Day 08: A Movie that Makes You Sad

The film I’m choosing for this prompt is not a sad film, per se. It actually ends “happily.” It’s fascinating for its queer elements as well as one of the most feminist musical numbers in film. And I’ve written about it time and time again. Nevertheless, this film makes me quite sad indeed, both for its content and its production context.

GILDA (1946)


Is it possible to know the biography of Rita Hayworth and not be sad when watching Gilda? I don’t think so. The combination of sex appeal, brashness, and energy coupled with a youth of abuse and exploitation is so painful to witness. Her Hollywood transformation and de-ethnicization is awful. And Hayword claimed men would desire Gilda, only to find themselves with shy homebody Margarita Carmen Cansino (her real name). Then there’s her roller-coaster ride of a marriage to Orson Welles. Nuff said.

The film itself is sad as well. The torture Gilda puts herself through is so masochistic, and Johnny’s abuse makes it torture. In the film, the pair (Hayworth and Ford) may say they are equally to blame for their suffering, but I never feel that way as a viewer. Nor do I buy their reconciliation, which feels entirely slapped onto the ending of what should be (and is) a terrible tragedy. Nonetheless, I love the film and every moment of watching Hayworth. She’s mesmerizing, and I feel sometimes I am part of making her suffer just by watching her. And that’s beyond sad.

I can’t quit you, Gilda.