GF'S OF THE GREATEST GENERATION ERA--RITA HAYWORTH PT. 2
Some enterprising youtuber has posted the entire movie "Gilda" in ten or so parts. (And the producers think that the writers are crazy for suggesting that soon we'll all be watching tv and movies on the internet?) Below, I've posted a chunk--part eight, it is. Since the plot of "Gilda" makes little sense, you don't need to know anything in particular about what leads up to this section in order to understand it and, happily, there are no "spoilers" possible since the ending of the film doesn't follow logically from anything that proceeded it. This doesn't prevent the movie from being anything less than entertaining at any moment. Indeed, the below section contains three of my favorite scenes; the post-new years eve nightclub murder--it's the conversation between Macready as the mysterious Ballan Munson and Glenn Ford in Munson's private suite above the nightclub--complete with lunatic mentions of Munson's plans to "rule the world"--that I particularly relish; then Ford's humiliation as he's forced to wait for Gilda outside the hotel in which (as he's all too aware) she's bedded yet another in a long line of admirers (dig Hayworth's "oops, I was a bad girl again" look at Ford); and finally the superb seduction scene back at Munson's house (quite a set as you'll see). I particularly like the tight, soft focus over-the-shoulder favoring Hayworth as she utters the immortal "I hate you so much I think I could die from it" lines and the way the shot turns into a two-shot as Ford turns, panicked, as he realizes they've been seen by Munson. (The narration that preceeds the seduction scene is typical of the way "Gilda's" best moments are undercut by silly one's--the scene would have played perfectly if left silent).
The first time I saw "Gilda" was at a revival house called the Vagabond Theater on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. This would have been in the spring of 1980 and the occasion was memorable because of a very odd thing that happened that I still have trouble believing really happend; just before the movie began (and the theater was quite full) the manager stood in front of the audience and said, "I have an annoucement to make. Tonight, at this screening of "Gilda", we're honored to be joined by the films star, Rita Hayworth." A gasp went through the room. And then, in the center of the room, a hand raised itself tentatively and waived. She didn't stand up but the rest of the audience did and gave her an ovation. She was surrounded, it seemed, by "handlers"--later it became clear that she was already deep into the Alzheimer's that had descended upon her at a young age and the people with her were likely caregivers. Watching the film and knowing that the woman on screen was in the room was an astonishing experience for me--I'm not sure a viewing of any movie has ever felt quite so kinetic. The whole scenario might sound a little ghoulishly "Sunset Blvd"-esque, but I prefer to think that it may have been, on her caregivers part, an effort to revive Hayworth's former self in her mind, and to retrieve something from her past--her greatest screen performance--that she had every reason to be immensely proud of.
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 12:29 PM