Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Gigi (1958)

Starring Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier & Louis Jourdan

Rating 7/10

Gigi is a young girl learning to be a woman… of sorts… a courtesan in gay Paris! Love, or something like it, is on the tips of all the lips around her. She is a girl who is desperately clinging to simpler ideals of it in a world where the word is used for pretty much anything below the belt as long as you have your manners, mind!

If you love Paris, you’ll love this film. It is as French as an American film can be. The actors are French, hip hip etc, so the accents are genuine. The backdrop is actually Paris, for the most part. And for those you have visited this beautiful city, you will have fun picking out all the landmarks you  have visited.

Besides all the surface stuff, this is a pretty ok film. It seems to share its roots with My Fair Lady which was a play at the time Gigi was made. It’s a story of a middle class girl (Caron), living with her grandmother (because her real mother couldn’t be bothered looking after her), whose aunt is training her to be a courtesan. Upper class family friend and all round ladies man, Gaston (Jourdan) is a frequent visitor at the apartment.

Poor little Gaston is bored with being so ridiculously rich and popular. He much prefers the company of these simple females with their home cooked meals and card games. To him, Gigi, is like a sister… until they visit the seaside, she gets all dolled up and he realises that he is in love with her. So, to Gigi’s horror, he suggests she become his mistress! In the end she agrees and he realises that he is so in love with her that he actually wants to marry her! Wedding bells and more songs!

Musicals make funny little films. You either sigh with frustration over another song or you sit back and sing along. The first song in this film is sung by an older gentleman, Honoré Lachaille (Chevalier), and it’s called ‘Thank Heaven for Little Girls’. With my modern eyes, it was a bit creepy, I must say. The rest of the songs were ok, no My Fair Lady, so a little sigh-worthy. The story and the characters didn’t engage me, rather it was the setting, the costumes, the accents and the sets that gave it the ‘wow’ factor.

Leslie Caron (from An American in Paris) always seems to overact but the character suited her… this time! I loved Gaston and the various socialites swanning around in their beautiful dresses. Look out for Zsa Zsa Gabor’s sister, Eva who plays Gaston’s woman, Liane d’Exelmans.

This was a rather light Oscar winner. A spot of fun, a splash of Paris, a sprinkling of colour, history and Frenchedness! It seems we have entered the ‘musical’ part of the Best Picture winners, so hold onto your brushes and warm up those vocal chords, because there’s more of this to come!

Gigi Trivia:

  • Budget – $3.3 million
  • Audrey Hepburn was the favourite to play Gigi but turned down the role.
  • Leslie Caron’s singing voice was dubbed by Betty Wand. Can’t say she did a great job, especially in one of the songs… but whatever!
  • The society scenes were filmed at a french restaurant, ‘Maxims’.
  • The cat in the song ‘Say a Prayer for me Tonight’ was drugged because it was misbehaving, going a bit crazy, and director Minnelli still wanted that particular animal! Um…. can anyone say ‘animal cruelty’. C’mon Vinnie.
  • This film was one of the few films in history to win all the Oscars it was nominated for (9)
  • Leslie Caron had to relearn her French accent after living in Britain for so long.
We now travel from Paris to Rome. Grab your toga and join us for riveting look at the eternal classic, Ben Hur, starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins and Haya Harareet.

2 comments on “Best Picture – Gigi (1958)

  1. Pingback: 1958 Oscar Winners | Guide to be a winner

  2. you know me
    May 17, 2011

    Just read the review wasn’t there a re make of this as well? That poor cat drugged,how rude

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