(director: Vincent Sherman; screenwriters: from a story by Virginia Van Upp and Berne Giler/James Gunn/Oscar Saul; cinematographer: Joseph Walker; editor: Viola Lawrence; music: George Duning/Morris Stoloff; cast: Rita Hayworth (Chris Emery), Glenn Ford (Steve Emery), Alexander Scourby (Max Fabian), Valerie Bettis (Veronica Huebling), Torin Thatcher (Inspector Smythe); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Vincent Sherman; Columbia; 1952)

“This tired tropical thriller is another attempt at making a Gilda.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This tired tropical thriller is another attempt at making a Gilda, the stars signature film from 1946. It signals the comeback of Rita Hayworth after four years of early retirement when she married in 1949 the profligate Aly Khan, a wealthy Muslim prince, only to divorce him after the birth of her two children. Rita was now nearly broke and needing the money, and returned to work for the dreaded Columbia studio head monster Harry Cohn. Vincent Sherman (“The Unfaithful”/”Harriet Craig”), in his book, tells how he had to direct a Rita, never a good actress in the first place, but who was now “sad, lonely, lacking confidence and direction.” The sketchy film borrowed heavily from Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946). This rehash film opened to poor reviews but did a big box-office, as the public was anxious to see Rita. But aside from having Rita back on the screen again, the pic failed to distinguish itself. It’s taken from a sloppily written story by Berne Giler and Virginia Van Upp, who fill it with uninteresting spy-thriller clichés.

American nightclub singer/dancer in Trinidad, Chris Emery (Rita Hayworth), learns her husband was killed by a gang of international spies headed by Max Fabian (Alexander Scourby). Police Inspector Smythe (Torin Thatcher) gets Chris to work undercover for the police to get enough evidence on the sophisticated Max to convict him. Chris’s brother-in-law, the man she always loved, Steve Emery (Glenn Ford), comes to solve the murder and nearly blows Chris’s efforts. Our hero loves the lady in spite of thinking she’s involved with spies.

Though the film was forgettable, the 34 years old Rita looked gorgeous and was worth savoring. She seemed to come to life only in the two songs she sang: “Trinidad lady” and “I’ve Been Kissed Before.”


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”