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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Gilda (1946)



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Rita Hayworth is arguably best known for her title role in Gilda, a sympathetic femme fatale who complicates an already complicated partnership between the underhanded owner of a gambling joint and his new right-hand man. There are dark, conflicting emotions at play here, and they intertwine together in a greatly entertaining character thriller. This is a classic film noir of great psychological complexity. It's a cliche for the romantic leads of comedies to declare how much they hate each other, then relent in a kiss. There is a similar scene in Gilda, except that when the characters declare their hatred, boy do they mean it, and when they kiss, we know, with great foreboding, that they mean that too. A supporting character nails it: "You two kids love each other pretty terribly, don't you?" / "I hate her!" / "That's what I mean."

It's obvious the writers understand their characters, and so it is all the more baffling when the film winds down to its only serious -- and unfortunately crippling -- flaw. The ending of the movie cannot be taken seriously by an intelligent viewer; the characters do not deserve it, and it's impossible to conceive that the issues they have are as resolved as the film suggests. Gilda is certainly more than worth watching, but its ending prevents it from being the great film it should have been.