Film legend Rita Hayworth was one of the most dazzling and adored stars of the 1940s. The actor became synonymous with femme fatale and temptress, but Hayworth could do just about anything: she could dance, act , produce, sing and even play flamenco guitar. Originally trained as a dancer, Hayworth eventually became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand talents, earning her the nickname “The Love Goddess”.
Many of Rita Hayworth’s best-known films don’t even make it into her top 10 best-rated films. It has such a long list of highly rated films, that classics like the musical Blanket girl and boyfriend joey don’t list. Hayworth’s contributions to cinema cannot be denied, as illustrated by his acclaimed list of best films.
ten The Story on the First Page (1959) – 6.9
Rita Hayworth plays Josephine in this legal drama. Josephine and her lover are the main suspects in the murder of Josephine’s husband, culminating in the couple’s struggle for their freedom. The film has often been viewed as an over-the-courtroom flick, possibly due to Hayworth’s good performance.
This film was an opportunity for Hayworth to show that his talent went far beyond his beauty. Her heartfelt performance showed audiences that she could be masterful in dramatic performances in which she was not portrayed as a temptress or femme fatale.
9 Blood and Sand (1941) – 6.9
The affair of a matador with a beautiful aristocrat complicates the rise of his career in this romantic technicolor drama. Hayworth portrays the glamorous aristocrat who is responsible for the loss of the matador. The viewer can fully understand the protagonist’s weakness for the character of Hayworth, as she perfectly embodies the role.
Hayworth makes her character seem untouchable, glamorous and always a cut above her lover. Placing romantic screen legend Tyrone Powers alongside Rita Hayworth’s temptress character only added to the credibility of the sizzling relationship between the two.
8 Shadow (1937) – 7.0
Mystery of the crime, ambitious Mary strives to restore the family circus after her father’s death and restore the business to its former glory. However, problems arise when the selfish equestrian star of the circus is murdered.
This film was one of Rita Hayworth’s first leading roles. She takes full advantage of this opportunity and does not disappoint as she shows a strong mastery of the screen. No Citizen Kane By all means, this B-movie might not be in the movie history books, but it provided an entertaining mystery and helped show Hayworth’s skillful ability to play lead roles.
7 You were never more beautiful (1942) – 7.2
Film by Fred Astaire, the film follows an American dancer in Buenos Aires who is only allowed to dance in an illustrious club if he plays the role of suitor to the unmarried eldest daughter of the club owner, the beautiful Maria. Starring the alluring Maria,
Hayworth was able to use his dance experience to dance to the tunes of famous conductor Xavier Cugat. According to Legacy.com, Astaire, who performed with many great ladies of the Golden Age, once said that Hayworth was his favorite dance partner. Even the fondly remembered duo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers could not compare to the ravishing saboteur Hayworth.
6 Manhattan Tales (1942) – 7.3
In this anthology film, a black jacket is handed out by the owners of the coat as the film delves into each of their lives. Hayworth plays the married lover of the jacket’s first owner, a stage actor.
This film did not age well and was even controversial at the time of its release due to the stereotypical portrayal of black Americans in the film’s final segment. That being said, the film still enjoys high ratings from fans, even when some of Hayworth’s most notable films don’t make the top 10.
5 The strawberry blonde (1941) – 7.3
This romantic comedy stars some of the great Hollywood classics, such as James Cagney, Olivia De Havilland and, of course, Rita Hayworth. At the turn of the century, two men form a feud over their mutual interest in the gold-seeking “strawberry blonde”, played by none other than Hayworth.
Flaunting his megawatt smile, Hayworth makes it clear how two men could compete so fiercely over him. She comes across as someone the audience doesn’t like but is also charmed, which is quite an accomplishment.
4 Separate paintings (1958) – 7.4
Rita Hayworth plays a vulnerable and fragile woman who tries to get back together with a former lover as she crosses paths with other residents of a UK seaside hotel in Separate tables. This Oscar-winning film was another by Hayworth that was controversial upon its release. The film’s candid portrayal of adultery and sexual matters was risky at the time, making the film a significant trailblazer.
Often regarded as a melodrama, this film is especially notable for the solid performances of the cast of the whole. Hayworth’s scenes of an emotionally distressed woman haunt the viewer and add contrast to the hotel’s other distant guests.
3 The Lady of Shanghai (1947) – 7.6
Directed by Hayworth’s ex-husband at the time, the famous Orson Welles, this film spawned many imitators of the film’s mirror-centric ending. The film follows a sailor who agrees to work on a private cruise for the attractive Mrs. Bannister and her wealthy husband. Mingling with the warring couple results in the sailor’s involvement in a murder plot.
Hayworth is alongside Welles’ sailor as the mysterious Mrs. Bannister. The role took full advantage of Hayworth’s femme fatale character archetype following the success of Gilda, one year before. Additionally, the production of this film caused a stir, as Welles and Hayworth decided to bleach and cut Hayworth’s long red braids for the role, which intensely angered the studio heads.
2 Gilda (1946) – 7.6
This noir classic almost cemented Hayworth’s fame as the quintessential femme fatale. Hayworth was so synonymous with her role as Gilda that she herself was quoted as lamenting: “Every man I knew went to bed with Gilda… and woke up with me.”
In the film, American gamer Johnny is hired to work at a popular Buenos Aires casino where he discovers that his former lover is his boss’s new wife. Gilda’s cold and harsh demeanor towards Johnny is ultimately revealed as a facade for her feelings towards him. Hayworth does a fantastic job of slowly showing that Gilda’s hatred is eroding into love and arguably no other actor could have made this role iconic.
1 Only Angels Have Wings (1939) – 7.7
Often considered one of Howard Hawk’s best films, this adventure film tells the story of an air cargo manager in a South American port city who must risk the lives of his pilots trying to ‘get a lucrative contract. Hayworth embodies the former flame of the main character and the wife of a pilot he hires. Hayworth seemed to have made a steady living playing ex-girlfriends who still have a hold over their former partners, with this film being one of her first times in this kind of role.
This film was Hayworth’s first major role, as she had been in smaller projects or roles before. Only angels have wings was an important film for Hayworth as it helped cement her burgeoning place in the film industry in which she would become one of her biggest stars.
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