There has never been a thorough way of stamping down individuality and strength. Even during society’s most oppressive states, humans have found ways of expressing themselves through one way or another, even if not always in the most obvious form. Sometimes, though, these assertions of self are so incredibly in plain view that they become easy to entirely overlook, as is the case with the role fashion has played in solidifying female identity in film. Long dismissed as mere cosmetics and playing dress-up, women’s cinematic fashions have nevertheless inspired far-reaching cultural trends by reflecting or encouraging resilience.
A protagonist’s introduction on screen often plays an essential role in not only the character’s journey, but in cementing a film’s legacy. Iconic cinematic introductions range from Indiana Jones retrieving the golden idol (and being chased by the rolling boulder) to Vito Corleone taking meetings on the day of his daughter’s wedding. Audience members forever remember these characters, often through the way they are introduced to us on screen. Gilda exemplifies this statement in 1946’s eponymous film noir. Hayworth’s famous introduction is not only iconic to the film’s legacy, but also to the classic character trope of the femme fatale.
by Jason Haas
Gilda is a strange movie, and an unlikely classic. Artistically, it is no failure, but it is also far from an unqualified success. It is often mentioned in the company of the most famous film noir pictures, but it manages only to borrow from the genre without having many of the classic elements of noir. Instead, the movie turns on the personality and star-power mega-wattage of Rita Hayworth. Columbia boss Harry Cohn developed the film as a vehicle for this starlet on the rise, and few if any of her other films contributed so notoriously to her fame. While some of the star-vehicle concessions should just have turned Gilda into a passably entertaining film that time forgot, Hayworth does something rare â€“ she earns the attention the camera gives her.