Filled Under: Leslie Caron
“This story is about a little girl. It could be about any one of those little girls playing there. But it isn’t. It’s about one in particular. Her name is Gigi.” ~ Honore Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier)
“Gigi” is a 1958 musical film produced by Arthur Freed and directed by Vincente Minnelli. The screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner is based on the 1944 novella of the same name by Colette. Set in turn-of-the-20th century Paris, a rich playboy Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan) and a young courtesan-in-training Gigi (Leslie Caron) enjoy a platonic friendship. Gaston, the heir of a wealthy Parisian family enjoys refuge from the lifestyle of an upper class Parisian 1900s society with Madame Alvarez (Hermoine Gingold) who was the former mistress of his uncle Honore Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier) and her outgoing, tomboy granddaughter, Gigi. She enjoys spending time with Gaston, whom she regards as an elder brother. Madame Alvarez sends Gigi to her sister, Gigi’s Great Aunt Alicia to be groomed as a courtesan and learn etiquette and charm. The young girl initially is a very poor student who fails to understand the reasons behind her education. As Gaston becomes more aware that Gigi has matured into a woman, her grandmother Madame Alvare and great aunt Alicia, who have educated Gigi to be a wealthy man’s mistress, urge the pair to act out their roles as wealthy playboy and courtesan. Young Gigi, not thrilled with the outlook of a courtesan’s life, relunctantly agrees as she would rather be “miserable with him as miserable without him”, but as with all MGM musicals of that time love has a way of overcoming all.
“Gigi” (1958) Trailer
“Gigi” won what was at the time a record-breaking 9 Academy Awards at the 1959 Awards ceremony, including the Oscar for Best Picture and one for Best Director (Vincente Minelli). “Gigi” also won three Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy, for Best Dirctor (Vincente Minelli), and for Best Supporting Actress-Motion Picture (Hermione Gingold). Leslie Caron was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress-Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jourdan were nominated for Golden Globes for Best Actor-Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
In 1991, Gigi was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The American Film Institute ranked it #35 in AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Passions.
Gigi is considered the last great MGM musical and the final 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.