A wonderful production and a screen version of the excellent homonymous novel written by Karel J. Benes, “A Stolen Life” is another splendid accomplishment of the fine actress Bette Davis. Co-starring the young Glenn Ford, Davis simply steals the show with her impressive performance of the twin sisters who fall in love with the same man. Kate is a talented painter, capable to love and to be generous to others, while Patricia is a selish, very superificial and vivid woman. Kate’s unscrupulous sister marries Bill, but in the end she pays a high price for all her sins, as she is drowned in an accident. Not being able to rescue Patricia’s life, Kate assumes her identity in order to be together with the love of her life. Only in the end the whole truth is discovered. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Effects, Special Effects, but Bette Davis deserved a nomination, as well, because she was simply magnificent in all the scenes in which she makes the transition between two physically similar sisters, but psychologically, very different. You will certainly love this film, another gem in the career of Bette Davis, directed by the gifted, but lesser-known Curtis Bernhardt.
Rita Hayworth shines in a complex and surprising role, of the gypsy Carmen. This movie was co-produced by Hayworth’s own production company and it reunited her with her favourite leading man, Glenn Ford. In spite of its glamorous scenes, “The Loves of Carmen” is a sad film, with a sad ending. But you will certainly LOVE Rita Hayworth’s splendid costumes, designed by Jean Louis, and also her wonderful dancing scenes. Furthermore, the film was directed by the gifted Charles Vidor and it was shot in Technicolor. The colours are simply outstanding and the artistic direction is impressive, too. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography, but in my opinion Rita deserved at least an Oscar nomination for her memorable role. What makes “The Loves of Carmen” even more famous are the publicity stills that capture Rita Hayworth’s beauty almost to perfection. The powerful colours and the background itself are magical. Despite not being a film with a pleasant story, “The Loves of Carmen” worths to be watched at least once in a lifetime, for Rita Hayworth, at least. She was perfect for the role all the way, even if she is a very stylish gypsy lady.
One of the most appreciated and talked-about films noirs in history, Gilda (1946) became the best known film in Rita Hayworth’s career. The character she played here was considered, at its time, the definitive femme fatale, and many people have seen a perfect resemblance between Rita and Gilda. Moreover, this film established a successful partnership between Rita and Glenn Ford, with whom she appeared in other four motion pictures.
“Gilda” is a story about love and hate. The characters come to life so realistically, that one might be tempted to believe that the gambler and, later, the casino manager Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) exists in real life, too. The iconic and ethereal character of the film, who is also the star who dominates the entire plot, is the one and only Gilda. You will get to see some wonderful musical numbers of Rita Hayworth; but the most discussed of all is the controversial “Put the Blame on Mame”, where Rita is stripping off one of her gloves while dancing and singing in a very sexy way. It was a decent, but typical striptease scene – maybe the most famous in the history of classic movies. She also wears for this scene the splendid black strapless dress, designed by Jean Louis.
I might as well mention the sinister character Ballin Mundson, the owner of the casino in South America and Gilda’s husband. George Macready’s performance here reminded me very much of Erich von Stroheim’s performance in “As You Desire Me”, with Greta Garbo.
All in all, I highly recommend you to watch “Gilda”, not just because it is one of the most famous old films in Hollywood, but also because it is a very interesting and a very good production, directed by the gifted Charles Vidor, who also directed other two great films with Rita Hayworth, and that I recommend as well: “Cover Girl” and “The Loves of Carmen”(a production of Rita Hayworth’s own company).