[Editor's Note: While Magic Mike is in theaters we're revisiting memorable stripteases. Here's Jose to talk Gilda.]
When I was thirteen, I found Madonna's SEX on eBay and bought it. Upon its arrival I showed my new prized possession to everyone including my father who for a while seemed enthralled by the Queen. Upon finishing leafing through the book he came over to me and quoted something he'd said to me many times before and it was this: "I'd rather have a fully clothed Rita Hayworth than a naked Madonna".
I dismissed him. But then a few years later I watched Gilda.
This sexy noir from 1946 has Glenn Ford playing a gambler who perpetuates the classic Hollywood curse that the more you want to run away from someone, the more you'll run into them. His life becomes a living hell when he runs into his ex-lover, the title femme fatale played by Hayworth. The movie mostly concentrates on having them despise and then love each other and along with evil Germans, fake deaths and shocking twists, makes this a truly unmissable event.
However the film is mostly remembered for being Hayworth's pièce de résistance and especially for her outstanding song numbers including her performance of "Put the Blame on Mame"
The song arrives near the film's finale and makes a case for the entire movie itself being a sensuously thought out striptease -- after all, Gilda herself doesn't show up until 20 minutes in -- which is gearing towards an explosive reveal.
The song was written by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher for the movie (It missed an Oscar nomination in the eternally problematic Original Song category) and relies on a clever rhyme game to encompass the dangerous sexuality exuded by Gilda. From the moment this number starts you know you're in for a treat. I remember knowing nothing about what was about to hit me. My jaw fell to the floor as Hayworth walked onto the stage dressed in a lavish black satin gown designed by the famous Jean Louis. She jumps right into the song. Watching it as a sexually confused teenager I couldn't help but wonder what the hell my hormones were doing to me so I tried to rationalize it.
Growing up whenever I was asked why I liked a certain girl - even if I didn't - I always replied, "it must be the hair" in order to fit what was expected of me. So watching Rita I said to myself "yes, it must be the hair".
How could it not be, right?
Things got more confusing when Rita proceeded to dispose of one of her long opera gloves. In one of those moments of undeniable sexual provocation that would've made Freud himself lose all mental clarity, she strokes and strokes her glove and fools us into thinking there is more to come. I suddenly found myself short of breath with a special tingling that until then had been reserved for shirtless soccer players and boy-band members.
Just what the hell was this woman doing to me?
And then, just like something out of a dream, it was all over. The audience bursts into applause and the she-devil winks and bows.
The second the scene was over, I found myself rewinding the tape over and over again trying to figure out how this sixty year-old scene had been able to stimulate me in such mysterious ways. Suddenly everything my father said made sense and I understood that sensuality was not easy to come by, much less maintain. To this day whenever I watch this scene, I still feel it. I've never so much as kissed a girl in real life, but my mind takes me to strange places wishing I was Glenn Ford, Orson Welles or Prince Aly Khan. Whenever the horns begin to blow and Rita walks on stage, I know that old mother nature will be up to her old tricks once again.
Don't believe me? Watch for yourselves: