Gilda (1946) – An OCF Classic Movie Review

This is considered a film noir.  I’d call it a happy ending in search of a plot.

The movie begins with Glenn Ford as Johnny Farrell, a down on his luck American in Argentina that is rescued from an armed robbery by a mysterious man with a sword cane.  This man, Ballin Mundson, ends up hiring him to run his illegal casino and soon enough he is Mundson’s right hand man and has all the secrets of Mundson’s fabulous wealth and power.  Apparently Mundson was in cahoots with Nazis who gave him fabulous secrets for cornering the market on fabulous tungsten.  Really, tungsten.  We’re told that a monopoly on tungsten will give Mundson control of the world!  So, since this is 1946 there are disgruntled ex-Nazis running around.  Apparently, they gave him the secrets of tungsten.  Plus, Mundson marries Gilda (played by the very beautiful Rita Hayworth) who was heavily involved with Farrell back in the United States.  But although Mundson suspects that they have history neither will admit to it.

For whatever reason that you care to come up with yourself we’re supposed to believe that Johnny and Gilda hate and love each other and all the tricks Gilda plays to make Johnny either jealous, or worried about Mundson becoming jealous, or both, make sense.  But they don’t.  It’s silly and annoying.

But all good things must come to an end.  Both the Argentine police and the Nazis are closing in on Mundson.  Probably a spike in the price of tungsten.  In rapid succession, Mundson kills one of the Nazis, orders a plane to be ready for him at an airfield, sees Gilda and Johnny kissing in her bedroom then flees to the airfield with Johnny and the police in hot pursuit.  They arrive in time to watch Mundson’s plane take off and then explode over the Atlantic Ocean.  But Mundson parachutes out and is picked up by a waiting boat.

If that’s not goofy enough, Johnny then marries Gilda, the heiress to the tungsten cartel and takes the reins of tungsten power.  He then tells Gilda that she will be treated as a prisoner with no conjugal privileges until she admits to all the love affairs she’s had since Johnny left her in their old life.  Huhh?  She runs away to Uruguay (!) but the Tungsten King has his henchmen bring her back.  Gilda and Johnny are very unhappy.

Meanwhile the police want to bust up the tungsten cartel and they close the casino to force Johnny to give them the information.  When he does, the police inspector tells Johnny that Gilda and Johnny are both in love with each other and they should go back to America and be happy.  So, Johnny walks into the casino to ask Gilda to forgive him and return to America with him.

Just then Mundson returns and intends to shoot Johnny and Gilda.  But the bathroom attendant stabs Mundson in the back with his own sword cane.  And the police inspector tells Johnny and the bathroom guy that since Mundson committed suicide months ago he can’t be murdered.  Huhh?

I forgot to tell you about the bathroom attendant.  He’s comic relief that advises both Johnny and Gilda on life.  Plus, he’s a bathroom attendant.

So, Gilda and Johnny live happily ever after unless they screw up again.

Okay, that’s unbelievable isn’t it?  But the guy who plays Mundson is fun to listen to with his German accent and his love of canes and capes and stuff.  Rita Hayworth is fun to look at and she dances sometimes and lip synchs to someone singing “Put the Blame on Mame.”  And even though all this stuff sounds absurd the movie moves right along and, well, before you know it there’s that plane crash and then that happy ending.

This is a silly movie but I think it’s worth watching because Rita Hayworth is very pretty and looks swell dancing.  And there are Nazis and there is that bathroom attendant who is sort of a home-grown philosopher and pretty handy with a sword cane.

So, I recommend this film but if what I wrote doesn’t convince you then give it a pass.

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