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GILDA (1946, USA) – 8/10

Rita Hayworth is remembered for the roles of femme fatales, and perhaps her most famous role is in Charles Vidor’s famous film noir. Rita was born Margarita Carmen Cansino in New York in 1918 to a family of professional dancers, and made her film debut as a teenager. After a series of episodic roles in comedies, when she changed her name to Rita and took her mother’s surname, she began to open up. In the 1940s, Hayworth was one of the most popular Hollywood stars, and “Gilda” was conceived from the beginning as a springboard for her to move from musicals and comedies to more serious roles.

And she definitely succeeded because after “Gilda” Hayworth appeared in numerous noirs, the most famous example being “Lady from Shanghai” by her then-husband Orson Welles. This time the fatal Gilda will turn the heads of the two main male characters in Buenos Aires at the exact time when World War II is ending on other sides of the world. Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) is a small-time American cheater and gambler whose journey miraculously led him to the capital of Argentina. After he manages to win big money in a wild casino by fraud, he will be saved from certain death and attack by angry locals by a complete stranger and another American, Ballin Mundson (George Macready).

When it turns out that Mundson is the owner of an elite casino in Buenos Aires, Farrell will manage to persuade him to hire him as a manager, and very soon it will turn out to be Mundson’s hot wife, Farrell’s former love. Although both will pretend not to know each other, Gilda will constantly provoke her former lover, and with her behavior she will completely drive not only him, but also her rich husband crazy. Today, “Gilda” is considered one of the most sensual and erotic noirs ever filmed, and for that, clearly, all the credit goes to Hayworth, whose Gilda, no man can remain cold.

As in any true noir, there is also a criminal side to the story, because it will turn out that Mundson is also a sophisticated gangster, a mobster who is in cahoots with a German criminal organization, and she is involved in the smuggling of precious metals. It is interesting that “Gilda” had its premiere at the first edition of the festival in Cannes, and this film and Rita Hayworth’s performance inspired Stephen King to write the novel based on which Frank Darabont made a film that is still first on IMDB’s list of best films, “The Shawshank Redemption”.