Link to Glamour of the Gods home page
Link to the National Portrait Gallery main website

1940s

The early 1940s were defined by World War II to which the studios responded with a realistic rather than escapist tone, of which Casablanca (1942) remains a classic. The decade is now closely associated with the 'film-noir' genre which began with The Maltese Falcon (1941).

The Hollywood studio system reached its profitable peak during the mid-1940s but the decade ended with many of their practices declared illegal, and key figures were blacklisted during the witch-hunt investigations conducted by the House of Representatives' Un-American Activities Committee.

*

Rita Hayworth for Gilda
by Robert Coburn, 1946

'Every man I've known has fallen in love with Gilda and wakened with me'

Charles Vidor’s Gilda starred Rita Hayworth in the title role and Glenn Ford as her estranged lover Johnny Farrell. Hayworth is seen here as the ultimate femme fatale, wearing a dress by the renowned Hollywood costume designer Jean Louis. The film’s most famous scene shows Hayworth performing in a black satin dress while peeling off her elbow-length gloves. She went on to appear in the The Lady from Shanghai (1948) directed by Orson Welles, whom she married in 1943 but was divorcing when they were making the film.

Robert Coburn (1900-90) was chief portrait photographer at Columbia Pictures when he took this photograph, which was used in reverse on one of original film posters.

photo of Clark Gable and Joan Crawford

Rita Hayworth for Gilda
by Robert Coburn, 1946