Gilda (1946) features Rita Hayworth at the height of her career as one of the most memorable femme fatales in cinema history. She plays the eponymous Gilda, a woman who crashes about the world, leaving trouble in her wake. Hayworth is joined on screen by Glenn Ford, who plays Johnny Farrell, an unscrupulous gambler, living by the motto, “a dollar was a dollar in any language.” Together, they match wits with Ballin Mundson, played by George Macready, the wealthy operator of a casino in Buenos Aries. After Farrell cheats the blackjack game, he talks Mundson into hiring him on as casino manager. Farrell discovers the casino is a front for a crime syndicate and soon becomes entwined in a love triangle with Mundson and the tempestuous Gilda.
Hayworth is absolutely captivating in her role as the female jewel in a group of American expatriates. Humphrey Bogart was offered the role of Farrell, but turned it down because he worried about competing with Hayworth on screen. For his part, Ford is very strong as the gambler who knows all the angles, but he cannot match the sultry and seductive power of Hayworth. In her portrayal of Gilda, she captures the spirit of a desperate gambler on a terminal mission. She makes her own luck and seems to prefer if it is bad. Bankruptcy isn’t enough; she plays for blood. And, like the most degenerate of binges, she doesn’t care who wins, or even if no one does.
Final Grade- A-