Gloria (Gena Rowlands), a self-involved woman in her forties who was once a mobster's mistress, is asked to look after Philip (Juan Adames), the son of her Mafia-connected Puerto Rican neighbors. This temporary set-up becomes permanent when the neighbors are killed in a mob hit. Philip has in his possession a diary containing a record of illegal Mafia activities; thus the boy is as good as dead unless Gloria takes decisive action. With Philip in tow, Gloria leads the hit men on a frantic chase around Manhattan, and during the various gunfire exchanges, more than holds her own. Offering to exchange the diary for the boy's life, Gloria is rebuffed by the vendetta-driven assassins. Where once she was content squirreling herself away in her lonely apartment, Gloria now must face a lifetime on the run. Directed on a more commercial level than was customary for John Cassavetes (with a subversive streak of self-parody in the bargain), Gloria served as an excellent showcase for Cassavetes' wife Gena Rowlands. The film won the Golden Lion Award at the 1980 Berlin Film Festival. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Gena Rowlands received an Academy Award nomination for this role, and about a third of the way through the movie, I was questioning the wisdom of that choice. But the relationship that develops between Gena's tough broad character Gloria and Phil, the spunky little Puerto Rican boy, was incredibly touching and made a believer of me!