gilda-poster-mediumGilda is one of those classic movies that I have heard so much about, seen clips of (especially the famous “Put the Blame on Mame” musical number) but never actually sat down and watched, so when the BFI had a showing recently the Book God (who had seen it many moons ago) and I made our way to the NFT on London’s South Bank to fill the gap in my cinematic knowledge.

But first, what does IMDB say about Gilda?

The sinister boss of a South American casino finds that his right-hand man Johnny and his sensuous new wife Gilda already know each other.

Which as usual tells you so much and so little all at the same time. They must train specially for this.

So Glenn Ford (for it is he) is a down on his luck gambler who is saved from a mugging or worse by the rather suave if distinctly creepy George Macready who has one of the best character names ever (Ballin Mundson) and a rather glorious swordstick as his special friend. He employs Glenn to run his casino, pops off abroad on business and comes back with a wife (Gilda) who just happens to have “known” Glenn’s character previously. Shenanigans ensue.

Wow but this is real melodrama!  Jealousy, barely concealed hatred, murder, gambling, drinking, revenge, Nazis (of course) and a whole subtext about just what exactly is the nature of the relationship between Glenn and George (they seem awfully close).

And then there’s Rita with her face and her hair and her astonishing wardrobe. I love black and white movies but there were moments when I wished it had been in colour just so I could get a better sense of her costumes. What a star she was, a huge screen presence.

I really enjoyed this film, pleased to have been able to see it in a proper cinema rather than on TV, and so enthralled that I apparently missed the fact that Kim Cattrall was in the audience. If you haven’t seen it do give it a try, it is a genuine classic.

If you are still unconvinced, perhaps a quote from the Monthly Film Bulletin of April 1946 might persuade you:

There is not a single pleasant character in this rather grim and sordid picture

That’s a good thing, honestly!