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In 1848 NYC, a Frenchwoman visits exiled former French Marshal Thevenet to ask for his financial help in behalf of his French grandson but Thevenet's house staff schemes to kill him and take his fortune.
Gaby is a ballet dancer in 1944 London who happens to bump into a corporal Greg while rushing to catch the bus. Greg is mesmerized by Gaby and goes to the ballet to see her on stage, but Gaby is French and wants nothing to do with Greg. But he persists and by the end of the day, she agrees to marry. But before they can marry, there is a mountain of red tape and Greg ships out while promising to marry Gaby on his return. When she hears that he has been killed, she makes herself available to anyone who would want her. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Oh, I wish you weren't a paratrooper. Why did you ever choose a horrible thing like that. It's terribly dangerous.
Gregory Y. Wendell:
Well, what about you? Here, in London with the bombs.
I work here. If they fall, there is nothing I can do. I don't run to meet danger. I don't throw myself at it as if it were my lover.
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The third, and weakest, film adaptation of 'Waterloo Bridge'
The 1931 and 1940 films, both named 'Waterloo Bridge', are very highly recommended, and are very good films in their own right with the slight edge going to the 1940 film despite being less faithful to the original story.
Although it is a long way from a bad film, 'Gaby' isn't in the same league. There are a lot of things to like, with the best things being Leslie Caron, who despite being unconvincing as a prostitute (and the transition is even less convincing) beguiles and charms in the lead, and the luminous Metrocolor cinematography that gives the film a quaint 1950s sheen, the use of Cinemascope is also striking.
Further great assets are the beautiful and never too sugary or melodramatic music score, and the timeless Rodgers/Hart-penned "Where or When". The two French songs ("Sur Le Pont D'Avignon" faring the slightly better of the two), "My Country Tis of Thee" and Chopin's Piano Concerto are also well used, just not leaving as big an impression in the film as "When or When". The dialogue is thought-provoking, some of the sets are nicely done and atmospheric and the supporting cast especially a distinguished Cedric Hardwicke acquit themselves very well.
However, John Kerr's performance is very one-dimensional, with stiffness and awkwardness being the only real emotions he shows. Even those not completely enamoured with Robert Taylor's performance in the 1940 film will find themselves appreciating it more after seeing Kerr, I certainly did. His chemistry with Caron is quite bland too. 'Gaby' is also very dully directed by Curtis Bernhardt, with the film never seeming to find proper momentum.
It is agreed that there is a lack of atmosphere- the 1931 film was gritty, at times steamy and dark while the 1940 film while, due to the Code and its constraints, tamer and more romanticised was very lovingly romantic, lavish and incredibly poignant. These are things that, other than a lavishness in the cinematography and some of the costumes and sets, 'Gaby' lacks, dullness and glimpses of sugary charm being the primary feelings here. The ending is pure contrived tack, as problematic as the ending of the 1931 film was it was still more believable than this, and things are all far too easily forgiven. Gaby's transformation is too sudden, and some of the sets are on the cheap and cobbled together side.
All in all, watchable thanks to Caron and the cinematography, but anybody who loved the previous two 'Waterloo Bridge' film adaptations like this reviewer did will find themselves disappointed. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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