her beauty, she possessed a strong spark and fierce streak of conviction that came through powerfully. She also was able to portray the character's range of emotions, and seemed just as believable when tearful and regretting as when she was bright and frisky.

When I think of Ford, I recall him as an older man; his role as Pa Kent in Superman is the main way I remember him. However, as evidenced here, he was a much tougher actor than I would have anticipated. Ford portrays Johnny with a great mix of street smarts and sex appeal, and he and Hayworth display terrific chemistry. One scene in which Ford handles a smarmy pretty boy showed just how nasty he could be, and I really enjoyed his performance.

Also of note is Steve Geray's performance as washroom attendant Uncle Pio. He consistently gives the film some excellent comic relief. The role could have seemed forced and excessively goofy, but Pio works into the movie neatly and becomes a vital character despite the comic nature of the part.

Overall, I found Gilda to be a thoroughly solid movie. The plot offered nothing revolutionary or particularly inventive, but the film featured crisp writing and excellent acting. All that and lots of sexy shots of Hayworth too - who could ask for more?

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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