I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gigi, 1958










Not Rated

I had the pleasure of watching this film with my sister who is visiting for part of the summer. Being two French girls who enjoy musicals, we thought it would be appropriate to see together. Neither of us was very invested in the first half and we were probably too critical. But, we did enjoy the second half more the next day.

Leslie Caron plays the courtesan-in-training Gigi. (I’ll be watching the film that made her famous later: Best Picture winner “An American in Paris”.) She takes lessons from her great Aunt Alicia, whose bedroom looked like the inside of a Victoria’s Secret store circa 1999.

Louis Jourdan plays the rich playboy Gaston Lachaille. (I wondered if Disney chose that name for the archetypal good-looking and sought-after playboy/villain of “Beauty and the Beast” because of this movie.) He proclaims that everything “is a bore.” He’s especially bored with women, hence the playboy reputation. Side note: I was going to knock the romantic leads’ French accents until I read online that they were indeed born in France. Oops. =/

Honoré Lachaille, Gaston’s uncle and influential guide to the ladies, is a consummate playboy and reminded me a bit of Hugh Hefner. He’s most known for his opening song “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” (which I had no idea came from this movie!). But perhaps the song my sister and I got the biggest kick out of was “I Remember it Well” which is a duet he "sings" when he is reminiscing with his old flame about their last date. The lyrics go on to reveal he does everything BUT remember it well. He used to date Gigi’s grandmother, hence the families' continued friendship… It took me a while to figure out why Gaston was frequenting Gigi’s grandmother’s house for friendly conversation and snacks.

I could already tell where the movie was going romantically and I was thinking I’d be a little creeped out if Gaston and Gigi got together at the end. The age and maturity difference made their relationship seem too much like a sibling’s. But, being the hopeless romantic I am, I eventually found myself rooting for them as a couple.

It’s impossible not to see hints of “My Fair Lady” in this movie since both the costumer and composers were the ones working on the stage version of that show. They were recruited to work on Gigi’s musical film adaptation from the Broadway non-musical version. The storyline also shares a slight likeness: grooming the unlikely girl to be deserving of the man of wealth. But other than those similarities, this musical doesn’t hold a candle to the musical numbers and acting talents of the film “My Fair Lady.”

This is another movie where the songs aren’t actually sung. They are more spoken to the beat of the music. I found it a little frustrating to hear the melody behind their voices and know the actors were not hitting the notes. Perhaps the actors were hired on their acting ability or famous faces alone, and not their singing talents.

Eva Gabor played Gaston’s last girlfriend who unsuccessfully commits suicide (supposedly for the fourth time) upon their break-up. One could say she’s a bit dramatic. It’s hard for me not to associate her voice with the characters she gives life to in Disney’s “The Aristocats” and “The Rescuers”. And speaking of voices (and “Beauty and the Beast”), the consummate playboy Honoré  sounded like Lumiére. I half expected him to wave his gold walking stick around and bust out “Be Our Guest”. 

“Gigi” was up against “Auntie Mame”, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, “The Defiant Ones”, and “Separate Tables”. It won nine of its nine nominations, which was the most won by any film to date. Sadly for them, they only held that honor for a year. They also won Best Director, Screenplay, Color Cinematography, Art/Set Direction, Song, Musical Score, Costume Design, and Editing. I’m a bit surprised it won all these accolades… I didn’t think it was THAT wonderful, but I haven’t seen any of its competitors.

FAVORITE SCENE:

There are very few screen shots online, so I can’t find the image that made me laugh the hardest. When Gaston takes Gigi and her grandmother to Trouville for a vacation, there is a montage of scenes of them playing tennis, riding horses on the beach, swimming, etc. There is one shot where an extra is “playing” tennis. Imagine this if you can: She is simply standing still in the middle of the court wearing her 1900’s elaborate garb extending her racket-weilding arm and hitting the tennis balls that repeatedly head her way in the exact location for her to make perfect contact (almost) every time. You could imagine the poor sap on the other side of the court running all over the place to ensure that precision. I envision this is how I would like to play tennis. It had me laughing out loud.

The other scene my sister and I liked was right before that, when Gaston announces he will take them on vacation. They collectively sing “The Night They Invented Champagne” and dance around the grandmother’s house. It made me want to join them in the drinking and dancing.


LESSONS LEARNED:

Find somebody who’s not a bore. Surround yourself with people who enjoy your company and vice versa.

Don’t be surprised to find love in the unexpected. This can be true of a future spouse or even a friend.

3 comments:

  1. Not only find someone who's not a bore, but life ISN'T a bore. If you think it is, you are being greedy, selfish, and unappreciative. I think that's a more important lesson.

    Yeah, it was super funny that almost all of the songs were spoken. I think the most melodic voice was Gigi's. When she sang, it was almost like singing. I think I chuckled out loud to every song because I have never encountered a MUSICAL that wasn't sung.

    Overall, I'm glad we watched it, and you're right, it was a good movie for us to see together since we are filles francais.

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  2. Whose lessons are these anyway? Lol.... yes, life shouldn't be a bore either, but finding someone or some people who aren't boring will make sure that your life isn't boring.

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  3. it's relative. no one is boring. but lots of people are boring to you and me.

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