skygiants: Mae West (model lady)
[personal profile] skygiants
I'm not sure the people who made Gilda actally knew they were writing the most dramatic equilateral bisexual love triangle in forties noir, but that's .... definitely what they did?

Gilda starts out with Johnny, a young American gambler, getting rescued from a mugging by Ballin, a dapper silver fox with a phallic symbol sword-cane.

JOHNNY: A cane like that is handy.
BALLIN: It is a faithful friend. Mostly silent, but talks when I need it to.
JOHNNY: That's your idea of a friend? You must lead a gay life!

(All italicized dialogue is stuff that a.) I am quoting straight from the movie and b.) made [personal profile] sovay and me turn to stare at each other like "REALLY??")

Ballin suggests Johnny get himself dressed up fancy and check out a local casino; Johnny promptly attempts to cheat the casino; Ballin, of course, turns out to own the casino. Johnny's like, I would like for you to have two friends, and I would like for me to be one of them, it is A-OK with me if your sword-cane is the other one. >:]

BALLIN: I must be sure there's no woman in the picture.
JOHNNY: Get this: I was born last night, when we met in the alley.

And for a while Johnny and Ballin and the sword-cane are very happy together --

BALLIN: You're sharp. Almost as sharp as my other friend, but not quite so obedient. My other friend would kill or me.
JOHNNY: That's what friends are for.
BALLIN: To us, Johnny. To the three of us.

-- until Ballin goes on vacation and comes back with: A WIFE! aka the titular Gilda.

JUDGY CASINO COWORKER: One hears she is very beautiful. And young, and American. You also are young and American.

Johnny's like, YES I'M AWARE BALLIN SEEMS TO HAVE A TYPE. >:[ >:[ >:[

Ballin appears to be mostly just confused about why his wife and his special friend don't seem to get along, like, why wouldn't they get along? THERE CAN BE NO POSSIBLE REASON.

BALLIN: Let's drink to the three of us. ... what's the matter, Johnny?
JOHNNY, SULKIEST IN THE WORLD: I get confused. Just a few weeks ago we drank to the three of us.

And last time the third party in the threesome was a phallic symbol and Johnny was so much happier!

Anyway soon enough it turns out that, adding insult to injury, Gilda is Johnny's ex and they had an extremely bad breakup. They spend the next half hour sniping at each other in corners and hissing about how much they hate each other. Gilda flirts with other men; Johnny covers up for her to Ballin, and yells at her about she had better not hurt him; Gilda's like, "Don't kid yourself that this is all about Ballin, Johnny!" and Johnny's like "UH ACTUALLY I THOUGHT I HAD MADE IT QUITE CLEAR THAT IT IS VERY MUCH ALL ABOUT BALLIN."

...and then Ballin has a conversation with Gilda in which he explains that he is actually super into being the focal point of an emotional triangle between two people who hate each other??

BALLIN: Hate can be an exciting emotion. There is a heat in it one can feel. Didn't you feel it tonight? It warmed me. Hate is the only thing that has ever warmed me.

ALSO at around this point a plot rears its head about how Ballin runs a secret tungsten cabal that he stole from angry Germans and plans to rule the world via chemical monopoly???

But Johnny doesn't care! He just wants to protect Ballin! He trusts him, he believes in him! He'll sacrifice his own happiness for him! At this point, Johnny is earnestly competing with Gilda for the role of Gothic heroine.

Unluckily for Johnny, Gilda is actually hanging out in the OTHER kind of Gothic where the sinister silver fox you impulsively marry is the villain instead of the love interest, and is starting to be like "maybe I ... shouldn't have married a man who runs a secret tungsten cabal on the rebound on one night's notice? In retrospect, that might have been a bad plan."

Anyway all of this comes to a head at a masquerade ball, when Gilda disappears, and Ballin murders a guy on account of the secret tungsten cabal, and Johnny brings Gilda home, and Gilda's like "Johnny I am basically just sticking around here at this point for the inevitable hatesex, why has that not happened yet," and Johnny's like "BECAUSE I WANT TO KICK YOU OUT OF THIS RELATIONSHIP SO I CAN LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER WITH BALLIN IS WHY."

JOHNNY: I knew all his dreams of greatness would be wrecked because of her. He wasn't strong enough to throw her out. I had to do it for him.

However in the process of attempting to throw her out he ends up accidentally making out with her after all, and it as this point that the movie takes ... a turn .....

So Ballin walks in on Johnny and Gilda having an angry makeout session. MYSTERIOUSLY -- since up until this point Ballin seems to have been A-OK with the notion of having a hot wife and a hot right-hand-man who hate each other in his bedroom -- Ballin promptly turns around and fakes his own death in a plane crash!

Gilda's like, great, the Gothic villain is dead and I can marry my true love, who was Johnny all the time! :D

At this point the Gothic novel shifts around and Johnny becomes the Gothic antihero (and, as [personal profile] sovay says, he is TERRIBLE at it.)

Johnny revenge-marries Gilda, buys a fancy new apartment with a GIANT PICTURE of Ballin on the wall, then disappears IMMEDIATELY after the ceremony. After this, he starts living in the casino, refuses to speak to her, and hires a guy to beat up anybody else that Gilda flirts with.

JOHNNY: She wasn't faithful before, but she would be, now that he was dead!

Understandably, Gilda gets sick of this pretty soon and leaves town. Johnny HIRES A FAKE LAWYER to pretend to be in love with Gilda and get her to come BACK to town by convincing her that she can get an annulment for their unconsummated marriage! just so Johnny can dramatically reappear and be like LOLOLOL GOTCHA.

Gilda, at this point, is just like "WTF IS THIS EVEN, WHY IS MY LIFE," and RIGHTLY SO. All Gilda wanted was some good old-fashioned hatesex! She didn't ask for this!

Also because of Ballin's presumed death Johnny is now the head of the secret Tungsten cabal?? This poor police officer keeps showing up to get Johnny to give up and hand over the names of his secret cabal friends and then being like 'dude I am threatening to arrest you for secret world-controlling cabal activities and you're not even LISTENING to me because you are so busy with your messed-up personal life.'

Anyway, in the last five minutes of the movie:
- the police officer turns out to be a romantic and is like 'great, thanks for being too emotionally messed up to effectively run a secret tungsten cabal, now you two kids should work it out!'
(POLICE OFFICER: I'm a great cop, and a pushover for a love story.
[personal profile] sovay AND I: Were you ... not there when Johnny hired a FAKE LAWYER to seduce Gilda for him?? Because we BOTH FEEL LIKE THAT'S CROSSING A LINE SOMEWHERE')
- Ballin returns from the dead and attempts to symbolically stab Johnny and Gilda with his symbolic sword-cane!
- but somebody shoots him, I honestly couldn't tell if it was Johnny or Judgy Casino Coworker!
- but the police officer who is literally there for the WHOLE THING is like 'eh, bygones!'
- and Johnny and Gilda go back to America to live happily ever after??

[personal profile] sovay: Well, that was a lower body count than I was expecting.
ME: Yes, of all the noirs I've seen, I was not expecting this one to be the one with the happy heterosexual ending?

Date: 2016-08-25 04:41 am (UTC)
sovay: (Jonathan & Dr. Einstein)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I am here to vouch for all this dialogue and the ending which neither of us saw coming because why would anybody who watched the first half of this movie see a happy heterosexual ending coming.

According to a footnote in Richard Dyer's The Matter of Images: Essays on Representations (1993), updating a previously published citation: "There is external evidence to suggest that the gayness of the Ballen–Johnny relationship was deliberate. 'According to Ford, the homosexual angle was obvious to them at the time: they could see the implication in the relationship between the men in the early part of the film—nothing stated, just mood . . .'" So, good! What the hell, that ending, nonetheless. I was really rooting for those three crazy kids to make it.

[edit] but somebody shoots him, I honestly couldn't tell if it was Johnny or Judgy Casino Coworker!

It was, as they say, really unclear.
Edited (second edit based on more recent citation) Date: 2016-08-25 06:11 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-08-25 12:39 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
It's very.....Vidor. My parents liked a lot of his movies. He made a really weird one about Chopin as well.

Date: 2016-08-27 05:34 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey)
From: [personal profile] sovay
It's really a shame about Ballin's temporary bout of inexplicable monogamous heterosexual rage.

Maybe he was hurt they started the hatesex without him.

Date: 2016-08-25 07:43 am (UTC)
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
From: [personal profile] onyxlynx
I had wondered...

Date: 2016-08-27 08:47 pm (UTC)
onyxlynx: The words "Onyx" and "Lynx" with x superimposed (Default)
From: [personal profile] onyxlynx
Heh. Saw it a few years ago (in a theater!) and was bemused.

Date: 2016-08-25 11:07 am (UTC)
misbegotten: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (Movies Bogart & Bacall)
From: [personal profile] misbegotten
My theory has always been that they knew exactly what they were doing. But that the censors didn't. ;)

There NEVER was a woman like Gilda!

Date: 2016-08-25 12:35 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
Aaahahaha, oh, Gilda. One of my dad's favourite movies -- he adored Rita Hayworth and sat through You Were Never Lovelier twelve times in the theatre. I am pretty sure that Judgey Casino Coworker (the Hungarian Istvàn Gyergyay! Or rather, Steven Geray) is the one who kills Ballin. It's a very....Vidor kind of film. (My mom worked with him in Hollywood when she did the piano bits on the soundtrack for his version of A Farewell to Arms, AKA the One Without Gary Cooper In.) Contemporary reviewers were also baffled It's such a fucked-up movie. And then, HAPPY ENDING!

'Given the degree of noxiousness and perversity on display, it’s genuinely bizarre that Gilda ultimately turns out to be the rare film noir with a happy ending.' - AV Club

Also, they tell me, Rita Hayworth's strapless black dress has its own Wiki page (Poor Hayworth was wearing not only a corset but a HARNESS under it)

For me the best thing about That Musical Number is how she teeeeases off one long glove and then plays with it for nearly the rest of the song, and strips off the other one right at the end. Whoever made that happen was a genius.

She really was an amazing dancer:

Re: There NEVER was a woman like Gilda!

Date: 2016-08-27 04:21 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
I had to look it up but I think so! By Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher it says, and Fisher was known as "The Queen of the Juke Box" and wrote "You Always Hurt the One You Love", "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall", "That Ole Devil Called Love" among other songs, but gave it up when she had kids apparently.

The song was later reprised as an instrumental version in another quintessential noir film, 1953's The Big Heat, when Gilda star Glenn Ford first meets Lee Marvin's character in a bar.


Re: There NEVER was a woman like Gilda!

Date: 2016-08-27 04:33 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
Aww, apparently she is singing in the acoustic guitar scene (and playing the guitar). That's nice. It's actually one of my favourite scenes in the film, at least until Mister Hateful ruins it.

Re: There NEVER was a woman like Gilda!

Date: 2016-08-29 10:44 pm (UTC)
jinian: (sharp dressed woman)
From: [personal profile] jinian
Hayworth was wearing not only a corset but a HARNESS under it

I now have a mental image that's making me very happy but was probably not what you intended.

Though, I mean, given the movie as described...

Date: 2016-08-25 01:33 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
I love this movie exactly for the reasons you mention in your wonderful and LOLarious review.

Date: 2016-08-26 04:00 am (UTC)
hokuton_punch: Text icon reading "I never wanted these strange powers of fucking common sense, all right?" (kurosagi cds sasayama)
From: [personal profile] hokuton_punch
Ahh, I love that movie and desire ALL the hatesex threesome fic. WHY IS THERE NOT MORE THREESOME HATESEX FIC. D: And the ending is so weird and tacked-on, although I am glad enough that Gilda survives!

Date: 2016-08-26 05:12 am (UTC)
misslucyjane: poetry by hafiz (Default)
From: [personal profile] misslucyjane
I am adding this to my Next list right now.

So many classic movies, so little time.

Date: 2016-08-26 09:28 am (UTC)
fahye: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fahye
See, what I'm hearing is 'let's make this a Yuletide fandom and write threesomes'.

Date: 2016-08-26 06:33 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
From: [personal profile] sovay
See, what I'm hearing is 'let's make this a Yuletide fandom and write threesomes'.


Date: 2016-08-26 11:29 am (UTC)
littlerhymes: (marlowe)
From: [personal profile] littlerhymes
A+ summary. This movie was so formative for me, lol.

Date: 2016-09-03 02:46 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore




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