By Bill Dudley

‘Gilda’ was the woman your mother warned you about, and the girl your father probably wanted to date.

Actress Debra Winger was the host as ‘Gilda’ was screened at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival. It was filmed in black and white shortly after World War II, but once you’ve seen it, you’d swear it was in color. The reason for that is Rita Hayworth.

I once owned an original movie poster from ‘Gilda” featuring Rita in a bright green dress with her flaming red hair and hot burning cigarette. I spent a lot of money on it, and a few years later I sold it for three times that amount. Every time I see the film, especially on a big screen, I wish I still had the poster. I missed it so much, I finally bought a small reproduction of it to hang next to my jukebox.

‘Gilda’ has a script that’s all over the place, but strong performances make it a film to see again and again. Rita is both sensual and hypnotizing as ‘Gilda.’ Glenn Ford plays Gilda’s’s ex-husband, who both loves and hates her equally. The feeling is mutual. Bad guys, liquor, evil German’s, and casino gambling all flourish in ‘Gilda.’ Glenn Ford’s character clearly defines his opinion of ‘Gilda’ when he blurts out “statistics show more women in the world than anything…except insects.” Gilda proudly states ” If I were a ranch, I’d be called the bar none.”

Rita Hayworth was married at least six times. Her husbands included actor/director ‘Orson Welles’, crooner Dick Haymes, and Prince Aly Khan. Yes Rita was married to a foreign dignitary several years before Grace Kelly took the plunge in the 1950s

. I think Rita’s timeless portrayal of ‘Gilda’ is one of the best “naughty girl” performances of all time. She and Glenn Ford remained close friends for life. Glenn was a pallbearer at her premature funeral in 1987. Rita’s colorful personal life contributes greatly to her mystique as ‘Gilda.’ I’m told that her voice was substituted by another singer when she performed “Put the Blame On Mame,” both times when she sings it in the film. The song is still running thru my mind almost a week later, and I swear I saw ‘Gilda’ sing it in a green dress. ‘Gilda’ is available on DVD, but only in black and white.


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