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Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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I felt that Rita Hayworth came across as a bit manic.  Her performance felt very much on the edge as she was singing, but very much in control afterwards.  I haven't seen Gilda yet (but I'm setting up the DVR to help me out!).  This scene is about all I have seen of it, but I know it's an iconic performance.  I'm excited to see it!

 

In terms of music, well, that's going to be a major influence in any film!  It guides the audience through the story.  It can be quite a manipulative tool at the filmmaker's disposal.Imagine a movie like Psycho without it!  I love that jazz is often affiliated with film noir.  Jazz always conjures up ideas of the city, the unpredictability of life, and truth.   At least I think so.

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I agree with msbella that the song isn't completely jazz but the big band arrangement swings, pretty wildly. At one point, two quick drum hits in time as Gilda moves her hips are a nod to striptease shows. The close-up where she fluffs her hair seductively is something Marilyn Monroe copied several years later, consciously or unconsciously.

 

It's also curious what we don't see in the scene. Johnny is shown in only one quick reaction shot. He isn't pleased, obviously, but he's enough of a showman, and has enough sense, to let the show go on. While the music is playing, he can still tell himself that it's all just part of the act, an illusion. It's only when the music stops and Gilda asks for audience assistance with her zipper that he moves in and ends her performance.

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It almost sounded like she was singing "put the blame on 'me'". Which I think she was. She was telling a story, likely her story, through song. The song was another vehicle for narration but it was very potent because of the dynamics between Gilda and the audience and Johnny. She not only provoked the audience with her sensual, albeit clumsy dance but threw it in Johnny's face. The tension was exacerbated by Johnny not interupting her performance and climaxed in the smack afterward. The titliation was a huge bonus because who doesn't want to see Rita Hayworth do a striptease and made the film skirt the edge of appropriateness, a common film noir trait.

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The sense of voyeurism permeates this scene and becomes meta as we are swept up in Gilda’s show. Film IS voyeurism, but we as an audience are called on it in this scene.

 

We establish the scene with Ford hearing the music and snapping into a fearful/controlling mode as he opens a window to look in at Hayworth -- he knows she has released the Kraken.  But it isn’t enough for him – the fear propels him into the club’s main room where in the few cuts away from Hayworth we see the effect she has on others – gaping, leering; when she asks for help, the men become riotous. (There are women in the audience as well, but we don’t notice them).  But we, too, are watching Hayworth’s mannered routine become an unstoppable force that even she can’t control as she’s dragged off stage; we can’t help but be overwhelmed.  By the time Ford pulls her away, even with the danger of his jealousy, she can’t stop her movement – her sexuality has taken over and created a riot. 

 

And the lyric, simple as it is, is about a woman who creates an earthquake –  a woman’s sexuality as a killing force (“Mother Nature was up to her old tricks,” is a lyric that suggests the feminine connection, but even moreso,  when Mame“began to shim and shake, that brought on the Frisco quake”).  This is a song about the killing danger of a woman’s sexuality in which sexual abandon equals ruin.

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When the dance first begins you're expecting (Hoping) for a classic burlesque dance.  But Hayworth is either intoxicated or acting intoxicated and the dance seems contrived.  The entire scene is a performance not for the audience (they're just lucky enough to witness it), but for Glenn Ford she wants his attention and she wants a reaction; which she gets.

 

I think the point of this scene is to throw the sexuality of Rita Hayworth in Glenn Ford's face.  She saying "See what you've thrown away, there are a lot of men who are more than happy to have me!"  She wanted a reaction from Glenn Ford, in her mind it proves he still cares. 

 

 

 

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Rita Hayworth mesmerizes us from the very start and never lets go!.  I could see myself as one of the guys who rushes to get on stage to help her.  Glenn Ford spoils all the fun!  Truth be told, his performance is as powerful as Rita Hayworth's in this classic film!

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Gilda performs her signature number, "Put the Blame on Mame," she is not simply enraging both Mundson and Farrell with her open sexuality, she is also crying out in pain for the love she is being denied.

 

Q1: She teases a strip tease, and uses her signature hair flip to intice others into her web.

Q2: The seething layer below screams loneliness.

Q3: The music is intertwined and ironic and sets up the love triangle between Mundson, Farrell and the infamous Gilda. The jazz influences of expressionism and improvisition spotlight her tortured soul. She brings Ford's laconic exterior to an inner boil. We are thrust to their inner hell and manifestation, later of guilt.

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The famous scene from Gilda reminds me of the famous scene in From Here to Eternity.  Both scenes are perceived differently for someone who has not watched the film.  In the Gilda example, for people who have not seen the movie, she is a seductive singer performing her act.  For those who have watched the movie, the scene takes on a new meaning.  Gilda is trying to humiliate her husband and is doing a good job of it.  

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So much could be done sexually through music in those days.  You could go through every level of sexuality with your body, eyes, movement, suggestion, as long as you were dancing or singing.  Her eyes told everything, her body movements.

 

She was teasing Johnny, driving him insane.  This love/hate thing they had going...crazy on so many levels.  They were both so immature, willing to things physically to each other, insult, slap, but not to be intimate, that they were afraid to share with each other.

 

The whole movie was one big foreplay, in my opinion.  They finally realized at the end that they couldn't play anymore, it was now or never. 

 

She was lovely, looks like she had fun making that scene.

 

Great movie, of course.

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I read a lot of the posts and decided to watch the clip again :)  to see if I could read anything into her movements, and here's what I came up with.  Gilda knows her actions are not without risk, and exposing her neck at the 1:16 point is perhaps a way of showing that she's risking her neck.  Removing her necklace and tossing it to the crowd is the most obvious to me.  She's showing that she's off the leash, and she's not going to be controlled.  What do you think; am I trying too hard?

 

BTW, the part I love the most is very brief and occurs early in the clip at 0.48.  She's just smiled at guy sitting at a table, but look at the expression she gives the gal sitting at the table with him.

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Rita’s performance was designed to entice the crowd and licit a response from the Glen Ford character. I disagree that the character was drunk I think she was acting drunk to make her appear more available to the crowd. I base this on the interchange with Ford’s character where she isn’t slurring her words.

The character’s choice of song conveys women are the downfall of men. They are trouble. Women use their “wilds” to seduce and destroy (as in the Frisco Quake). Music is and effective conveyance around the Film Code, it can use lyrics and sound to convey subtle meaning. From Rita’s song we may form the opinion that she is a **** without the censor catching on

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I may have a minority opinion on this, but Rita Hayworth looks like she's drunk or stoned in this dance scene, flopping around and stomping about in an ungraceful manner with her arms splayed out awkwardly. To me she is anything but alluring in this scene. That said, I guess drunk/stoned exhibitionist is probably what was drawing the men out of the woodwork, and her uninhibited behavior is probably what really **** her man off. 

 

I have an alternate take on this movie as a whole: Johnny and Ballin are the love birds, and Gilda is the odd man out if you will. Watch how the two men react to one another and the subtle undertones are unmistakeable. Johnny wants nothing to do with Gilda once he marries her...??? Its all to get back at Ballin. 

 

Now: what does this have to do with the noir sensibility? Well, she is bad and her badness controls the men around her? She uses herself to achieve her designated ends? Alternatively, she is desperate for male attention as she is competing with Ballin for Johnny's attention, such that any kind of lurid attention will do and this desperation will drive the course of the movie? Probably.

So, like true sado-masochists, they walk off arm in arm at the end.  Gilda and Johnny that is.

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I have seen the movie "Gilda" several times. Viewing just this scene while just focusing on the dance and how it affects other characters was really interesting to me. This dance is a  way to give Hayworth's character another dimension that dialogue or other action can't convey. When she is dancing (like others have said very clumsily) it is an expression of her frustration of wanting to get 'out of the box' that she has been put in. She does want to attract attention, but I don't think it is the attention of the customers, but of Ford's character, "Johnny".

yes, i agree.. she just wants to get him all riled up and he does just that! but the outcome was not what she wanted... 

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Rita Hayworth's performance is very burlesque-inspired, which becomes very apparent when she starts removing her clothing at the end. While it may be clumsy, that in itself can lead to the question of her being a woman of questionable morals when it comes to her sexuality. If she were so "loose" wouldn't she be able to dance the "**** coo" a bit better?

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what a great film, and rita hayworth certainly played the perfect role.

 

her performance was...  well, to be honest it was a bit weird..  at the beginning mostly..  i didn't understand why she was moving like that.. she had her arms out as if she were a monster or on a hanger or something.. her movements were awkward..  some people mentioned she was intoxicated but it sure didn't seem like it when she was talking to johnny..  i could see what she was trying to do though, make him react by being all sexy, and perhaps it worked because a lot of the men were going crazy..  some parts she was dripping with sex appeal - her eyes and flips of her hair.  but a lot of her body language was just strange to me..

johnny clearly was giving her the reaction she wanted, and that was full of electricity as well - when she went too far, he hit her.

  

in the case of this particular film, I think the music's influence supports the femme fatale.  Gilda sure used her body to get what she wanted and the music flowed right along with her.

Generally speaking, the music can play a very powerful role in films noir.. It can help carry and support the film.

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The “Put The Blame on Mame” scene represents most if not all of the important themes in Charles Vidor’s, Gilda (1946).  First and foremost is the power of female sexuality.  In Gilda, men obsess about Gilda (Rita Hayworth).  They lust for her, they want to possess her, they fear her, they need to control her.  And you can see why.   She’s the virtual Fort Knox of female sexuality.  The noir themes in this clip are lust, obsession and misogyny.

 

Poor Gilda.  After she works the crowd into a lather, and then says, “I’m not very good at zippers…Maybe if I had some help” ex-husband, now bodyguard Johnny Farrell (Glen Ford) rushes in to put the muzzle on Gilda who decided to use the show as a means to provoke and or get even with Johnny.  The song is great but it’s really the lyrics that serve to underscore the trouble that Gilda is frequently blamed for.

 

Poor Johnny.  He knows all too well what smolders under that evening gown and it’s driving him nuts.  In this respect, his love/hate relationship with Gilda reminds me of the relationship between Devlin (Cary Grant) and Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) in Alfred Hitchcock’s, Notorious (1946).  Farrell, like Devlin, will have to understand how to stop the condemnation and express true love to insure both films’ happy endings.

 

-Mark

Very well put!

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So, like true sado-masochists, they walk off arm in arm at the end.  Gilda and Johnny that is.

 

Yes,  in many ways they are made for each other.   But one hopes they trade off these roles.  Otherwise one party is going to take too much punishment.  

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In this scene from Gilda, the character is flaunting her sexuality. Not only does she know the audience is eating it up, but she seems to find a kind of freedom in it. Once the man grabs her off the stage and drags her out of the room do we see how much control he has over her. Dancing and singing on stage seems to be her only relief from her abusive relationship. 

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It's the lighting and the soft focus when it goes in for a close-up. The visuals change so drastically. She has this beautiful backlight that highlights her hair which falls effortlessly into place. But the moment is short-lived and the camera goes back to a wider shot. It was just that moment that really caught my attention and could identify with what all the fuss was about.

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Rita Heyworth`s character is coming as close to striptease as was possible in those years. She was a very beautiful woman, in a way it`s a shame the film wasn`t in color. She is exciting her audience, but it is clear that she isn`t experienced at this and she is slightly akward at it. It`s a great scene, wonderfully staged in what  is supposed to be a rather intimate space. the lighting shows us the audience reaction to Gilda. In real life the audience would be much more difficult to see. As a retired stagehand, I have learned the many ways light can also hide a great deal of what is in front of the audience.

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She seemed to be doing a strip tease show for the audience in this scene.  Rita told Johnny that now the whole club knows what she is.  That he married her and there is nothing he can do to get away from what Gilda is.  I assume it means she was either a prostitute, stripper or kept woman.  And since she has been this for most of her adult life, she can't be anything else.  No matter how hard she has tried and Johnny would like to forget.  Also, the deeper meaning could be that Gilda can be had by any man who has the right amount of money to take care of her.  I don't think she intended to become this person, but when the survival instinct kicks in, one will do whatever they have to do.  The music is part of the film from start to finish.  When there is no proper words for a scene, the music will say it for the director.  What would any film genre  be without the sounds that help to make them?  Even the silent films had some sound, and we know them by this music. 

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Wow, wow, wow!  Haven't watched this film in a while, but can one ever get tired Of Rita Hayworth's performance?  The most clothed strip tease I've ever seen, but what pure sexuality.  One is worried Rita might even pop out of her dress in several places.  The way she is framed by the camera in one shot, you would swear (seen out of context) that she wasn't wearing a stitch.  The lyrics of the song portray this sexual energy, as well.  We hear of Mame, a woman whose femininity and sexuality brought down civilizations and slew men...  Talk about a femme-fatale!  As the scene progresses we see the character explain that everyone in the club knows what she really is.  It starts to get a bit darker from there and unfortunately, her female prowess is put into check, but who could ever forget that electric performance?  We know why those convicts in Shawshank went so crazy for Rita and her performance in Gilda.

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Rita Hayworth's performance as Gilda in this scene seems to be about getting attention, as she has the eyes of everyone on her. Everything from Gilda's sultry voice to her first (and the first) cinematic striptease garner the attention of all. While Gilda does put on an encore worthy display, her real intention is luring Johnny. And of course, she succeeds!

 

The lyrics in "Put the Blame on Mame" lay out the entire film of Gilda, while possibly even defining every single film noir. Although presumably vying for the attention of one man in particular, the song tells of how a Femme Fatale lures numerous men and hooks them all. Both the lyrics and the title of the song "Put the Blame on Mame", are literally telling the audience to blame The Femme Fatale. She will be reason the hero will pay the ultimate price of either his freedom or his life.

 

Gilda reels them in effortlessly one by one. Johnny, upstairs doing business, is immediately distracted by Gilda, which inevitably will be his downfall. Dangerous and possibly even deadly, Gilda gets to him every time. Johnny can't quit her, that seductiveness and enticement Gilda possesses is vicious and lethal. She is the true definition of the Femme Fatale in a film noir.

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Rita Hayworth's performance represents a true femme fatale with underlying messages/tones of lust, larceny, obsession, and manipulation. A bursting sense of sexuality is delivered in such a sultry way that it can be connected to other femme fatale characters and is very exemplary of that character role. The camera work is key to this scene as well as the close up shots, lighting, and editing not only showcases her sense of style but also helps identify to the viewers who Gilda is and sheds light on "what she is all about". As for the music sequence itself I believe music has definitely been a key aspect of films noir as it can show mystery, add suspense, and in sequences such as this can be very entertaining in the way that it can showcase characters.

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