Gigi (1958)

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Gigi (1958 poster).jpg

Gigi (French pronunciation: ​[ʒiʒi]) is a 1958 American musical-romance film directed by Vincente Minnelli and processed using Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's color film process Metrocolor. The screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner is based on the 1944 novella of the same name by Colette. The film features songs with lyrics by Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, arranged and conducted by André Previn.

Why It Rocks

  1. While the 1944 novella received a treatment on Broadway in 1951, it was Arthur Freed who envisioned the story as a film musical and ultimately fought to get it made.
  2. Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe are once again at the top of their game in terms of production. Thanks to the elegant dancing and the film's amazingly catchy and memorable music numbers, the film rightfully as a reputation of being one MGM's best musicals of their time, and considering they also did beloved musicals The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, An American in Paris, and Singin in the Rain having such a claim be said for this film is quite an honor.
  3. It's also notable that the songs are nice reflections of the characters who sing them:
    • At Maxim's, Gaston sings knowingly of his waning romance with the 'pretty but common' Liane in 'She Is Not Thinking of Me.'
    • In an outdoor café, Honoré sings of the relaxed and comfortable feelings that come with old age in 'I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore.'
    • In Trouville, Honoré and the Madame Alvarez recall their past romance with 'I Remember It Well.'
    • Most notably, Louis Jourdan sings 'Gigi' sweeping the movie audience in its words and music.
  4. Amazing performances from the entire main cast including Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan.
  5. Honoré Lachaille's role is expanded in this version and it helped revitalize Maurice Chevalier's career.
  6. Memorable and compelling characters such as the titular Gigi, as well as Gaston Lachaille and his uncle Honoré.
  7. Gigi, a young girl of indeterminate age, is being trained to be a courtesan which is the family business. So when her slightly-older bored millionaire family friend begins to see the girl in a new, romantic light, his lawyers offer her family a benefits package, promising that she'll be "taken care of beautifully." Her grandmother and great aunt are cool with it. Though, Gigi herself sees a grim life for herself once this man casts her aside. The the film was made in the '50s, a time when even suicides could be punchlines. The movie's an opportunity to think about how things have changed over all of these time periods, and how they've stayed the same, and it's subtlely hidden under the guise of an upbeat colorful musical.
  8. While various people commented on the political incorrectness of the story, a closer look will actually reveal the true feminist perspective of Colette's work which was groundbreaking for its time: the story is a commentary and observation of the limited social and economic options for women outside of marriage during the turn of the century Paris. Although Gigi never fully masters her lessons and grooming, she is able to capture Gaston's heart precisely because of her imperfections, and most importantly, it is Gaston rather than Gigi who is forced to truly transform himself and defy the social conventions of the time to bring the story to its resolution.

Bad Qualities

  1. Some of the film's themes of sexual politics and gender portrayal may not have held up very well.