Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

People we like: Glenn or Gilda ?

I had Glenn Ford pegged as one of those new post-war guys who came along after World War II - like Peck, Lancaster, Douglas, Mitchum - but, like his pal William Holden, Ford stole a march on them as he and Holden were in movies by the late 1930s - by 1946 Ford, after a busy time in genre movies, had worked his way up to co-starring with not one but two Bette Davis sisters in A STOLEN LIFE - then, came GILDA !

GILDA is a noir riot now - a fusion of sexual heat, jealousy, fear and hatred - terrific stuff!
Johnny Farrell is a gambling cheat who turns straight to work for sinister casino owner Ballin Mundson. But things take a turn for Johnny as his alluring ex-lover Gilda, whom he has come to hate, appears as Mundson's wife, and Mundson's machinations begin to unravel.
Ford's Johnny Farrell comes over like a sleazy punk on the make, down Argentina way, as he falls in with nightclub owner and racketeer George Macready - the two men seem to have an odd almost homoerotic relationship, and then Mundsen returns from a trip with his new wife: Gilda, an old flame of Farrell's and the sexual tensions build up, to that delirious climax. Rita is in her element here, and Glenn matches her all the way. It remains a key film noir set in that mythical 1940s world of nighclubs and casinos.

Ford has always been a person we like here, amiable (usually), unassuming, keeping busy shifting effortlessly between dramas, westerns, comedies - looking equally at home in a suit, military outfits or cowboy gear - but not in a toga or tights, like Bogart he just looked too modern for period films.  He seems curiously under-appreciated now, usually ignored by the fan mags, but was a busy actor right through the Fifties and into the mid-Sixties - and was effective as an ordindary, everyday hero.

Lang's THE  BIG HEAT in '53 and Brooks' THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE in 1955 were two of the major dramas of the era, as well as more routine items like TRIAL, RANSOM, and the romantic INTERRUPTED MELODY. He and Gloria Graham were also back with Fritz Lang for HUMAN DESIRE in '54. His westerns included THE AMERICANO, JUBAL, THE VIOLENT MEN, 3.10 TO YUMA, COWBOY, THE SHEEPMAN, CIMARRON in 1960, and then there were comedies like TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON (with Brando playing Japanese), two with Debbie Reynolds: THE GAZEBO and I remember IT STARTED WITH A KISS  being very funny.  He continued into the Sixties with two for Minnelli: the 1962 odd re-working of THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE and the charming THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER in 1963. He was effective as the FBI agent in Blake Edwards' EXPERIMENT IN TERROR with Lee Remick, also 1962 - see Ford label, and the 1964 airline crash drama FATE IS THE HUNTER.  He was re-united with Bette Davis too (in a supporting role this time) in Capra's schmaltz-fest A POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES in 1961, before BABY JANE revived her career.  
I did not get a chance to see Delbert Mann's DEAR HEART in 1964, it played the lower half of double bills here, but it seems well regarded, with Geraldine Page and Angela Lansbury. (I've just had to order it ....). Ford's later westerns like THE ROUNDERS also ended up as the lower part of double features.  There were also several more with Rita Hayworth, though not quite in the GILDA class: AFFAIR IN TRINIDAD, THE LOVES OF CARMEN, and THE MONEY TRAP in 1965 - poor Rita did not last long in that one.  

Ford (1916-2006) lived to be 90, had a long career, with over 100 credits - his last major role being Superman's earth father in SUPERMAN in '78. His first wife was dancer Eleanor Powell and it seems he romanced a lot of hollywood ladies .... and was a decorated war hero too - receiving the French Legion of Honour medal.
Next: The Hardy boy .... and then "Mitchell Leisen - Hollywood Director"


  1. Gilda is one of my absolute favorite films of all time. It ranks among the very best film noir, along with Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity...and Glenn Ford carries the picture. He is the perfect handsome anti-hero, long before James Dean, Marlon and Monty.

  2. Indeed - its up there with Double Indemnity, Laura, Mildred Pierce, Postman Always Rings Twice etc. and is still a delirious treat now.

  3. Hope you'll love Dear Heart. It's a film full of low key charms and nice observations about two lonely people slowly discovering each other, and what a supporting cast of great character actors and especially actresses!