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Daily Dose of Darkness #9: Showstopping (Scene from Gilda)


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What is really captivating about this musical sequence is its duality: there is the illusion and idealized vision of Gilda, a sexy and confident woman men grovel at, as viewed by the audience (and us the spectators as well) and then there's Gilda's own insecurity and her broken down image at the end of this scene. The close-ups exude Gilda's hyper sexuality with the hair whips and slow, sensuous removal of her glove. She is teasing the audience, luring them in true femme fatale fashion. Her exuberance implies confidence but by the end of the scene we know that it is a mask for her insecurity and her attempt to lower herself to "prove" Johnny Farrell right: that she is a loose woman who used her feminine wiles to manipulate him. 

 

This sequence is insecurity, regret and resentment lusciously wrapped in silky confidence and sexuality. Jazz, in all its improvised sensuality and freedom, is her mask. It is the tool that grants her confidence or rather audacity for a brief moment. 

I feel like many women's studies papers have been written on this exact sequence. Having Gilda be able to control the room with her sexualized song (incidentally also about how a sexy woman wreaked havoc on towns) gives her all the power, until someone who is immune to her charms takes her away. Then, her false confidence is shattered and viewers see her real insecurities.

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Daily Dose of Darkness #9: Showstopping (Scene from Gilda)

 

 —What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene?

I kept wondering how she managed to keep the top of her dress from falling off! And I noticed that her gloves were black, not white. Obviously her dance is very suggestive; she appears to be doing a slow striptease. When male audience members applaud and ask for more, she obliges by throwing her second glove and a necklace. When they rush the stage to help her with her zipper, I started to feel like they were predators pawing at her. For me, the party starts crashing when the first man starts running.

—What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence?

Weren’t entertainers on stage and in nightclubs viewed with some disdain in the 1940s? Gilda seems to be throwing away all pretense, almost literally, as she throws gloves and the necklace into the audience. She tries to make it seem like she doesn’t care, and she tries to hurt Johnny when he grabs her and asks her what she means. But then she breaks down in tears, and I don’t think it’s simply because Johnny slaps her. This scene starts out like a party and dissolves into regret and despair. (I’ve seen the movie, but it’s been a while; I still might be reading more into this one clip.)

—In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir?

Nightclubs are perfect places for music, singing, dancing—and trouble. They’re also perfect for entertaining moviegoers, so it’s a great combination. In Gilda, the nightclub and the music are integral to the plot. Gilda and Johnny aren’t running away from jobs in a nightclub; both of them work in the same one. Gilda’s dance number is suggestive and affords another way to get around the Hollywood Production Code.

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I wonder if the inclusion of musical numbers in any film from the 40s wasn’t a leftover from the 30s, when successful vaudeville acts had musical numbers.  I’ll have to see if I can find an answer.

 

I thought Gilda’s song and dance was more of a power play.  In keeping with the femme fatale, Gilda was using her looks and talent to show the men in her life, Farrell and Mundson, that she has power of her own.  But in noir fashion, she is a damaged individual.  She causes a near riot when she asks help with her zipper.  Men start fighting over her and all she can do is laugh.

 

The song set the playful mood, as it is an upbeat number.  I found the cadence to add a touch of darkness to the number; if it was faster, it would be a peppy tune.  At its current tempo, the song sounds like it has a hint of sadness.

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I notice an extremely sexy woman using her sensuality (voice and body movement), to seduce the onlookers as well as garner attention from the sadistic character of Johnny.

 

Her sexuality is her only real weapon of control against a crowd of wolffish men and the man she loves who is otherwise Ignoring her and his relationship to her.

 

The vampy music assists with melodic crescendo and boom, beating in tempo with the bold movement of her scantily clad body.

 

Sexually stunning. Provocative. Direct. Erotic. She succeeds.

 

If I was Johnny, I'd have whisked her from dance floor to bedroom posthaste.

 

Parting thought: Rita Hayworth makes Angelina Jolie look like a common house frump.

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I had heard about the animators being inspired by her, but I've never seen Gilda (maybe this weekend though). Now I completely see the inspiration for Jessica! As an artist, I was completely inspired by the way that Rita Hayworth moved in her portrayal as Gilda. Anyway, back to the discussion...

 

The thing that I notice the most about the way Rita Hayworth portrays Gilda is the way she saturates her performance with sexuality. In the wideshots, she leads with her hips; in the closeups, not only does she seduce the men in the audience, she also seduces the audience as well.

 

I guess I would say that the deeper meanings that I saw came after the song. Not knowing anything about the film, after her performance, I got the impression that she was just a loose woman. But as she and Johnny (?) interacted, I saw that her seduction as a mask, and now I'm intrigued by that mask.

 

As far as the jazz influence, I agree that this jazz is more along the lines of burlesque than what I would consider "traditional" jazz. Again, having not seen the movie, I can't speak to the other ways that jazz is used in this film. From what some of you had been saying, though, it sounds like "Put the Blame on Mame" is one of Gilda's themes, so it'll be interesting to see what the rest of the film is like.

 

Ahhh you're in for a treat. I almost wish I had never seen Gilda before to experience it with fresh eyes. This is one of my favorite films period let alone a noir fave.

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Good observation. In the movie there were several decades worth of hole coverings including the lovely Raquel Welch poster. I'm reading the original King story it was adapted from called "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" and have yet to touch on those details.

Funny, I immediately thought of this as well, and suddenly I'd understand wanting to have a poster of Rita Hayworth.

I have GOT to find time to watch Gilda.  Fantastic!

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I think jazz and film noir complement each other very well.  The range of moods, the ups and downs common in film noir require a form of music with the same range.  In the 30's and during the early war big bands dominated the music scene.  For the most part this had an upbeat rhythm which went well with the feel good movies of the time.  The changing mood of the country following the war was accompanied by the change in direction of films.  At the same time jazz musicians were experimenting with new approaches to music, ranging from mellow to highly charged.  Filmmakers took advantage of this to create the desired atmosphere for movies which would come to be known as film noir.   

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I agree with several of the posters that, at least musically, this number wasn't particularly noirish although it was quite sexy. It's undertones of sensuality and violence give it luster. One of the things that attracted me to film noir was its use of jazz. Rhino Records put out a set called Crime Jazz about 20 years ago and I think TCM did as well. Worth searching for.

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 Miss Hayworth's character is in an upscale night club, but she proceeds to do a bump and grind routine that's more appropriate for a strip joint. In doing so she brings the club's affluent clientele down to her level. Or were they there already. One thing I've about noir is that it depicts a society that appears cultured and benevolent on its surface, but below it is a cesspool of corruption. And the more affluent one is, the dirtier one is likely to be. I also noticed how careful the filmmakers were not to violate the production code. Very little cleavage is shown, and she only removes two gloves and a necklace. As far as the music, it was tame by noir standards. If you want to see a jazz club that really cooks, watch D.O.A.

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My first thought was,"Hey, this is that movie they were watching in Shawshank Redemption!" Then once I got past that recognition, I watched the scene more closely. She is seducing everyone. The audience on film and us viewers at home by looking directly at the camera and breaking that fourth wall. Obviously, this is an act of defiance as well considering Glenn Ford's stiff demeanor. Once the song ended, she took it a step further and preceded to take all of her clothes off which really set Ford off. Frankly, I was surprised by that last part as well despite having watched so many films noir the past few weeks. I still have the notion that the older classic films are clean and proper but this course is setting me straight on that. If this was the opening of the film then I am hooked

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What did I notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when watching this scene?

 

She might have been performing in front of a crowd, but the message , song and dance were meant just for Johnny.  He hurt her and she wanted to get back at him in public.  He thought she was no good, so she played the "Bad Girl!"  It was loaded with a raw, smoldering sexuality.  

 

What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence?

 

Besides a woman gone bad, deception, lust, love and hate. 

 

 In what ways do I think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir?

 

The music sets the pace of film noir.   It also announces mystery,fear, suspense, anticipation and many other emotions. It also evokes in one way or another an emotional response from the viewer.

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What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene?

 

My first impression was "pin-up girl" when she kept pushing her hair up on top of her head. Almost posing as such. She had gorgeous locks and flaunted that aspect of her allure throughout the dance.  Taking off one glove is just as seductive as taking everything off...probably more so.  Her moving up and back from the camera, whilst swinging her glove, was an another attempt to seduce us.  At times I thought she'd lose her balance which indicated she was possibly drunk. She certainly got Johnny all riled up which is what she wanted to do....especially when she asked for help to unzip her dress. That did it for Johnny.

 

What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence?

 

The audience was certainly getting a thrill out of her performance. They were watching this exhibition on a superficial level and not connecting with the profound significance of what Gilda's dance represented.  I felt that Gilda was metaphorically unwrapping herself and exclaiming, "Here I am in all my tawdriness...how do you like it?"  She was "talking" to Johnny.

 

In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir?

 

I am not a music expert by any means. However, I believe jazz and blues music can set the tone in film noir; for example, the jazz sound track in The Sweet Smell of Success represents the edgy, disjointed and even sleazy theme of the movie while the blues music typifies the noir nightclubs by being sultry and murky.  Just maybe not too much of it.

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 -- What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene?  Her hair, for one.  Her hair was a prop as much as the low-cut dress was.  Notice how she plays with it and swings it and at one point it is askew, as if she has mussed it up in bed playing out the seduction that is simply artifice here, an invitation to prove in what appears a somewhat hyperbolic way that she is a "sl..." as she says to Johnny.  But is she?  She exaggerates in this performance, with her unnatural stance on the heels almost uncomfortable to watch, as if she is doubled over a bit.  I wondered if she were drunk; perhaps she was drunk on her need to strip.


-- What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence?  You can see the various layers of meaning with the song especially, its lyrics, adding to the back story of how a woman is responsible for something awful (the earthquake, some unhappiness).  The tempo of the music is sensual as well.


-- In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir?  I am still learning but sense that it added to the mood as well as to the story line.  In this case. the music is what first draws Johnny to turn his attention to the stage, so we move from that pinpoint perspective to the larger scene on the stage, which is an exaggerated dance with a song that is more controlled than the emotions are. 


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The camera just loves Rita Hayworth and her performance puts the audience (both the one on the screen and at the theater) in the palm of her hand. This "striptease", which was racy at the time, is subtle in its sexuality leaving plenty to the imagination. She borders on both sexy and innocent. Tension between her and Glen Ford is built throughout culminating in the climactic encounter at the end.

 

In film noirs, music plays a heavy role. I can point to films like "Laura," "I Wake Up Screaming", and "Double Indemnity" where the score furthers the storytelling. In "The Killers" where Ava Gardner sings, the reactions of the other characters add elements to her overall character. We get to know more about her based on what they say.

 

I think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir in helping to create this darker side. You can film in black and white and use shadows but the music really takes it to another level.

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The performer, Gilda played by Rita Heyworth is part of the action. She gives a very sexual, flirty performance. This makes Johnny uncomfortable, and eventually infuriates him. As she throws out her glove to the audience, and then  the necklace, which Johnny probably gave her, it symbolizes that she isn't anyone's property, especially Johnny's, and this angers him more. 


Music is sensuous, fun, mysterious, and liberating. 


I think the influence are that it allows Film Noir to cross genre, so to speak. It enters into anywhere it wants. Musical performances, lavish sets, great costumes, as well as dirt and darkness, and despair, of films like Detour.


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Daily Dose of Darkness #9: Showstopping (Scene from Gilda)

 

 —What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene?

I kept wondering how she managed to keep the top of her dress from falling off! And I noticed that her gloves were black, not white. Obviously her dance is very suggestive; she appears to be doing a slow striptease. When male audience members applaud and ask for more, she obliges by throwing her second glove and a necklace. When they rush the stage to help her with her zipper, I started to feel like they were predators pawing at her. For me, the party starts crashing when the first man starts running.

—What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence?

Weren’t entertainers on stage and in nightclubs viewed with some disdain in the 1940s? Gilda seems to be throwing away all pretense, almost literally, as she throws gloves and the necklace into the audience. She tries to make it seem like she doesn’t care, and she tries to hurt Johnny when he grabs her and asks her what she means. But then she breaks down in tears, and I don’t think it’s simply because Johnny slaps her. This scene starts out like a party and dissolves into regret and despair. (I’ve seen the movie, but it’s been a while; I still might be reading more into this one clip.)

—In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir?

Nightclubs are perfect places for music, singing, dancing—and trouble. They’re also perfect for entertaining moviegoers, so it’s a great combination. In Gilda, the nightclub and the music are integral to the plot. Gilda and Johnny aren’t running away from jobs in a nightclub; both of them work in the same one. Gilda’s dance number is suggestive and affords another way to get around the Hollywood Production Code.

 

You're totally right about noticing her dress and gloves being black. That had to have been a very conscious choice by the director and the costume designer. White is often a symbol of innocence and purity, and we can tell in even such a short clip that Gilda is neither of those things. But she owns being neither pure nor innocent in that number, and that's a huge reason why she's so seductive in this scene. 

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Rita Hayworth definitely captivated her audience in this film clip. She demonstrates how a woman can draw people in and exert control over them. In film noir, this can be crucial for the femme character. I never thought of jazz music as being noir but when played in certain tones, it can have a creepy effect. I have seen this movie before but I didn't realize what was being said in this song. I guess it is jazz noir!!

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Spot on. Man, Johnny did not deserve Gilda in this movie. The saddest thing for me was seeing just how stuck on him she was. Part of me wished it hadn't all been an act, that she was really just that liberated and free and full of life. But to find out most of it was in service of getting that little weasel to pay attention to her was a bit disappointing.

 

But I really like your idea that Johnny is the Male Fatale, as he's the guy who insinuates himself into the story and ends up bringing about most of the tragedy.

Interesting take on Johnny as the Homme Fatale. I haven't seen Gilda in a while and I am very much looking forward to seeing it again after reading this post and so many of the others here.

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What I noticed about Rita Hayworth's performance during the Put the Blame on Mame number was one of power and dominance.   The power being her sexuality as she takes to the stage discarding her cape and diving right into a classy and sophisticated song and dance which is a pretense for a bawdy (almost striptease) bump and grind rendition of a song giving her total control of the room, the club, the audience, everyone with the exception of Glenn Ford's Johnny Farrell.  The night club band music reinforces her visual stimulating power with the sounds of brass rhythm and bass drum beats accenting her every move.  Likewise the camerawork with medium shots showing off her exaggerated sensual moves while moving in for close ups to emphasize her gorgeous figure, low cut satin gown, flowing locks of hair and a raised eyebrow or two with a come hither look.  Even the orchestra was applauding at the end of her song.   Her whole performance was a high octane charged effort to push Glenn Ford's buttons which she did very effectively. 

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i'm glad others found her dancing clumsy. i beleive it was intentional. 

SPOILERS

Gidla knew that Johnny got upset when other men showed her attention. I don't think she was drunk, she was pushing his buttons and knew what would make him come running to her. So she did the most outrageous thing on purpose to irritate him and once he got irritated he would come to her.

The real mystery was what was their connection in America, I wish there was a 5 minute segment in the movie with a more detailed description but there's not

 

That scene kinda reminds me of Laury in Born to kill using the squirt Danny to needle the new one, but Laury ended up getting murdered playing that game

Absolutely pushing his buttons. Lol!

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Gilda is a great film...

It´s interesting to see how, in the scene of "mame", is synthetized musically, the tension and the relationship of love - hatred of the protagonists.: She makes her number to provoke him, and the reaction is not expected.  It´s an image of great visual strength that became famous.

Rita Hayworth displays a great sensuality and eroticism, and that only glove that is removed is enough to prove it, is obviously not a simple musical scene. I think that directors already are encouraged, especially by the "noir" influence, to transgress as much as possible, to challenge the Hays code.

Also is reflected in this film, the protagonists, heroes and heroines of noir, they have a "past", are imperfect, drag passions, are wound and hurt and, however, are "the goods"…

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Daily Dose of Darkness #9: Showstopping (Scene from Gilda)

 

 —What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene?

I kept wondering how she managed to keep the top of her dress from falling off! And I noticed that her gloves were black, not white. Obviously her dance is very suggestive; she appears to be doing a slow striptease. When male audience members applaud and ask for more, she obliges by throwing her second glove and a necklace. When they rush the stage to help her with her zipper, I started to feel like they were predators pawing at her. For me, the party starts crashing when the first man starts running.

—What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence?

Weren’t entertainers on stage and in nightclubs viewed with some disdain in the 1940s? Gilda seems to be throwing away all pretense, almost literally, as she throws gloves and the necklace into the audience. She tries to make it seem like she doesn’t care, and she tries to hurt Johnny when he grabs her and asks her what she means. But then she breaks down in tears, and I don’t think it’s simply because Johnny slaps her. This scene starts out like a party and dissolves into regret and despair. (I’ve seen the movie, but it’s been a while; I still might be reading more into this one clip.)

—In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir?

Nightclubs are perfect places for music, singing, dancing—and trouble. They’re also perfect for entertaining moviegoers, so it’s a great combination. In Gilda, the nightclub and the music are integral to the plot. Gilda and Johnny aren’t running away from jobs in a nightclub; both of them work in the same one. Gilda’s dance number is suggestive and affords another way to get around the Hollywood Production Code.

 

I also found it interesting that Johnny's "henchman" let the dance and actions almost get out of hand before he rushed in to stop her. He was deliciously watching the show just like the audience. I swear that I saw just a twinge of excitement in Johnny's eyes when he first laid eyes on her routine; it was just a split second; he enjoyed, and then all turned to revulsion. I might be reading too much into his eyes in that scene.

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As many on the forum noted today, it can be difficult to approach this iconic scene from "Gilda" with fresh eyes. Even if one has never seen the entire film, there's a fair chance one may have seen this number.

 

It's always seemed to me a very sexy scene. Some have noted how Rita doesn't actually do much, but she does just enough to make one think there could be more to come. While there was really no chance of it, it's hard not to image her coming out of that low cut dress in a full strip tease. Imagination can be be more powerful than the thing itself, and of course Gilda's specifically playing on the imagination of all the men in the audience (but especially Johnny).

 

Rita's performance as Gilda seems completely out of control here...until she is confronted by the bodyguard and Johnny, when she snaps completely out of of it, letting you know that Gilda wants to be seen this way and is completely in control of what she's doing here.

 

There have also been many comments as to whether this song is actually jazz, but one thing that seems to have been missed is the lyric if the song. We're to "Put the Blame on Mame" and certainly we're invited to consider Gilda as Mame. But might Gilda just as easily entertained those other women (Mother Nature and the Lady known as Lou) who apparently unfairly got the blame. Is Gilda saying she is a bad woman or that she's being unfairly treated as one.

 

So many levels of performance here.

 

And did anyone notice how Johnny's face always seems to be in shadow, even when in groups where everyone else seems well lit?

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Absolutely pushing his buttons. Lol!

The first time I saw this movie, their love/hate relationship drove me crazy, as I felt it was a bit sadomasochistic. How could they love each other so much and still inflict so much torture on the other? But, then, that's why it's a film noir!!

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