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FAQ for
Gigi (1958) More at IMDbPro »

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FAQ Contents

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Gigi can be found here.

Gilberte "Gigi" (Leslie Caron), a young girl coming of age in turn-of-the-century (1900) Paris, is being groomed as a courtesan by her grandmother Madame Alvarez "Mamita" (Hermione Gingold) and her great aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans). Meanwhile, wealthy family friend Honor Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier), an inveterate womanizer and ex-lover of Madame Alvarez, is raising his nephew Gaston (Louis Jourdan) to also live the life of a bon vivant. At first, the Lachailles think of Gigi as a "little girl", until it becomes apparent that Gigi is changing into an elegant young woman right before Gaston's eyes.

Alan Jay Lerner, the American lyricist who wrote the screenplay, based it on a 1944 novella, also titled Gigi, by French novelist (Sidonie-Gabrielle) Colette. The novella was also the source for the 1949 non-musical movie Gigi and for the 1951 non-musical stage version with Audrey Hepburn. The movie won the 1959 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.

A courtesan is a female who attends the court of a king or other powerful person. In modern times, it has come to take on the connotation of a mistress or prostitute, especially one associated with a rich, powerful, upperclass man who provides her with luxuries and status.

No definite age was mentioned in the movie. In the book, Gigi was a schoolgirl, about 15½ years old at the beginning of the story. By the end of the book, she is 16. Leslie Caron was actually 26 years old when the movie was filmed. Louis Jourdan was 36.

Those were ortolans, small songbirds in the bunting family Emberizidae, similar to finches and sparrows. Considered an extreme delicacy, the ortolan was named an endangered species in 1999 France, but the laws that were passed meant to protect the bird were not well-enforced until 2007 when French restaurants were forced to take ortolan off their menus and a fine was set at 6,000 francs if caught. The method of preparing and eating an ortolan is considered by some to be barbaric. It requires blinding the ortolan or raising it in a lightless box for a month to gorge on millet, grapes, and figs, then drowning them in Armagnac brandy, stripping the feathers, removing the feet, and baking them whole for eight minutes before serving. Tradition has it that the diner places a handkerchief over his head before stuffing the whole bird into his mouth with only the head sticking out, which is bitten off and discarded. The diner then slowly chews the ortolan, including the bones while letting the ambrosial fat cascade freely down the throat. Enjoy with a good Bordeaux.

That was French tarot, a popular card game played either with the 52-card deck consisting of four suits (spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs) of 13 cards each (ace through 10 plus three face cards) or with the 78-card deck that adds 21 trump cards plus the Fool. The rules are complicated, and the goal is to finish the round with the highest number of points.

Gaston realizes that he is in love with Gigi and offers to make her his courtesan and keep her "beautifully", but Gigi refuses, not wanting to live a life hopping from bed to bed whenever her "keeper" gets tired of her. Angrily, Gaston seeks advice from Honor, who suggests that he toss himself back into the gay life and party with him tonight at Maxim's. However, Gigi decides that she'd rather be miserable with Gaston than without him, he takes her with him to Maxim's. When they walk in together, all heads turn and then the tongues begin wagging, but Gigi plays the role of courtesan quite well, calling upon everything Aunt Alicia taught her about pouring coffee, choosing cigars, and acting like a lady. After they have danced, Gaston presents Gigi with an emerald bracelet. Of course, Gigi makes all the appropriate comments for everyone to hear. When she tries to put it on, Gaston tells her that the clasp is tricky and suggests that she get the lady in the powder room to help her with it. While Gigi is gone, Honor congratulates Gaston for getting Gigi to reconsider, but Gaston has had enough. As Gigi comes back from the powder room, Gaston grabs her arm and pulls her out of the restaurant. He takes her back home and delivers her to Mamita, then walks away. After wandering around for a bit, thinking about Gigi, Gaston returns and asks Mamita for Gigi's hand in marriage. Mamita responds by saying happily, "Thank heaven! ...for little girls..." Honor continues with the song. In the final scene, Gigi and Gaston are shown mounting a carriage in the Bois de Boulogne and riding off together. Honor salutes them with his cane.

Viewers of Gigi often point out that the story about Gigi is similar to the musical My Fair Lady (1964) and to Pygmalion (1938) (on which My Fair Lady is based) in that they both feature a lower class girl being turned into a poised young woman. Other movies with such a theme include The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and The Princess Diaries (2001), albeit modernized for the 21st century. Because Gigi was being groomed as a courtesan, those interested in movies featuring courtesans, mistresses, and high-paid prostitutes recommend Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) and Pretty Woman (1990). Finally, movies that deal with older man involved with "jailbait" include Lolita (1962), American Beauty (1999), and Poison Ivy (1992).


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