November 16, 2010

Gilda (1946)

Now those of you who have been following this little blog know that I rarely post any screencaps from black & white films and I made that decision a long time ago because I thought the monochromaticism would render the details [in both the costumes and set pieces] difficult to see and thus, would not be very useful to you all. Well, I'm not sure why I stuck to the notion that b+w wouldn't interest my readers because there is TONS of great inspiration in these pictures so from now on, I will definitely start posting more from these kinds of films! And at the very least, perhaps just by looking at the images, those of you who have not seen the films might be encouraged to seek them out and if I can get only just a few more people interested in old classic b+w movies, then I can rest better at night knowing that I'm doing my part in bringing back these wonderful forgotten gems into the consciousness of the viewing public. :)

So let's start with Gilda (1946), a thrilling love story directed by Charles Vidor and starring the radiant Rita Hayworth and the legendary Glenn Ford. The story opens in Argentina and follows Johnny (Ford) as a down-and-out gambler who is saved from a gunman by feared casino boss Ballin (George Macready). Johnny owes Ballin for getting him back on his feet and shows his gratitude by eventually becoming Ballin's loyal right-hand man. All is well and good until Ballin comes back from a trip one day with a new wife - Gilda (Hayworth), who turns out was Johnny's ex-girlfriend. Hello, tension!

"Let me introduce you to my new wife, Gilda."

Oh crap.

Check out that night-gown.

Johnny and Gilda have what can be described as the classic "love-hate" relationship. We don't know much about their past together but we can tell that it was intense and passionate and most of all, troubled. Ballin entrusts Gilda into Johnny's care, which causes Johnny quite a bit of grief since he becomes torn between his respect and loyalty to Ballin and his undeniable residual attraction to Gilda. Meanwhile, Gilda tries to make Johnny's job miserable out of spite by gallivanting across town with a series of bachelors and singing/dancing at nightclubs. And the rest of the story involves a nice string of arguments, face-slapping, corrupt business dealings, and murder (but I won't tell you whose!)

Hmm, stockings. Always sexy.

The costume designer for this film was the Jean Louis whose creation of this famed black gown (below) propelled his career to skyrocketing new heights in the industry. He eventually also married Loretta Young.

This gown is one of the most well-known pieces in film history.

Lovely white coat. Women should "drape" coats on their shoulders more often, methinks. It just looks so chic.

Wearing your fur coat over just one shoulder was also popular.

Interesting how this style of strapless dress with the gathered bust remains a timeless classic even to this day. 

Fantastic glittering metallic sequined coat.

It would be too loud to wear a full-length version of this glittering coat nowadays but I see lots of women wear short or cropped sequined jackets.


This is an amazing grecian-inspired gown. It just so perfectly tailored to her body.


More sequins! I love the cut of this dress. In my mind, I imagined the body to be an ivory color and the trims, gold.


It was rumored that Rita Hayworth sang all the songs heard in the film but unfortunately that was later noted to be false. She was just great at lip-synching.



I love the matching belt and wristband. Sort of gladiator-esque.

I think the webbing detail is very interesting but I'm not a fan of the "two-tone busts."

Here again we see a similar gown with a two-toned bust. I think the two-tone bust idea is fine if the colors are carried out down the rest of the dress but otherwise it looks a bit awkward to me...


Pin-striped suit dress.

sheer white blouse

same sheer white blouse with a gigantic rhinestone belt

Anyway, Gilda is a great film that I think everyone should see. I hope you enjoyed these screencaps and let me know if you think including b+w films in this blog is a good idea!

Oh Rita, you are just perfection!


Love Gilda wardrobe. Every item that shines drives me crazy. I also love the Cracks screencaps. Remind me of the Enid Blyton boarding schools books. It´s true there are not many films located in girls boarding schools, Picnic in Hanging Rock is the only one that cames to my mind just now.

Great post! I've never seen this movie before, but I just added it to my Netflix queue. I didn't mind the black and white photos at all, but it really makes you wish they would have just shot the film in color! And I LOVE that long sequin jacket! You're right, I don't think anyone could pull it off today...oh, to live in that time!

Some amazing wardrobe in this movie - by this alone you have convinced me to see the movie! Also, that super-wide vanity you opened die for.

Also, Rita Hayworth was pregnant while filming this movie. Which is amazing since I saw the black dress up close just a few months ago and she was TINY.

Fantastic shots...of a beautiful Rita and handsome Glen. By all means include black and white...not all great films were in color (unfortunately).

@Colleen - I know! I always think the same thing for sooo many films.

@Kathy - Yay! I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

@Isaspacey - Whoa, Rita was pregnant during filming? And oh my god, you saw the dress in person?! Where? I'm so jealous!

@Sandy - Thanks, I will definitely include more b+w films from now on. :D

@Alexandra - Thanks! I know, I love shiny things too. But I can only admire them on other people. If I ever wear anything shiny, I'd end up looking like a misplaced tree ornament. I haven't read any of the Enid Blyton boarding school books so I'll have to check them out. And oh yeah, Picnic in Hanging Rock is in queue already! I've been meaning to see that film for ages!

I was fortunate to attend a showing of Hollywood costumes in PA in September. Check out this post on my blog.

OMG thank you soo much for posting all these great pics.. I'm doing a project for class & was having a hell of a time trying to find good pics of Gilda's various gorgeous costumes. Thanx!!

It's nice to know that the iconic black Gilda dress is on exhibition. Demi Moore once wore it to a Planet Hollywood opening (She & her then husband Bruce Willis were investors) and I remember thinking that the dress needs to be preserved for generations to come and not worn like a disposable dress. Jean Louis put plastic in the upper part of the dress, this is why it doesn't move when she dances with her arms flailing.

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