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Weary of the conventions of Parisian society, a rich playboy and a youthful courtesan-in-training enjoy a platonic friendship, but it may not stay platonic for long. Gaston, the scion of a wealthy Parisian family finds emotional refuge from the superficial lifestyle of upper class Parisian 1900s society with the former mistress of his uncle and her outgoing, tomboy granddaughter, Gigi. When Gaston becomes aware that Gigi has matured into a woman, her grandmother and aunt, who have educated Gigi to be a wealthy man's mistress, urge the pair to act out their roles but love adds a surprise twist to this delightful turn-of-the 20th century Cinderella story. Written by
Leslie Caron described filming inside Maxim's as a "nightmare." Vincente Minnelli was given only a few days to get the important shots he needed inside Paris' most famous restaurant. It was a beautiful but tight space, and it had the added challenge of its signature mirrors along the walls, which could easily reflect the cameras and lights if the crew wasn't careful. Caron recalled, "From the sidewalk entrance to the dining area, the space was crowded like an anthill full of technicians trying to set up the lamps, the black flags, the cables and sound equipment-a constant flow of ladies in evening dresses with hats bigger than the waiters' trays, makeup artists wiping the sweat off the gentlemen's brows, the blaring playback music drowning all else, adding to the confusion." See more »
When Honore Lachaille is having a shave at the barbers, a small amount of shaving cream is left on his face after he has wiped it with a towel. It disappears on the next shot. See more »
[Honore walks through Paris and greets the viewer]
Good afternoon! As you see, this lovely city all around us is Paris, and this lovely park is of course the Bois de Boulogne. Who am I? Well, allow me to introduce myself: I am Honore Lachaille. Born: Paris. When...
...not lately. This is 1900, so let's just say not in this century. Circumstances: comfortable. Profession: lover, and collector of beautiful things. Not antiques mind you, younger things.
[...] See more »
Lerner & Lowe competing with Lerner & Lowe...but still a charming musical...
It's almost as if Lerner & Lowe were competing with themselves when they decided to write the music for "Gigi" -- once again, a story about a girl being transformed into a young woman of charm (a Parisian courtesan) just as Eliza was being molded into another creature by Professor Higgins. And that's not the only similarity. The songs all have a "My Fair Lady" similarity -- from 'The Night They Invented Champagne' to 'Gigi' to 'The Parisiennes' -- all bear the flavor of their previous work in sound and content. And yet they work beautifully for this story set in the city of love and starring Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan, Herminone Gingold and Maurice Chevalier.
Production-wise, it's almost too lavish for its own good. Vincente Minnelli wrings every bit of artistic decor in the trappings, giving the viewer an almost claustrophobic feeling for the interior scenes. The outdoor shots are just as lavish--Louis Jourdan singing the title song among the fountains and architecture of French landmarks.
The cast is perfect. Leslie Caron makes an enchanting Gigi, Louis Jourdan is impossibly handsome as Gaston, and all of the other players were cast with a discerning eye.
But there is no denying that no matter how distasteful some will find the story of training a girl to become a courtesan to be (or how politically incorrect by today's standards), the score is as sparkling as the champagne they sing about. While, in my opinion, the score does not surpass "My Fair Lady" in range and cleverness, it certainly did well enough in winning nine Oscars, including the one for Best Picture of 1958. By all means, it has to be considered one of the last great musicals from the MGM period.
Only drawback: it's a bit overlong and could have used some editing for the slow moments.
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