Noir Nook: Gilda (1946) Trivia
One of noir’s most twisted love affairs is depicted in Columbia’s Gilda (1946), which stars Rita Hayworth in the title role and Glenn Ford as her former lover. In celebration of the season of love, this month’s Noir Nook is serving up a bouquet of trivia about this classic noir feature.
- The producer for the film was Virginia Van Upp, who worked her way from script reader to Executive Producer of Columbia Pictures. During her career, she also worked as a child actress, screenwriter, film editor, casting director, and agent. She was one of only three women to work as a contract producer for a major Hollywood studio during the 12-year period between 1943 and 1955.
- Glenn Ford bumped heads during filming with the picture’s director, Charles Vidor. According to an interview with former journalist Ron Miller, Ford walked off the movie set when Vidor “berated” some of the film’s extras. Ford told Miller that he refused to return until Vidor apologized. “It took a couple of hours, but he finally did it and the soundman recorded his apology to the extras for me, so I went back to work.”
- In one scene of the film, Rita Hayworth slapped Glenn Ford so hard that she broke two of his teeth.
- Gilda was Ford’s favorite film, according to his son, Peter. “It’s because he was in it with Rita,” Peter Ford said. “They had a very tender, lifelong affection.”
- Surprisingly, although the film was a hit at the box office, not all critics fell in love with the film. The critic for The Hollywood Review referred to the movie’s “hard to follow and often cheaply melodramatic and theatrical story.” Variety’s reviewer judged the picture “trite and frequently far-fetched” and found that Glenn Ford was a “far better actor than the tale permits.”
- George Macready played a featured role as Ballin Mundson, whose close friendship with Ford’s Johnny is fractured when Ballin returns from a business trip with Gilda as his new wife. Macready had a distinctive scar on his right cheek, which was the result of a car accident during his sophomore year at Brown University – he went through the windshield of a Model T Ford when the car hit a telephone pole, according to his son, Michael Macready. “The only doctor for miles around was a veterinarian, who sewed him up,” Michael said, “but he woke up with scarlet fever because the guy hadn’t washed his hands properly.”
- Rita Hayworth performs two musical numbers during the film – Put the Blame on Mame and Amado Mio. For the latter number, Hayworth wore a two-piece gold and white outfit that was sold at auction in 2014 for $161,000.
- Hayworth’s songs in the film were dubbed by Canadian singer Anita Kert Ellis. She also dubbed Hayworth’s singing in Down to Earth (1947), The Loves of Carmen (1948), and The Lady from Shanghai (1948). In 1979, Ellis revealed that she suffered from “crippling” stage fright. “It just stops me cold,” Ellis said. “I don’t sing.” She ended her career less than 10 years later, and she died in 2015 at the age of 95, due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
- The all-seeing, uber-wily police detective, Maurice Obregon, was played by Joseph Calleia. Born Joseph Alexander Caesar Herstall Vincent Calleja in Malta, Calleia was a professional opera singer before becoming an actor. He retired to Malta in 1963; less than 10 years later, he was offered the role of Don Corleone in The Godfather (1972), but he had to decline due to health reasons.
- The famed black satin dress that Hayworth wore for the Put the Blame on Mame number was designed by Jean Louis, who worked as head designer for Columbia from 1944 to 1960. He also designed the gown that Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy in 1962. The following year, Louis married actress Loretta Young, whose wardrobe Louis had designed throughout the eight-year run of TV’s The Loretta Young Show. During his career, Louis was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won for The Solid Gold Cadillac in 1956.
Visit the Noir Nook again for more trivia about your favorite noirs. And let us know which ones you’d like to see in the spotlight!
– Karen Burroughs Hannsberry for Classic Movie Hub
Karen Burroughs Hannsberry is the author of the Shadows and Satin blog, which focuses on movies and performers from the film noir and pre-Code eras, and the editor-in-chief of The Dark Pages, a bimonthly newsletter devoted to all things film noir. Karen is also the author of two books on film noir – Femme Noir: The Bad Girls of Film and Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir. You can follow Karen on Twitter at @TheDarkPages.
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