Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1980. Columbia Pictures Corporation. Screenplay by John Cassavetes. Cinematography by Fred Schuler. Produced by Sam Shaw. Music by Bill Conti. Production Design by Rene D’Auriac. Costume Design by Peggy Farrell, Emanuel Ungaro. Film Editing by George C. Villasenor. Academy Awards 1980. Golden Globe Awards 1980.
Every once in a while, in between making epic movies about drunken lowlives swinging at each other in bars and living rooms for nights on end, pioneer indie filmmaker John Cassavetes enjoyed taking a classic Hollywood genre out and putting his own unique spin on it. If Minnie And Moskowitz was his version of My Man Godfrey, Gloria is a clever combination of James Cagney gangster movies and Barbara Stanwyck weepies. Gena Rowlands is scintillating as the lead character, a former gun moll who takes a little boy under her wing after his entire family is murdered by her mob friends. The kid’s father was rubbed out for having information on his employers that he was about to turn over to the feds, and now that the kid has it he’s a marked man (and he is, as he asserts, the man). Not being particularly fond of children in the first place, Gloria resists having to do too much with the talkative little tyke until she realizes that protecting him from harm is much more important to her than she at first realized. Lots of great, tough dialogue, plus Cassavetes proves himself a pro at directing action movies, giving our two heroes lots of shoot-outs and chases before the highly satisfying ending. A remake was put out in 1999 starring Sharon Stone, in which she gives a good performance, but Cassavetes’ original has a lot more class and a lot more soul, plus the kid in this one doesn’t come off like a clever child actor but more like a regular, lost kid (and he’s fabulous at it).