Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Gilda"...Rita Hayworth a knock-out in flawed Film Noir classic!

Film buffs tossed the chilling winter doldrums aside the other night and hot-footed it down to the Castro Theater to catch a Noir City screening of "Gilda" starring effervescent Rita Hayworth.

The atmosphere in the Art Deco movie house was electrically-charged as fans of the B-list genre poured over delightful memorabilia from the 40's era from whence the Noir films were originally coined, sipped on potent cocktails (demon Bourbon, for starters), and strutted their stand-out period threads (sparked up with wide boldly-patterned festive cravats, eye-catching suspenders, and rakish Fedoras).

The two classic films -"Gilda" and "The Money Trap" (both starring gorgeous actress Rita Hayworth and handsome Glenn Ford) - were a big draw.

Obviously, it was the charms of the charismatic twosome, that lured in die-hard fans (who proceeded to pack the exquisitely-decorated revival house no problem).

For the legendary "Rita Hayworth", "Gilda" was a break-out role that cemented her fame in film archives around the globe as one of the great "Love Goddesses" of that (or any other) glittering Hollywood era.

In one mesmerizing show-stopping scene (in which the breathtaking bombshell warbles about the 1906 San Francisco "quake") when "Gilda" breaks out into song - and a spectacular sizzling-hot dance routine - the sultry siren literally brought the house down.

In fact, it was no doubt the dazzling allure of Ms. Hayworth's ravishing beauty - and remarkable acting gifts - that turned her precious-little screen time into a handful of the most memorable moments on celluloid in film history.

Glenn Ford was outstanding, too, but - at times - the awkward-looking lead actor was unable to truly hold his own against Ms. Hayworth's luminous screen persona.

In spite of the fact the movie is often considered a work of perfection by critics and fans alike, "Gilda" is flawed in many respects, though.

Indeed, the direction by Charles Vidor - who was usually a master at the helm - was often downright sloppy.

For example, in one scene Gilda dashes up a grand staircase, then, half-turns to hurl a couple of quips back at her co-star.

Unfortunately, Vidor neglected to advise Ms. Hayworth to take a baby step-or-two up, where the light would have bathed her beautiful face in a more flattering light.

Instead, Gilda was in the shadows, struggling to be acknowledged in a pivotal scene.

In another annoying moment, Ms. Hayworth rolls over on a king-size bed - but, once again - was not given appropriate direction.

Had Ms. Hayworth fallen back a couple of feet - instead of forward - the lighting would have framed her stunning features face - and, subsequently resonated - to capture a lasting screen impression.

At one point, the snafus were so glaring, I had to seriously wonder if the director was "pissed off" with Ms. Hayworth that day - and thus - elected to punish her by rustling up some unflattering shots to steal a moment or two of her glorious day in the sun.

But, upon reflection, I opted to chalk up the slip-shod set-ups, to a lack of skill (and shortcomings) on the part of Mr. Vidor (arising from an amateurish approach at the offset).

After all, it was difficult to block out other celluloid moments where it appeared that Vidor was toying with the effects of light and shadow, with disastrous results in other segments of the flick.

For moi, those stilted scenes literally jarred my artistic sensibilities.

In spite of the aforementioned, Ms. Hayworth managed to upstage everyone in the tight, talented, ensemble cast of stellar actors.

Rita in a nutshell?

Ravishing! Vivacious! Sensational!

When she passed over to spirit, God broke the mold.

Bless that great dame, eh?

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