The Films of Rita Hayworth [5 Discs] [DVD]

Rita Hayworth (1918-87) - one of the most iconic screen sirens of Golden Age Hollywood - toplines this collection of five classic features, initially produced between 1944 and 1953. The set begins in the World War II era, with Cover Girl, from director Charles Vidor - a musical comedy-romance that launched Hayworth and co-star Gene Kelly to superstardom, with its tale of a chorus girl who gets the opportunity to establish herself as a top model, but doesn't want to forsake the job that lets her stay connected to the man she loves. The box then moves ahead to 1945's Tonight and Every Night, from director Victor Sarville - another wartime musical, this one with Hayworth as an American entertainer, performing in a British musica hall during the blitz. Arguably Hayworth's best known movie, the 1946 Gilda unites Hayworth and director Charles Vidor, in a seminal film noir about a new bride torn between her husband and an ex-lover, both involved in an illegal gambling operation in South America. Next up are the 1953 Miss Sadie Thompson, with Rita as a temptress entangled with a preacher who wants to save her soul, and the same year's Salome, with Rita in a heavily laundered version of the story about the infamous titular Biblical dancer. Martin Scorsese, Baz Luhrmann and Patricia Clarkson turn up to provide introductions.
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Special Features

  • Cover Girl - Baz Luhrmann on Cover Girl
  • Tonight and every night - Patricia Clarkson on Tonight and Every Night
  • Gilda - Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann on Gilda
  • Commentary with Richard Schickel
  • Introducing Miss Sadie Thompson with Patricia Clarkson


When wealthy Ballin Mundson (George Macready) rescues down at his heels gambler Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) and invites him to the Buenos Aires casino he owns, both men get more than they wagered on. Farrell convinces Mundson to hire him as casino manager, but is shocked when Mundson introduces his new bride, and Farrell's old flame, Gilda (Rita Hayworth).Though Farrell is unwavering in his loyalty to his employer, and he and Gilda treat each other with contempt, Mundson realizes that the torch never died for either of the former lovers. Ordered to guard Gilda, Farrell tries to convince himself that he's protecting Mundson's interests, but Gilda sees through his self-deception. Meanwhile, Mundson reveals to Farrell that his primary business is control of an international tungsten cartel that he plans to use to further his fascist ends. With the police closing in on the cartel, Mundson fakes his death, apparently leaving Gilda and Farrell free to marry. They do so: Gilda for love, but Farrell to punish her for being unfaithful to Mundson. When Mundson returns to kill them, it is he who dies, thereby freeing the lovers to apologize to each other and return to the U.S. Charles Vidor's Gilda is a voyeuristic film noir treat that engages the viewer in a complex web of sado-masochistic triangles. When, for example, Gilda performs her signature number, "Put the Blame on Mame," she is not simply enraging both Mundson and Farrell with her open sexuality, she is also crying out in pain for the love she is being denied. ~ Steve Press, Rovi

Cover Girl
Thanks to its Jerome Kern/Ira Gershwin/Yip Harburg score and the luminescence of stars Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly, Cover Girl has taken on a legendary status in recent years. In truth, the film has a banal and predictable premise: a chorus girl (Hayworth) is given a chance for stardom by a wealthy magazine editor (Otto Kruger), who years earlier had been in love with the girl's mother. Offered an opportunity to be a highly-paid cover girl, our heroine would faithfully remain with her tacky nightclub act if only the club manager (Kelly), whom she pines for, would ask her. He loves her too, but doesn't want to stand in her way, so he fakes an argument to send her packing. You don't need a crystal ball to known that the girl and her guy will be reunited for the finale. Phil Silvers, everybody's best friend, and Eve Arden, Kruger's acid-tongued assistant, provide comic relief. The story sags badly at times, but the fans went home happy thanks to the powerhouse musical numbers, including Long Ago and Far Away and Kelly's famous "alter-ego" dance. The film skyrocketed both Hayworth and Kelly to superstardom, and didn't do Silvers any harm, either. Cover Girl is an extraordinarily lavish Technicolor production from the usually parsimonious Columbia Pictures. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Miss Sadie Thompson
Set in New Caledonia (though filmed in Hawaii), Miss Sadie Thompson is a heavily laundered adaptation of Somerset Maugham's Rain, with Rita Hayworth in the title role and José Ferrer as the pious Alfred Davidson. To satisfy the censors, Sadie is no longer a whore but a nightclub entertainer "with a past," while Davidson is not a minister but a lay preacher. The end result, however, is about the same, with Davidson trying to save Sadie's soul, only to lose his own in the process. Aldo Ray co-stars in the beefed-up role of the marine sergeant who harbors a crush for the colorful Miss Thompson. Highlights include Rita Hayworth's rendition of the musical numbers "The Heat is On" (later parodied by Muriel Landers in the 1957 Three Stooges comedy Sweet and Hot), "Blue Pacific Blues," and ""Hear No Evil, Seek No Evil."" ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Tonight and Every Night
Based on a play by Leslie Storm, Tonight and Every Night is a musical wartime morale booster in which star Rita Hayworth is but one of a lively ensemble. Set in battle-scarred Britain, the action takes place in a seedy old music hall, which never misses a performance even at the height of the "blitz". Five times a day like clockwork, American-born entertainer Rosalind Bruce (Rita Hayworth) and her British cohorts put on a show for their ever-appreciative audiences. Along the way, a romance develops between Rosalind and RAF pilot Paul Lundy (Lee Bowman). Providing excellent support are Janet Blair as the troupe's plucky ingenue and Broadway alumnus Marc Platt as the entourage's resident eccentric dancer. The individual numbers are inventively staged, with one scene creatively harnessing the Technicolor process in an eye-popping manner seldom seen in 1940s films. All that Tonight and Every Night lacks is a memorable score, though Rita's solo number "Anywhere" enjoyed brief hit-parade popularity. Incidentally, one of the chorus girls is a slim-and-trim Shelley Winters! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

"Her Salome Will Steal Your Breath Away" was the classic advertising slogan attached to this opulent Rita Hayworth epic -- a slogan which became laughable whenever a radio announcer would mispronounce Salome as "salami." Using the very sketchy Biblical story of the death of John the Baptist as its springboard, Salome depicts its title character, the stepdaughter of King Herod, as a victim of circumstance rather than a wanton temptress. Banished from Rome because of an unfortunate romance with the nephew of Caesar, Salome (Rita Hayworth) declares that all men are her enemies, but her resolve weakens when she falls in love with Claudius (Stewart Granger), the military commander of Galilee. Meanwhile, Salome's wicked mother, Herodias (Judith Anderson), plots the demise of John the Baptist (Alan Badel), who currently enjoys the protection of the superstitious Herod (Charles Laughton). At this point, the story departs radically from Scripture. Salome is no longer coerced by Herodias to demand the head of John the Baptist; instead, Herodias, on her own, promises Herod that Salome will perform the "Dance of the Seven Veils" for him -- but only if he beheads John first (Salome has been misinformed that the dance will save John from the headsman's sword). Somehow, scriptwriter Jesse Lasky Jr. even manages to concoct a happy ending for poor Salome, which is a lot more than Oscar Wilde or Richard Strauss were able to do. Considered an artistic flop in 1953, Salome seems somewhat better today, if only because of that powerhouse cast. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Rita Hayworth
    Rita Hayworth - Gilda Mundson
  • Glenn Ford
    Glenn Ford - Johnny Farrell
  • George Macready
    George Macready - Ballin Mundson
  • Joseph Calleia
    Joseph Calleia - Obregon
  • Steven Geray
    Steven Geray - Uncle Pio
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