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It is quite all right to make a character elusive and enigmatic in a filmthat can be highly provocativeproviding some terminal light is shed. But when one is conceived so vaguely and with such perplexing lack of motive point as is the dame played by Rita Hayworth in "Gilda," the Music Hall's new film, one may be reasonably forgiven for wondering just what she's meant to prove, for questioning, indeed, the whole drama in which she is set. And that is what we frankly do.

Despite close and earnest attention to this nigh-onto-two-hour film, this reviewer was utterly baffled by what happened on the screen. To our average register of reasoning, it simply did not make sense. It seems that a fantastic female, the pivotal character in this film, turns up in a Buenos Aires casino as the wife of the dour proprietor. But it also seems that she was previously the sweetie of a caustic young man who is quite a hand at gambling and is employed by this same proprietor. For reasons which are guardedly suggested, she taunts and torments this tough lad until, by a twist of circumstances, her husband is suddenly removed. Then she marries the laddie but continues to fight with him because of some curious disposition which is never properly explained. In the end, after certain vagrant incidents, they are reconciledbut don't ask us why.

In and out of this moody love story is drawn a vaporous thread of plot which involves the casino proprietor in some sort of Nazi cartel. The details are so mysterious and so foggily laced through the film that they serve no artistic purpose, other than to confuse things still more. Indeed, one is likely to wonder whether the waters of this expensive film have not been deliberately muddied in order to disguise its shallowness.

Miss Hayworth, who plays in this picture her first straight dramatic role, gives little evidence of a talent that should be commended or encouraged. She wears many gowns of shimmering luster and tosses her tawny hair in glamourous style, but her manner of playing a worldly woman is distinctly five-and-dime. A couple of times she sings song numbers, with little distinction, be is said, and wiggles through a few dances that are nothing short of crude.

Glenn Ford, just returned from war service, shows, at least, a certain stamina and poise in the role of the tough young gambler, but his is a thankless role. And George Macready is icy and unbending as the Germanic casino proprietor. Joseph Calleia wanders darkly through the picture as a mystifying agent of police and Steven Geray acts mildly philosophic as an attendant with a whiskbroom and white coat.

Charles Vidor, who directed; Virginia Van Upp, who produced for Columbia, and a trio of writers deserve no credit at all. They made out of "Gilda" a slow, opaque, unexciting film. As one of the characters comments, "It's the most curious love-hate pattern I've ever seen." prises and occasionally is overburdened with dialogue, but it is always tender, lucid and entertaining.

Sir Alexander Korda, who produced and directed, has, as his drab duo, Robert and Catherine Wilson, a young but stuffy Milquetoast of a bookkeeper and his equally mousy wife. With the aid of a script intelligently fashioned by Clemence Dane and Anthony Pelissier, the pair are taken from a humdrum, methodical and palling union to the exciting realities of the services. As a sailor, Robert loses his mustache, his bumbling manner and his wheeze and even sows a wild oat. As a Wren, the wife loses her perennial sniffles, her dowdy hairdo and attire, acquires an admirer and the temperate habits of lipstick, gin and dancing. This change of venue, indeed, does more, convincing the two of the impossibility of returning to the old, dull flat and even duller life. Their final meeting, after a three-year separation, is not, however, a dolorous ending but fays neatly and charmingly into the simple and leisurely story.

Robert Donat, long absent from American screens, and Deborah Kerr, seen hereabouts in "Colonel Blimp," are excellent as the principals, who find that love, like devastated London, can be rebuilt. Glynis John, as Miss Kerr's Wren friend; Ann Todd, as a sympathetic nurse; Caven Watson, as Donat's shipmate, and Roland Culver give solid performances in the top featured roles. And, through Sir Alexander's direction, "Vacation From Marriage" tells an oft-told tale but tells it easily and well.
Date Added: 04/30/2013 by kakacho
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