Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gilda Movie Review

Gilda, directed by Charles Vidor, written by E.A. Ellington (story) Marion Parsonnet (screenplay) Jo Eisinger (adaptation) Ben Hecht uncredited. Starring Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, and George Macready. 1946, 110 minutes.

If you want to see some fantastic acting, watch Gilda. Rita Hayworth is simply fantastic. Flirtatious, vindictive, scared, fearless, and flirtatious. Did I mention flirtatious? She has one of the best introduction scenes in this movie of any actress ever. Her face is vivid with emotion. Glenn Ford is as good as ever. I’ve only recently come to realize just how good an actor Ford is and why he was such a big star in the 1940s and 1950s. If you need to catch up on some of his movies, watch 3:10 to Yuma, and The Big Heat (See my review of the Big Heat).

Gilda is about one woman and two men, much like Casablanca, but different. Ballin Mundson (George Macready) runs an illegal gambling house (like Casablanca!) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) is his right hand man. When Ballin goes out of town once, he comes back with a wife, Gilda (Rita Hayworth). Johnny and Gilda have a history (like Casablanca!) and Ballin is suspicious. Johnny and Gilda love and hate each other tremendously. Johnny does his best to stay loyal to his boss and see that Gilda does also. Three broken people in such a tight grouping makes for explosive emotions. It doesn’t help when illegal activities are also part of the scene.

Rita Hayworth is smoldering, smoking, simmering, and sensuous. In addition, there is some great dialog, which is always appreciated. Gilda: "If I'd been a ranch, they would have named me The Bar None." -- Johnny Farrell: "Doesn't it bother you at all that you're married?" Gilda: "What I want to know is, does it bother you?" -- While Gilda is dancing with an Argentine, he asks where she comes from, she says "America." He replies, "Isn’t this America?" South America is of course part of America. She smiles and says "I mean New York." Yes folks, New York is America, even in the 1940s.

The DVD has been beautifully transferred and looks fabulous. The sound quality is also exceptional for a 1940s Film Noir. The bonus features includes a short history of Rita Hayworth’s film career that ends very abruptly. I highly recommend Gilda.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Big Heat Movie Review

The Big Heat. Directed by Fritz Lang. Starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin. Screenplay by Sydney Boehm from a serial story in the Saturday Evening Post by William P. McGivern. 1953, 89 minutes.

What a great thriller. Boy, they used to know how to make a tight well-told story. If The Big Heat were to be remade today it would be 2 ½ bloated hours, not 89 minutes (less than 1 and-a-half hours!).

Glenn Ford is Dave Bannion, a homicide detective assigned to file the report on a cop who committed suicide. What he figures is a pretty standard open-and-shut case to file gets him into trouble when a barfly calls him up and questions the suicide. Bannion’s not quite sure what to make of this and follows up, looking for the truth. Then the barfly turns up dead. This plunges him into a mess of corruption and misery.

Lee Marvin is so believably sadistic that one wonders how he got any dates after this movie. Gloria Grahame gets all the good lines in The Big Heat. Bannion is no wit, but he is methodical, honest, and pissed. The DVD has some of the old advertising posters and trailers for The Big Heat, The Lady from Shanghai, and Suddenly, Last Summer. The Big Heat is one of the top Film Noir movies, so be sure to buy it or stick it in your Netflix queue. Today.

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