BFI Southbank celebrates ‘The Love Goddess’ with screenings of classic films including Gilda, Cover Girl and You’ll Never Get Rich in June.
Rita Hayworth had a torrid personal life which saw her married and divorced five times by the time she was in her mid-forties, leading her to proclaim “men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me”.
Throughout June, BFI Southbank will present a season of ten of her best-loved films, offering audiences a chance to fall in love not only with Gilda, but Rita and her many characters. If her star power was affirmed through pop-culture references alone, then Hayworth can be considered film royalty: in The Shawshank Redemption inmates went wild over her, in Mullholland Drive Laura Harring’s character named herself after the actress when she suffers from amnesia, and Madonna decreed that ‘Rita Hayworth gave good face’ in her chart-topping hit Vogue.
Classic musicals including You Were Never Lovlier (1942) and Cover Girl (1944) will screen alongside memorable film noir pictures Gilda (1946) and The Lady from Shanghai (1947), all showing, time and again, why Rita Hayworth remains such an iconic star.
Screenings taking place in the season:
Only Angels Have Wings
USA 1939. Dir Howard Hawks. With Cary Grant, Jean Arthur. 121min. U
A hard-bitten Cary Grant is holed up in the Andes running an air-freight service in an almost documentary style, life-and-death Boy’s Own Adventure that’s also a terrific love story of unsentimental camaraderie. Into this feast of character-acting steps big-hearted Jean Arthur. Things grow yet more complicated when young Rita Hayworth vamps her way into the picture that made her name.
Sat 1 June 16:15 NFT1
Fri 14 June 18:10 NFT3
Angels Over Broadway
USA 1940. Dir Ben Hecht. With Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Thomas Mitchell. 78min. U
How many movie styles can you pack into 78 minutes' Written, directed and produced by Ben Hecht, (Nothing Sacred; His Girl Friday; Notorious), this fast-talking, deliciously high-boozing, bitter comedy is also a crime thriller crossed with a backstager, a heartbreaker beneath film noir lighting. Handsome, gum-chewing Douglas Fairbanks inveigles Hayworth’s radiant young dancer into a risky gambling plot masterminded by a gloriously grandiose playwright.
Sun 2 June 16:15 NFT1
Tue 4 June 20:40 NFT2
Blood and Sand
USA 1941. Dir Rouben Mamoulian. With Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell. 125min. PG
Ever wondered what costume design can do for a picture' Shooting in luscious Technicolor, Mamoulian took a tale of a toreador, ensured everyone shone in super-saturated colours, and pitched Tyrone Power into a dilemma between faithful Darnell and temptress Hayworth’s explosive trademark mix of hauteur and come-hither. Gazing at her at a bullfight, Laird Cregar drools, ‘If this is death in the afternoon, she’s death in the evening.’ Fri 7 June 18:20 NFT2
Sun 9 June 16:00 NFT2
You’ll Never Get Rich
USA 1941. Dir Sidney Lanfield. With Fred Astaire, Robert Benchley. 88min. U
This near-screwball musical-comedy of misunderstanding boasts a largely lunatic plot with Astaire joining the army to avoid being shot by showgirl Hayworth’s brother who isn’t her brother. Still with me' Smart Hayworth equals Astaire step for step in their opening routine, delights in a rhumba and winds up duetting with him in a Cole Porter finale on a wedding-cake in the shape of a tank.
Sat 8 June 16:10 NFT3
Tue 11 June 20:40 NFT2
You Were Never Lovelier
USA 1942. Dir William A Seiter. With Fred Astaire, Adolphe Menjou. 97min. U
Hayworth’s second pairing with Astaire – the only film in which anyone fell in love with him because of his voice – is a 30s mistaken-identity comedy in 40s (well-cut) clothing. Latin maestro Xavier Cugat heats up Jerome Kern’s score and highlights include Astaire’s tap solo all over his enraged boss’ office and Hayworth’s joy as she matches him in ‘Shorty George’ and ‘I’m Old-Fashioned’.
Wed 12 June 18:20 NFT2
Sat 15 June 16:00 NFT2
USA 1944. Dir Charles Vidor. With Gene Kelly, Phil Silvers, Eve Arden.107min. U
Loyalty is tested as top-form Hayworth swaps Gene Kelly’s Brooklyn club for Broadway fame via Vanity magazine. Hayworth positively gleams, doubles as her character Rusty’s grandmother and dances like a dream in the sockeroo title number. With Phil Silvers making it an ebullient song’n’dance trio, astringent Eve Arden, Jerome Kern/Ira Gershwin songs and more millinery than you can shake a stick at, it’s the finest musical Hayworth made.
Sun 16 June 16:15 NFT1
Thu 20 June 20:45 NFT1
USA 1946. Dir Charles Vidor. With Glenn Ford, George Macready. 110min. U
Hayworth’s crowning glory is a jaw-dropping textbook of Hollywood sexual politics. Her climactic strip ‘Put The Blame On Mame’ (she removes one glove) is one of the most erotic sequences in cinema history. But it’s also shockingly clear the moment lethal George Macready smoothly picks up Glenn Ford in the thriller’s opening scene that this is one of the gayest straight films ever made. A matchless maelstrom of jealousy.
Fri 21 June 18:30 NFT1
Sat 22 June 20:45 NFT1
The Lady from Shanghai
USA 1947. Dir Orson Welles. With Welles, Everett Sloane. 87min. PG
‘Some people can smell danger. Not me.’ So says Orson Welles in hard-boiled voiceover of femme fatale Hayworth. Columbia slashed over 65 minutes from Welles’ rough-cut, but it proved box-office poison. But the now celebrated noir-thriller has deep-focus cinematography, serious smouldering from paradoxically newly ice-blonde Hayworth and a dazzlingly surreal funhouse/hall of mirrors finale echoed in Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway.
Sun 23 June 16:15 NFT1
Thu 27 June 18:30 NFT1
USA 1957. Dir George Sidney. With Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak. 112min. PG
‘I’ll sing to him, each Spring to him, and worship the trousers that cling to him’ was one of many Rodgers & Hart lyrics deemed too scandalous for Hollywood’s version of their Broadway hit musical. But gains included Sinatra swinging through ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ for the delectation of Hayworth encased in orange fur. Now the classy older woman, she competes with Novak for Sinatra’s, er, favours.
Mon 24 June 20:45 NFT1
Sun 30 June 16:15 NFT1
USA 1958. Dir Delbert Mann. With Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Burt Lancaster. 100min. PG
Replacing Vivien Leigh when her director husband Laurence Olivier quit the project, Hayworth scores highly as the fading ex-wife of Burt Lancaster (who produced the film), whose unexpected arrival at an unobtrusive hotel unsettles a series of pained relationships. Terence Rattigan’s sensitive play survives surprisingly intact thanks to (almost) uniformly well-pitched performances, especially Hayworth and Oscar-winners David Niven and Wendy Hiller.
Tue 25 June 20:40 NFT2
Sun 30 June 18:20 NFT2
bow to the beautiful goddess.