When the film was released in 1946, striking redhead Hayworth had already starred in a series of musicals that made her America’s pin-up, yet here she delivers the same va-voom (in sundry shoulderpad-tastic Jean Louis outfits) while always hinting at the anxieties beneath the ‘love goddess’ surface. It was the defining role of her career, yet it says a lot about the rest of the movie that Hayworth’s fire never overwhelms it.
There’s an element of ‘Casablanca’ exoticism in the Buenos Aires setting, where moody leading man Glenn Ford plays a drifter taken under the wing of casino owner George Macready – a silky-voiced character actor who always brought an element of sexual ambiguity to the screen. When the latter marries Hayworth on the spur of the moment, Ford bristles because he has previous with this femme fatale and is still feeling it. ‘Hate,’ as the pearly dialogue has it, ‘can be a very exciting emotion.’ From then on, homoerotic undertones, atmospheric black-and-white camerawork, Ford’s fight not to let bitterness get the better of decency and Hayworth’s ever-present heat combine in one of the great films noirs, softened just a little by the moralising censorship strictures of the time. See it.