Admired by novelists as diverse as Jean Cocteau and François Mauriac, Colette was arguably the finest French writer of her sex in the 20th century... Her main themes were joys and pains of love and female sexuality in the male-dominated world... All her provocative works (sometimes scandalous) were written with extraordinary insight, sensitivity, and sensuality... "Gigi" was made into a modest French film in 1948 by Jacqueline Audry, and ten years later, was brought to the screen as an Oscar-winning musical film dancing off with no fewer than nine Academy Awards including Best Picture... 'Gigi' is the delightful story of a young French girl raised and lavished by her grandmother, and her great-aunt, to follow the family tradition by becoming a courtesan... The film opens in the City of Lights, in a period that had its own visual style, the early 1900s, where Honoré Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier), standing in the lovely park of 'The Bois De Boulogne,' announces himself as 'a lover and collector of beautiful things.' He sings "Thank Heaven for Little girls" with all the captivating smile and enduring charm that kept him an international super star for four decades... Honoré's ravenous appetite for life is contrasted with the world-weariness of his suave aristocrat nephew Gaston (Louis Jourdan), who, in the song 'It's a Bore!,' express his total indifference to absolutely everything... Soon we are swept into the private world of Gigi, the adorable Parisian schoolgirl trained to follow the family tradition... Gigi is a potential coquette who steals everyone's heart... She knows how to test the quality of a cigar, and learns the refinements and graces of her family's exalted profession along with some of Aunt Alicia's basic recommendations... Gigi progress from a Parisian gamine of the belle époque, to 'a definite allure.' Gaston, a longtime friend of the family, regards Gigi as a silly child, until he realizes that there has been a breathless change... Gigi shocks and upsets everyone by refusing to become Gaston's latest conquest... To her, the glory of romance and the music of love are not quite enough... Leslie Caron is an absolute delight as the irrepressible Gigi... With her fleeting facial expressions, she captures brilliantly the transformation of a teasing tomboy into the hesitant, uncertain blooming of adult sexuality... Louis Jourdan behaves like a perfect Gaston Lachaille... He makes his offer in good faith before any emotional advance... His character is a harmonious mixture of worldly cynicism and romantic idealism... His manners and behavior, and even his singing voice, are perfectly suited to the character... Gaston is a high-living Parisian lover, a bon vivant, rich and famous... A very elegant bachelor bored with the high society life... The only woman he enjoys is one of his uncle's old girlfriends, Madame Alvarez, whose granddaughter, Gigi, strikes him as particularly irreverent... He brings to Gigi her caramels, licorice and champagne... He lets her cheat at cards... He is captivated by her boyish enthusiasm, even when he is refused, rejected, rebuffed, and repudiated... Maurice Chevalier is outstanding as Gaston's elderly charming uncle... Honoré hasn't let his advancing age interfere with his exuberant enjoyment of chasing beautiful women... For him love is all... He is the 'Prince of Love,' with all the exuberance, the impudence and the occasional awkwardness of youth... Isabel Jeans is perfect as Aunt Alicia, the ancient rich courtesan... She trains Gigi in securing a lineup of wealthy lovers... At one point, she instructs Gigi on the relative values of the exquisite stones in her jewel box, ticking off the particular merits of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds... Gigi listens to her aunt's artistic feat, inspiring the same delighted admiration for the large square-cut emerald her aunt got from a King, and which she slips onto Gigi's finger with the observation that 'only the most beautiful emeralds contain that miracle of elusive blue.' The songs are perfect reflections of the characters who sing them... At Maxim's, Gaston sings knowingly of his waning romance with the 'pretty but common' Liane (Eva Gabor) 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 deliciously bizarre Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold) recall their past romance with 'I Remember It Well.' And, most of all, Louis Jourdan sings 'Gigi' sweeping the movie audience in its words and music.. Minnelli's exquisite 'Gigi' brought together all the best elements of musical movies into a delightful pastiche of sumptuous music, elegant dancing, and enchantingly memorable characters... He simply hit the jackpot with his choices in actors, guiding flawlessly their interpretations... This exquisite musical had a total of nine nominations and nine Oscars and awards in almost every category... It was highly unusual that none of the excellent cast received acting nominations... However, Maurice Chevalier was presented with a "Special Oscar."
Comedy / Musical / Romance
Comedy / Musical / Romance
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.
October 27, 2020