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Film / Gloria

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Gloria is a 1980 crime thriller film by John Cassavetes. Its premise, of a mobgirl or similar going on the run from The Mafia and the FBI with a young boy, has been used in homage many times since. Gloria is played in the film by Gena Rowlands, who was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, and Gloria Swenson was nominated as an AFI "Hero". The film ultimately won a Leone d'Oro at the Venice film festival that year (tying with Atlantic City) and a Golden Raspberry Award. Though falling within the right time period, it is not considered a Giallo film.

Cassavetes wrote the screenplay and sold it to Columbia Pictures, only coming on board to direct after his wife was cast in the title role.

After establishing within the first scene that something is wrong, Gloria serendipitously appears at her neighbor's door when they are about to be murdered by a mob hit squad. She takes their young son, Phil, to her apartment, and they promptly get killed in the next scene. It doesn't take long for the SWAT team to arrive, but Gloria has already fled with a packed bag, Phil, and her cat. Because it wouldn't be an eighties Italian film without it, the team get in a taxi and watch the vibrant New York landscape pass them by. They continue swapping locations, within the city limits of New York, and Gloria gets to be a badass fighting off all the assailants coming after them, until she ditches the kid because he's a wisecracker. Don't worry, she gets him back (after having another badass fight), and they have a happy ending after escaping New York.

The film was remade in the United States in 1999, with the same name, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Sharon Stone and George C. Scott in his final role, though very poorly received. Other films that have used elements of it in homage include Ultraviolet (2006) and The Professional.

Tropes in Gloria:

  • Action Girl: Gloria, with a lot of guns.
  • Almost Famous Name: Gloria Swenson, which is one letter off from actress Gloria Swanson.
  • Anti-Hero / Combat Pragmatist: The titular heroine is a Defrosting Ice Queen former mobster's girlfriend who periodically resorts to killing if it means she saves Phil's life.
  • Big Applesauce: It's set in New York City and even though they want to leave for safety, they aren't given the opportunity. Eventually they do, with the suggestion being the mob controls all of NYC but also only NYC.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: New York City is portrayed as a corrupt, sleazy rathole. This is perhaps unsurprising, as the movie was made in 1980, when the city was badly suffering from crime and urban decay.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Phil reunites with Gloria, though his family is dead and they're still on the run from the FBI and the mafia.
  • Child Hater: Downplayed. Gloria states early on that she isn't a fan of kids though she doesn't actively hate Phil - if anything, she initially finds him annoying. That being said, she gradually bonds with Phil during the film as she's trying to protect him.
  • Death of a Child: While the whole premise is to keep young Phil alive, his sister Joan does die early on.
  • Enemy Mine: Both the mob and the cops are after Gloria and Phil.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: Six-year-old Phil occasionally acts older than he is and says things that most six-year-olds wouldn't say.
    Phil (to Gloria): "He don't know the score, he sees a dame like you, and a guy like me, he don't know."
  • Humiliation Conga: Gloria inflicts this on the mob, as she repeatedly manages to outmaneuver them and keep Phil from their grasp, killing and wounding several of their members in the process.
  • Mama Bear: While Phil's not her biological child, Gloria is extremely protective of him.
  • The Mole: Jack Dawn has been an accountant for the mob, informing the FBI. Everyone seems to know this, so it's no surprise he's killed off pretty quickly.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The guy who tries to convince Gloria to give up while driving off in the cab (shortly before she meets up with Tanzinni) calls the (black) taxi driver an "ape."note  Unsurprisingly, the driver promptly kicks the guy out of his cab.
  • Parental Substitute: Gloria has to act like one to Phil after his family dies at the start of the film.
  • R-Rated Opening: An early scene is the violent shotgun murders of the Dawns.
  • Sole Survivor: Phil Dawn, of his family.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Tanzinni and his mob kill the Dawns, including their young daughter, early in the film. The rest of the film has the mob chasing after Phil so they can kill him as well. Rather chillingly, it's eventually made clear that even Tanzinni acquiring Jack Dawn's ledger, which contains the incriminating evidence, won't be enough to call off the hunt for Phil.