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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!

Johnny Farrell is a gambling cheat who turns straight to work for an unsettling casino owner Ballin Mundson. But things take a turn for Johnny as his alluring ex-lover appears as Mundson's wife, and Mundson's machinations begin to unravel.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 1/26/2016

• Audio Commentary with Film Critic Richard Schickel
• “Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann on Gilda” Featurette
• “The Odyssey of Rita Hayworth” TV Program
• Interview with Film Noir Historian Eddie Muller
• Theatrical Trailer
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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.


Gilda: Criterion Collection (1946)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 8, 2016)

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

Actually, even without Hayworth, Gilda still would have been a solid movie. Set in Buenos Aires, 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 that prior relationship 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 snappy writing and 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 get 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 portrayed the character's range of emotions and seemed just as believable when tearful and regretful as when she was bright and frisky.

When I think of Ford, I view him as an older man; his role as Pa Kent in Superman remains 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 displays terrific chemistry with Hayworth. One scene in which Ford handles a smarmy pretty boy showed just how nasty he could be, and I really enjoyed his performance.

I also love 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 find Gilda to be a thoroughly solid movie. The plot offers nothing revolutionary or particularly inventive, but the film features 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. This was a good but not great transfer.

Sharpness appeared fine throughout the movie. At most, mild softness interfered on a couple of occasions, but these examples were rare and the film looked reasonably crisp and detailed. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no significant concerns, and edge haloes were absent.

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, and I sensed that they reflected the source. Low-light shots offered nice clarity.

Print flaws were a mild distraction. I saw a smattering of small specks as well as a few minor streaks/blemishes and a gate hair or two. These didn’t seem dominant, though I thought the movie came with more defects than I expected, as so many 2016 transfers of old films lack any problems. In the end, this was still a good image for a 70-year-old release.

The film boasted a relatively strong Dolby Digital 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. Background noise seemed mild at worst. The mix merited an age-related “B”.

How does this Criterion release compare to those of the prior DVD from 2010? I thought the Criterion version came with slightly cleaner audio and mildly stronger visuals. However, this wasn’t a big upgrade – the two discs largely seemed similar.

The Criterion version mixes old and new extras, and 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 featurette called Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann on Gilda. It 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.

New to the Criterion DVD, we find a 1964 episode of Hollywood and the Stars called The Odyssey of Rita Hayworth. It lasts 25 minutes, nine seconds and provides a basic biography of Hayworth, accompanied by comments from the actress herself. This never becomes an especially insightful piece – after all, it’s essentially TV fluff – but it gives us an acceptable overview along with plenty of clips from Hayworth’s filns.

Under Eddie Muller, we discover a new 22-minute, 12-second chat with the film noir historian. He discusses some production notes as well as character/thematic interpretation. I think Muller pushes the film’s alleged homosexual overtones too strongly, but he still offers a fairly interesting chat.

Finally, we get a foldout booklet. On one side, this provides an essay from film critic Sheila O’Malley, while the other side shows a poster of Rita Hayworth. It offers a nice complement to the set.

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 generally positive picture and audio along with a mediocre set of supplements. I like Gilda and think this becomes the best DVD representation of it, but not by a large margin, as the prior disc was nearly as good.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of GILDA

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