Gilberte is a sixteen year old girl raised by her aunt and grandmother to be a demimondaine. But she's not ready for that yet, and spends her days in lessons and in teasing Mamita's old ... See full summary »

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(novel) (as Colette de l'Académie Goncourt), (adaptation)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Jean Tissier ...
Yvonne de Bray ...
Frank Villard ...
Gaston (as Franck Villard)
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Madeleine Rousset ...
Pierre Juvenet ...
Michel Flamme ...
Colette Georges ...
Yolande Laffon ...
Madame Lachaille
Hélène Pépée ...
Danièle Delorme ...
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Storyline

Gilberte is a sixteen year old girl raised by her aunt and grandmother to be a demimondaine. But she's not ready for that yet, and spends her days in lessons and in teasing Mamita's old friend, the rich playboy Gaston LaChaille, and following his affairs from afar. But when Gaston throws off his latest mistress, it looks as if Gigi just might be ready to begin her destined career. Written by Kathy Li

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Comedy | Romance

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5 October 1949 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Gigi  »

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1.37 : 1
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Trivia

The main theme that permeates the score was not composed by the film's credited composer, but by F.D. Marchetti, who wrote it in 1932. It was the basis for the popular song, "Fascination", with English lyric by Dick Manning. The song's copyright was renewed in 1945 and again in 1954. It was used to great effect in the film tt050658, resulting in its major success on the hit parade. See more »

Connections

Version of Gigi (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

Wiener Blut, Op. 354 (Vienna Blood)
(uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
Played when Gaston and Gigi meet outside the skating rink
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User Reviews

 
Forgotten Early Version of Colette Novel
4 May 2014 | by (Alexandria, VA) – See all my reviews

Vincente Minnelli's colorful adaptation of Colette's 1944 novel, "Gigi," with its unforgettable Lerner and Lowe score, is so fixated in the public mind that it eclipsed the novel's renown and banished this 1949 French film into oblivion. Fortunately, a less-than-pristine print survives; although the white subtitles are often difficult to decipher, anyone familiar with the MGM musical version will have no trouble following what is almost scene for scene the same story line. However, without the songs, the story of a young girl being groomed in 19th-century French social graces intended to lure rich men moves at a faster pace than Minnelli's film and runs about a half hour less.

The Gallic flavor of the tale has hints of "Lolita" and was tidied up for U.S. audiences of the 1950's. Essentially, Gigi's grandmother and great aunt are training a 15-year old girl to be mistress to a man twice her age. Although actress Daniele Delorme was 29 when the film was made, she clearly states her age in the story as 15 and a half. When 32-year-old Frank Villard, who plays Gaston, puts his hand on her knee, he would be facing child molestation charges today. While her great aunt, played by Gaby Morlay, instructs Gigi in the fine arts of eating lobster, pouring coffee, and choosing cigars, she also teaches her to smoke, and, at one point, she cups Gigi's breasts to check her physical development.

Directed by Jacqueline Audry, "Gigi" is well acted, although Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, and Hermione Gingold are sorely missed; and Louis Jourdan is more of a young girl's dream than the dour Villard. Evidently, the part of Honore was much expanded for the talents of Maurice Chevalier, and the character, played herein by Jean Tissier, is brief. Not surprisingly, the production design also suffers in comparison to the 1958 version. Filmed in black and white, the French film depicts a more modest life for Gigi and her grandmother, and even the luxurious style of Gigi's great aunt and the wealthy Gaston appear compromised herein by budget. However, a few brief glimpses of the Eiffel Tower and Parisian streets are welcome, and Gaston's new automobile is an antique-car aficionado's delight.

Also missed are the songs, especially those sung by Louis Jourdan, which express his changing feelings towards Gigi and his realization that she is no longer a child. In this shorter French version, Gaston's character seemingly flips spontaneously from seeing Gigi as a girl, then a mistress, then a wife. Despite its shortcomings, the 1949 "Gigi" is not a bad film; the story is faithful to the novel, and the performances are quite good. If Vincente Minnelli had not re-filmed the story in color as a musical, Jacqueline Audry's version would have adequately served. However, MGM did produce the 1958 Oscar winner, and this modest adaptation of Colette's novel has been relegated to the archives, where only interested movie lovers will take the time to rediscover its merits.


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