Today is International Women’s Day. I wanted to do a little piece about one of my favourite female screen characters. Played superbly by Rita Hayworth, Gilda is a character who once seen, it is very difficult to forget.
In Charles Vidor’s 1946 Noir, a name is called through a bedroom door, and a question posed – “Gilda, are you decent?” The door opens, a head raises and hair is flicked back; then comes that unforgettable response “Me?”
From that first moment she flicks back her hair, Rita Hayworth’s Gilda makes it impossible to focus on anyone else in that film from that moment on. I consider it to be one of the greatest ever character entrances on film.
The sensual and sexy Gilda is the character Rita Hayworth will always be best remembered for. The object of desire and jealousy for George Macready’s crime boss and Glenn Ford’s jealousy riddled henchman.
Gilda only has to enter a room and trouble starts, she can’t help it though because she is a naturally stunning woman, but you do get the sense that she is aware of the effect she has and is somewhat annoyed by it. People don’t see her for who she is inside, but more for her outer appearance and the idea they form of her from that. It’s a credit to Rita that she can bring that across and make the character more substantial that she perhaps could have ended up being.
I think that her character shows the struggles that beautiful women can face. Instead of being valued for their characters and minds, their looks are what are often focused on more.
Has there ever been a more iconic character than Gilda? That hair, that attitude, that black dress(I demand the secret as to how that thing even stayed up!) For 1940’s audiences Gilda surely must have been perceived as a very risqué character; her introduction and glove striptease remain as daring and unforgettable today, as they were upon release.
Why do I like Gilda so much? She comes across as being someone who it would be fun to know, very open and very free. She always seems in control(even when she actually isn’t)her body and sexuality is her defense, when necessary she uses them to make a point (that dance,the way she walks etc)she owns herself and lets everyone know that. She has a heart, she can be hurt, but she learns to hide that and learns to project a certain image to the world(sometimes in life that façade is unfortunately very necessary.) She is a strong woman, she is a survivor, and she has an inner strength that is admirable.
As that saying goes “there never was a woman like Gilda”.
Please share your thoughts on Gilda. Who are your favourite female film characters?