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Style PASS on a Hollywood icon who wasn't always well-behaved

Rita is not always "decent“

"Gilda? Are you decent?" - The casino owner hesitates before opening the door. He wants to introduce his newlywed to the new manager, but is not sure if she is decently dressed. Yet "decent" has a broader meaning than just to be dressed „well“. "Decent" can mean the clothes, but also the character of a person. This double-meaning of the word refers - how could it be otherwise - especially to the world of women. So Style PASS introduces you to Hollywood icon Rita Hayworth - the scene comes from her cult film "Gilda", which made her unforgettable.

In her first appearance as "Gilda", Rita Hayworth responds with such tongue-in-cheek indignation that there is no doubt she means both. The viewer is sensitised to the film's strongly erotic subtext, in which what is unsaid is often more important than what is said.

A star Rita Hayworth has long been at this point!

But "Gilda" makes her immortal. Yet her rise is anything but easy. Hayworth's father comes from Seville and decides to emigrate to the United States in 1913. Five years later Rita was born. At the age of 13, she was already performing with her family on the stages of the popular vaudeville theatres, where they caused a sensation with flamenco. But with the triumph of the talkies, the theatres lose more and more of their importance. Rita's father moves to Hollywood, where he hopes for a better future as a dance teacher and choreographer in films. But this time the economic crisis throws a spanner in the works. Together with his talented daughter, he tours nightclubs and presents the dances of his Andalusian homeland.

Film people often hang out in this milieu, a producer becomes aware of Rita and invites her to test recordings. The consequences are a contract with Fox, as well as speaking and acting lessons with other starlets. Over the next five years, she made around 30 films, most of them quick-cranked westerns, crime or adventure stories for the average audience's daily appetite.

Further development as an actress

But then Rita attracts attention in two similar roles in very different films. Both times she is cast as a "bad girl"; the girl the hero doesn't end up with: In "Only Angels have Wings" by Howard Hawks, she meets her ex Cary Grant, who runs an airline in the Andes. She couldn't trust him, and he has been a cynical misogynist ever since. When she gets drunk out of remorse and thus reveals her feelings to him, he doubly washes his hands of her. But at least he is willing to give women a chance after all. However, in the shape of the showgirl Jean Arthur. In the other film, Rita has the incomparably bigger title role: "The Strawberry Blonde" by Raoul Walsh is set in New York at the beginning of the 20th century and is about two friends who court the same girl who attracts the eyes of all the men. Just when James Cagney feels he has the advantage, he not only waits in vain on a date, but has to learn that Rita is about to marry his best friend because he has prospects of a great career. Cagney, who has started training as a dentist, cannot keep up with this and marries Olivia de Havilland. But that is only the beginning of the story. For Rita sees to it that Cagney gets a well-paid job in her husband's successful company, which, however, ends with the naive Cagney being framed for fraud, for which he goes to jail for five years. If anything, this welds their marriage together. When Rita's husband accidentally lands in Cagney's dentist's chair, he has the opportunity to take appropriate revenge.

Women's roles with subtext

In both films, the women's roles work well because they are presented with a wink. However, one cannot shake the feeling that the morally legitimate endings are due to censorship, and the women who are not "decent" must therefore be punished.

And yet, Style PASS concludes: If one were allowed to choose which of the women in both films to spend an evening with, most would certainly choose the more attractive Rita; even if (or precisely because) she is less harmless.

For Style PASS, author Holger Badura explores a real diva.

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