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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Gilda (1946)

"I was true to one man once... and look what happened!"
- Gilda (Rita Hayworth)

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: January 14, 2002

Stars: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford
Other Stars: George Macready, Joseph Calleia
Director: Charles Vidor

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for adult themes
Run Time: 01h:50m:03s
Release Date: November 07, 2000
UPC: 043396289994
Genre: film noir

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Just how sexy was Rita Hayworth? Sexy enough for Orson Welles to make an obsessive movie about her. (The Lady from Shanghai, for those of you keeping score at home.) Sexy enough to single-handedly establish Columbia as a first-tier studio. Sexy enough to be in the title of a Stephen King novella, and to be the object of desire in the movie based on that novella—it's Rita Hayworth's poster on Tim Robbins's cell wall in The Shawshank Redemption. (The original King story was called Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.)

And Gilda is the very apex of Rita-mania. The plot is pretty standard film noir stuff: Glenn Ford plays Johnny Farrell, gambler, drifter, traveling in "the Argentine" during the final days of World War II. He meets up with and goes to work for Ballin Mundson (George Macready), who owns a posh casino in Buenos Aires, despite gambling being illegal. Farrell soon gains his confidence, and Ballin goes out of town on a business trip. But he was up to more than business: he returns with a sexy new wife, Gilda.

Surprise: Johnny and Gilda have a torrid history, one that ended badly. As you might imagine, complications ensue—I won't describe too much more of the plot so as not to spoil it, and because in large measure the plot isn't the point here. (The studio's own supplemental material on the disc describes the plot as "melodramatic and almost impossible to follow.") It's a movie lush in atmospherics and mood, and it succeeds enormously well. And it is, among other things, surely the finest film ever made about tungsten.

Ford does most of the heavy lifting in terms of the story, and he's got just the right panache for it—he's not as debonair as, say, William Holden, but he's a good match for Hayworth. And Macready is wonderful, in a stagy sort of way—he's got this pronounced scar on his cheek and a clipped, nasal manner of speaking, he seems terribly self-conscious, but it works well here, the millionaire rightly worried that his underling is going to make off with his much younger and terribly bored wife. (Macready will be familiar to Kubrick fans: he's the evil colonel who pushes around Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory.)

Hayworth's appeal is very much of her time—she's got a couple of musical numbers, and her dancing is more than a little awkward; her wardrobe makes her appear unnecessarily hippy. But the allure is still powerful down through the decades, usually in quieter moments, for instance when she's singing her signature tune, Put the Blame on Mame, to a nightclub empty but for a philosopher/washroom attendant, Uncle Pio.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The UCLA Preservation Archive did a restoration of Gilda, and much of it looks luminous. The original trailer on the DVD is probably a pretty fair bet as to what most of the picture looked like before the restorers got their hands on it, and it's full of scratches, pock marks and abuse. (Rita Hayworth's celebrated black dress, for instance, in which she performs Put the Blame on Mame, is indistinguishable from the shadows and the darkness.) Still, though, the film bears the marks of decades of careless treatment: a few frames seem to be missing, as on occasion the picture is a little jumpy; and while much of the cinematography is crisp, having great fun with the shadows, good bits of it are too muddy for my taste, the blacks and whites bleeding into one another.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, French, Spanish, Portugueseyes

Audio Transfer Review: The mono audio track is creditable but unremarkable. The opening corporate logo for Sony will nearly blow out your speakers, and it's the loudest thing on the disc; after that, the dynamics are pretty consistent. Dialogue tracks are generally pretty clean, and Hayworth's musical numbers are lush without being overpowering.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Loves of Carmen, A Man For All Seasons, The Last Hurrah
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Vintage advertising eight lobby cards and posters
Extras Review: It's a peculiar trio of trailers that accompany the one for Gilda: First and most promisingly is The Love of Carmen, which also stars Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford, and was, like Gilda, directed by Charles Vidor. The trailer unappetizingly proclaims it to be "The Most Violent Romance in 100 Years!", and the movie looks pretty ghastly—based on a novel by Merrimée more familiar to us via Bizet's opera, it seems to be a trite telling of Carmen without the music. (Gee, there's a sales pitch—it's opera without music!) Then there's a trailer for A Man for All Seasons, which was made twenty years after Gilda, features none of the same participants, and is vastly different in tone. The only similarity I can see is that it's also part of the Columbia Classics series. Bringing up the rear is a preview for The Last Hurrah, directed by John Ford and starring Spencer Tracy, which wildly overpromises "the most unforgettable character in screen history."

Equally peculiar is the "exclusive featurette" billed on the DVD case as Rita Hayworth: The Columbia Lady (08m:48s). It has neither opening nor closing credits, and looks very much as if it's been lopped out of a longer documentary, perhaps one on the history of Columbia Pictures. It's little more than scenes from Rita Hayworth movies strung together with serviceable narration, and includes tidbits such as the fact that Hayworth didn't do any of her own singing. (That's Anita Ellis to whom she's lip synching in Gilda.) There's not much to it, but it's fun to see her with Cary Grant, and Gene Kelly, and Fred Astaire. She's much more graceful dancing with Astaire than she is on her own—but then, who wouldn't be?

Filmographies and brief bios are here for: Charles Vidor, Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford and George Macready.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Gilda is the apex of a certain style of filmmaking—if you're a noir fan, this is a movie and a disc that you won't want to miss.


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