THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN “GILDA” AND
Gilda could be described as Casablanca with
neurotics for the lead characters. There are enough
similarities to suggest that Gilda was written on orders
from Harry Cohn or another high-up Columbia executive consciously
attempting to duplicate Casablanca’s financial
Here is what I’ve noticed:
- Both films take place in an exotic foreign country (Morocco in
Casablanca, Argentina in Gilda)
- In both films, a gambling casino is the central location.
Gambling is illegal in both places. The casino has a
high-class feel in both films.
- The main plot of both films is a love triangle between two
men and one woman. The woman is married to one of the men.
- In both films, the woman enters a relationship with the
second man when she believes that the first man--who is also her
husband--is dead (Victor Laszlo in Casablanca, Balon
Munson in Gilda).
- In both films, the woman had never expected to see the second
man again, but when she does meet him again, the love affair
begins anew. (Here, there is a distinct difference between
the films: in Casablanca, Rick was someone who
originally came into her Ilsa’s life after she was informed
of Laszlo’s death and before she learned he was still alive;
in Gilda, Johnny Farrow had parted with Gilda before she
ever met Munson, and her second affair with him occurs while she
is married to Munson and while he is present and known to be
- The head police official in each film (Capt. Reneau in
Casablanca, The Prefect in Gilda) knows that
illegal gambling is going on at the casino, but allows it while
he waits to make a more important arrest which he expects to make
at the casino.
- The head police official in both films closes the casino near
the end of the film. In Casablanca, Capt. Reneau
closes the casino when Victor Laszlo creates a conflict between
Reneau and Strassa. In Gilda, the Prefect closes
the casino when Johnny won’t cooperate in the investigation
of the tungsten cartel.
- The head police official in each film covers up the killing
of the villain (Major Strassa in Casablanca, Balon
Munson in Gilda). In Casablanca, Reneau
announces “Round up the usual suspects,” although he had seen
Rick shoot in self-defense. In Gilda, the Prefect
perpetuates the lie that Munson had committed suicide three
months earlier, and suggests that the killing would have been
found by the courts as justifiable homicide. (The issue of
the Prefect overlooking the killing is somewhat compounded in
Gilda since we don’t know whether the Prefect had
known whether the killing was done by Johnny or by Papa Pio.)
(Notice an important difference between the two films: the
villain and murder victim is outside the romantic triangle in
Casablanca, but part of it in Gilda.)
- The heroine is not first seen in both films until about 15-20
minutes after it has begun.
- In both films, the first close-up of the lead actress (Ingrid
Bergman in Casablanca, Rita Hayworth in Gilda)
is exceptionally beautiful and emotional, and in both cases
probably the single best close-up of that star in the
actress’s entire career. In both films, she is
reacting to the sight of seeing the man from her past for the
first time in a long time, not having expected to ever again see
- In both films, the first exchange of glances between the
heroine and the man from her past, tells up that they’ve
previously known each other, that there’s unresolved issues
between them. In Casablanca, Bergman’s face
shows sorrow and high regard, and Bogart’s shows bitterness
and pain, and feelings of having been betrayed; in
Gilda, Hayworth’s face shows scorn, bitterness, and
the feeling of having been betrayed, and Glenn Ford’s face
shows hatred and disgust and the bitter awareness that she is
right for him.
- The husband in both films seems oblivious at first that his
wife has unresolved feelings for the second man, but in both
films he reveals that he had caught on. In
Casablanca, it’s not until Victor talks privately
to Rick about Victor’s cause and Rick’s ideals that
Victor says that he had known from the first night at Rick’s
that something had gone on between Rick and Ilsa but “no one is
to blame.” In Gilda, Balon says bluntly to Gilda
when they’re alone that he there was the previous
relationship. (The films are somewhat different when it
comes to what the husband says privately to the wife.
Privately, Victor had asked Ilsa whether she had been
lonely in Paris, attempting to prod from her an admission of her
having known Rick, but when Ilsa volunteers no information,
Victor asks nothing more but offers words of solace.
Gilda is different in that Balon says
incontrovertibly “you knew him before.”)
- One of the two men owns and operates the casino.
- The past love affair took place in a place far away (Paris in
Casablanca, New York in Gilda).
- In both films, the second man came from New York (Rick had
lived there before being in the Spanish Civil War, Ethiopia,
Paris and Casablanca. Johnny seems to have gone directly
from New York to Buenos Aires.)
- In both films, the hero and heroine dance at roughly the
film’s midpoint. In Casablanca, Rick and Ilsa
become close, wordlessly. In Gilda, Johnny and
Gilda seem intent on deceiving each other, even as they admit
- In both films, there is a disparaging remark about how
commonplace are women. In Casablanca, Capt. Reneau
remarks “How extravagant throwing away women like that.
Someday they may be scarce.” In Gilda,
Johnny remarks, “Statistics show that there are more women in the
world than anything else--except insects.”
- Both storylines involve documents that are important for the
police and the main characters to obtain, but needn’t be
described in detail. In Casablanca, they are the
letters of transit. In Gilda, they are the
contracts that establish the tungsten cartel.
This page © 1998 David P. Hayes
If you arrived at this web page from the parent page Movies
of Interest to Objectivists, that page should still be
open. Look at your taskbar (or equivalent).
If you reached this page from an outside link, you can click
here to get to Movies of Interest to