- Gigi (1958 film)
otheruses|Gigi (disambiguation) "Not to be confused with
name = Gigi
amg_id = 1:19761
imdb_id = 0051658
caption = French film poster
Colette(novel) Alan Jay Lerner(screenplay)
Leslie Caron Maurice Chevalier Louis Jourdan
Alan Jay Lerner(lyrics
Joseph Ruttenberg, ASC & Ray June
May 15, 1958
runtime = 119 min.
language = English
"Gigi" is a 1958 motion picture musical set in
Paris, France. The screenplay was written by Alan Jay Lerner, with music by Alan Jay Lerner(lyrics) and Frederick Loewe(music). It is based on the bestselling novellaof the same name by French author Colette, which was first adapted for the screen with Danièle Delormein 1949. In 1951, Anita Loosadapted the novel as a play for the stage, and the Broadway production starred Audrey Hepburnin her first major role. Seven years later, producer Arthur Freedapproached Lerner about writing a feature film musical adaptation.
"Gigi" proved to be a major critical and commercial success and the winner of nine
Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In 1991, "Gigi" was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registryby the Library of Congressas being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." It is considered the last great MGMmusical, and the last great achievement of the Freed Unit, headed by producer Arthur Freed, although he would go on to produce several more films, including the musical " Bells Are Ringing" in 1960. The film also spawned a stage musical, produced on Broadway in 1973.
Background and production
The idea was proposed by Hollywood producer Arthur Freed during the Philadelphia tryout of "
My Fair Lady". Lerner owed Arthur one more film based on the contract he had signed with MGM, so he read Colette's novella and agreed to adapt "Gigi" for the screen. Lerner had a short list of stars with whom he wished to work before his career was over: Audrey Hepburn(who starred in the non-musical Broadway version of "Gigi"), Fred Astaire(who had worked with Lerner on "Royal Wedding"), and Maurice Chevalier. After reading the novella, Lerner thought Chevalier would be perfect for the role of Uncle Honoré. However, Lerner was left without a composer. Lerner's collaborator, Frederick Loewe, had vowed never to work in movies, but he was charmed by the book and agreed to collaborate on the project, working in France. After a few songs were finished, the duo contacted Chevalier, who loved the songs and agreed to act in the film. Hearing a new melody while in the bathroom during one session, Lerner jumped up, " [his] trousers still clinging to [his] ankles, and made his way to the living room. 'Play that again,' he said. And that melody ended up being the title song for "Gigi"." [Lerner, Alan Jay. "The Street Where I Live". 1978, W.W. Norton & Company, pages 161-62 "GiGi," the title song, is actually the song "MiMi" from the 1932 film 'Love Me Tonight,' with only the name changed, the melody and other lyrics remaining the same.It was written by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart. (see 'Love Me Tonight' directed by Rouben Mamoulian. ISBN 0-393-07532-X]
The entire film was written, cast, and ready to shoot in four and a half months, except for two songs ("I'm Glad I'm Not Young Any More" and "The Night They Invented Champagne"), which were written in California. Most of the film was shot on location in Paris, but the last few numbers took place in an apartment that MGM decided to construct in the studio in Hollywood. The cast had eight days off between locations, and everyone disappeared except Maurice Chevalier who flew directly to the studio to begin working with Lerner and Loewe on his final songs. At the completion of the film, there was a standard "sneak" preview at a small theater in Santa Barbara. Lerner and Loewe were dissatisfied and offered to buy a percentage of the film, and then to buy the print. (Lerner, pages 175-76). The studio eventually agreed to make changes, and quickly re-shot with some rewritten scenes, re-edited, and re-orchestrated the film. Another preview was held, and the audience reacted not only with appreciation but with affection. The film opened in New York in the spring of 1958 to glowing reviews. The film went on to win the Academy Award for every category in which it was nominated; a total of nine Oscars, more than any other film at that point in Academy Award history. The awards included Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Song, and Best Picture. Maurice Chevalier, although not nominated for an acting award, received a Special Award "for all the joy he had brought to the screen during his lifetime."
"Gigi" is often identified as the film that marked the end of MGM's production of classic musicals; for example, it is referenced in this conclusionary capacity in two of the three "
That's Entertainment!" retrospective documentaries. In fact, MGM continued to produce popular musicals into the 1960s, and Arthur Freed himself would produce one more hit musical for the studio, the 1960 version of "Bells Are Ringing". "Gigi" was, however, the last MGM-produced musical (to date) to receive extensive critical acclaim and awards.
As the show opens, Honoré Lachaille (
Maurice Chevalier) explains that in turn-of-the-century Paris, marriage is not the only option ("Thank Heaven for Little Girls"). Gaston Lachaille ( Louis Jourdan), Honoré's nephew, is a rich "bon vivant" much like his uncle. But Gaston is bored with the high life and his series of mistresses ("It's a Bore"). The one thing he truly enjoys is spending time with one of his uncle's old "friends," Madame Alvarez ( Hermione Gingold), whom he calls Mamita, and especially her granddaughter, the precocious, carefree Gilberte or "Gigi" ( Leslie Caron).
Madame Alvarez sends Gigi to her Aunt Alicia's (
Isabel Jeans) (Madame Alvarez' well-off sister) to be groomed as a "grande cocotte" (i.e. a courtesan) in their family's tradition, and learn etiquette and charm. Gigi is initially a very poor student, as she does not understand the reasons behind her education and finds Parisians' obsession with making love inexplicable ("The Parisians"). She does, however, enjoy spending time with Gaston, whom she regards as an elder brother.
After Gaston publicly embarrassed his cheating mistress, and tried to rebuild his reputation with endless parties (by advice of Honoré), he decides to take a small vacation by the sea. After telling Gigi, she wagers him that if she wins at cards he must take her and Mamita along. He accepts, and she happily wins ("The Night They Invented Champagne").
It is on this vacation that Gigi and Gaston spend many hours together, Gaston no longer bored with life. It is also found out that Honoré and Mamita were once involved, and are now comfortable friends ("I Remember It Well").
When Alicia discovers that Gaston took Gigi and Madame Alvarez on holiday, she is incensed that her sister could do such a thing without consulting her, and insists that Gigi's education must increase dramatically if she is to catch a prize such as Gaston. Mamita is shocked, but sees the advantages it could bring Gigi and so goes along with the plan—though neither tell Gigi of their scheming. Gigi is miserable in her lessons, but puts up with them as a necessary evil, though she still seems awkward and bumbling to her perfectionist great-aunt.
A short time later, Gaston visits and is shocked to see Gigi in a rather alluring white gown. He tells her she looks ridiculous and storms out, but returns later and apologizes, wishing to make it up by taking her to dinner. Mamita refuses, telling Gaston that with his reputation, a young girl seen in his company might be labeled in such a way as could damage her future. Gaston is enraged yet again, storms out, and wanders the streets of Paris in a fury ("Gaston's Soliloquy").
It is during this rant that Gaston realizes that he has fallen in love with Gigi, and she is no longer the child he thought her to be ("Gigi"). He returns to Mamita and strikes a business arrangement to take Gigi as his mistress, promising to provide the girl with luxury and kindness. He visits Gigi later, but she tells him she does not wish to become someone's mistress; she wants more for herself than to be passed between men, only desired until they grow tired of her and she moves on to another. Gaston is horrified at this portrayal of the life he wishes to give her, and leaves stunned. Later, however, Gigi contacts him; when Gaston returns, Gigi says she would "rather be miserable with [him] than without [him] ."
Later that night, Gigi emerges from her room prepared to accept her fate and take up her role as Gaston's mistress ("Say a Prayer for Me Tonight"). For the first time, she appears as a woman, not a young girl. Gaston is enchanted when he picks Gigi up and takes her to dinner at one of Paris' most famous restaurants, Maxim's. Gigi's awkwardness is gone and she seems perfectly at ease. Nevertheless, patrons' stares make Gaston extremely uncomfortable as he realizes Gigi's interpretation of things may have been accurate after all, and discovers his love for her makes the idea of her as his mistress, an unbearable one. Angered by Honoré's comments, Gaston leaves the party with Gigi in tow, taking her home without explanation. A weeping Gigi begs to know what she has done to offend him, but Gaston does not answer. He leaves Gigi in the arms of her Grandmother, and leaves confused and upset. After walking around Paris in the middle of the night visibly trying to make up his mind, he arrives at Mamita's and humbly asks for Gigi's hand in marriage. The closing scene shows a happily married Gaston and Gigi strolling in the park together, as Honoré looks on approvingly ("Thank Heaven for Little Girls Reprise").
*"Thank Heaven for Little Girls" — Maurice Chevalier
*"It's a Bore" — Louis Jourdan, Maurice Chevalier
*"The Parisians" — Leslie Caron (vocal by
*"Waltz at Maxim's (She Is Not Thinking of Me)" — Louis Jourdan
*"The Night They Invented Champagne" — Leslie Caron (vocal by Betty Wand), Hermione Gingold, Louis Jourdan
*"I Remember It Well" — Hermione Gingold, Maurice Chevalier
*"Gaston's Soliloquy" — Louis Jourdan
*"Gigi" — Louis Jourdan
*"I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore" — Maurice Chevalier
*"Say a Prayer for Me Tonight" — Leslie Caron (vocal by Betty Wand)
*"Thank Heaven for Little Girls" — (finale) Maurice Chevalier and Chorus("Source: [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051658/soundtrack] ")
Leslie Caron: Gigi
Maurice Chevalier: Honoré Lachaille
Louis Jourdan: Gaston Lachaille
Hermione Gingold: Grandmama
Eva Gabor: Liane d'Exelmans
Jacques Bergerac: Sandomir
Isabel Jeans: Aunt Alicia
The film was nominated for an Oscar in nine categories, and won all nine. A tenth Oscar (honorary) went to
Academy Award for Best Picture
Academy Award for Directing( Vincente Minnelli)
* Academy Award for Set Decoration, Black-and-White or Color – (
E. Preston Ames, F. Keogh Gleason, Henry Grace, and William A. Horning)
Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color ( Joseph Ruttenberg)
Academy Award for Costume Design, Black-and-White or Color ( Cecil Beaton)
Academy Award for Film Editing( Adrienne Fazan)
* Academy Award Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture (
* Best Music, Song (
Alan Jay Lerner(lyrics), Frederick Loewe(music) - For the song "Gigi")
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay( Alan Jay Lerner)
Golden Globe Awards
Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
* Golden Globe Award for Best Director (Vincente Minnelli)
* Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (
Hermione Gingold)Golden Globe nominations
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy( Leslie Caron)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy( Maurice Chevalier)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy( Louis Jourdan)
* Writers Guild of America for Best Written American Musical (
Alan Jay Lerner)
* Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Vincente Minnelli & assistant,
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media( André Previn)
American Film Instituteranked "Gigi' '#35 in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions.
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