Putting the Blame on Carmen: The Rita Hayworth Version

Evans, Peter William
July 2004
Critical Studies;2004, Vol. 24, p107
Academic Journal
Coupled again with Glenn Ford (as in Gilda, 1946 and Affair in Trinidad, 1952), Rita Hayworth in The Loves of Carmen (Charles Vidor, 1948), is caught between, on the one hand, late 1940s Hollywood versions of sexual difference and ethnic/racial otherness and, on the other, what Richard Dyer (1978), writing about Gilda, has defined as the star's 'resistance through charisma'. The Loves of Carmen links its interest in the otherness of the Spanish/Gypsy settings with anxieties over sexual difference focussed, above all, on its star vehicle, Rita Hayworth, in whose languid, mocking and treacherous sensuality this film, as in other Hayworth vehicles such as Blood and Sand (1941), The Lady from Shanghai (1948) or Salome (1953), gets more than it bargained for. The essay explores the various competing discourses of The Loves of Carmen mainly through questions about the shifting and contradictory meanings of the persona or 'masquerade' of Rita Hayworth. After a theoretical and historical introduction it moves to discuss Hayworth's Carmen in terms of the erasure of Gypsy ethnicity through Americanization, and Carmen's betrayal of don José as another example of the betrayal of the femme fatale of American noir. The essay concludes by positing both Hayworth and her Carmen in terms of mimicry and masquerade.


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