"Gilda: The Affair in Trinidad" is like most cash-in movies...just a lot of chicky chick boom chick
Jun 14, 2011
Affair in Trinidad might have been a reasonably solid movie of murder and intrigue if Columbia Pictures hadn't strained so mightily to remind us of, and cash in on, Gilda. But six years have passed since that hothouse orchid bloomed. Rita Hayworth, returning to movies after four years, a survivor of two demeaning marriages, first to the ego-driven and easily bored Orson Welles and the second to the spoiled, world-class philanderer Aly Khan, looks great but no longer has that fresh, spirited quality she brought to her movies in the Forties. Glenn Ford is finally beginning to look older than a teen-ager, but all he's called on to do is to project the same melodramatic resentment he carried along with him in Gilda. For the villain, Alexander Scourby was a good actor, but there's none of the noxious, smooth danger that George Macready gave off in waves...and none of the homoerotic subtext that spiced up Gilda. All we have is Inspector Smythe's flat-footed description of Max Fabian: "He's a man who deals in international intrigue, secret information, treason...a man who's grown rich by exploiting trouble and unrest wherever they exist..." Yawn.
Chris Emery (Rita Hayworth) is a headlining entertainer in Trinidad's Carib Club. She sings, dances, and knocks `em dead when she undulates across the dance floor. Her husband, an unsuccessful painter, dies. Suicide? It looks that way, but Inspector Smythe (Torin Thatcher) is convinced it's murder. Smythe believes that Max Fabian was behind it. He arms twists Chris to get close to Fabian, who likes her a lot. Her job: Get the goods on him. This will include slimy men with German accents and devices that seem to be nuclear.
Then her husband's brother shows up from the States. Steve Emery (Glenn Ford) quickly resents how Chris is being so friendly to Max. He has no idea she's working for the police and that she has been instructed to say nothing. This three-way arrangement results in Steve showing how tough and angry he can be, in Fabian showing how cool and dangerous he can be, and in Chris showing how conflicted she can be, especially when Chris and Steve realize their love for each other. Fear not; the movie does eventually end. When Affair in Trinidad was released it was considerably more successful than Gilda had been.
Affair in Trinidad hasn't aged well. The script is no better than workmanlike. The acting, especially in the smaller parts, is basic. Even the two musical numbers Hayworth gives us, "Trinidad Lady" and "I've Been Kissed Before," seem like stuffed animals from another era. Instead of the self-aware and amusing heat of Hayworth doing "Put the Blame on Mame," here Hayworth is gorgeous and merely professional. Most of the problem is that the choreography for her is vulgar instead of being sexy. During one dance and in a skimpy costume,
Picture a small group of bongo-thumping Trinidadians in native dress sitting on stage amongst banana fronds. They sing, eyes rolling with delight...
"A chicky chick boom chick boom A chicky chick boom chick boom Announces you're in the room With the Trinidad Lady
"A chicky chick boom chick boom A chicky chick boom chick boom Your ticker goes boom, boom, boom For the Trinidad Lady..."
Even Hayworth swaying in on bare feet can't do much with material like this. Same with the movie.