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Gigi

(1958 c 116')

En: 7 Ed: 7

Based on Colette’s novel and directed by Vincente Minnelli with songs by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, a French girl is taught how to become a woman and falls in love with an older friend who has been a playboy.

            In the late 19th century in Paris on a street surrounded by trees Honoré Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier) introduces himself as a lover who is not married. He points out some married ladies and younger women who are not. He sings, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.”

            Gigi (Leslie Caron) runs home to her grandmama Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold). Gigi wants to dance, but her grandmama says her mother took singing lessons. Gigi puts on a coat and leaves for her lessons with Aunt Alicia.

            Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan) in an ornate room is trying on a coat. He goes outside with Honoré, and they get in a carriage. Honoré advises his son to stay close to the young, and they sing, “It’s a Bore.”

            Gaston gets out of the carriage and visits Madame Alvarez. He asks if Alicia is a good influence on Gigi.

            Gigi is let in by Charles and kisses Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans) before sitting down to lunch. Alicia emphasizes good table manners and asks what she studied in school today. Alicia asks what friends she has made, and Gigi complains that her grandmama does not let her accept invitations. Alicia says that is correct. Alicia suggests getting married at last rather than at once. Later Alicia shows Gigi jewelry and asks her to identify the gems. Alicia advises her not to wear anything second-rate. She admires Gigi’s teeth and criticizes her features. Alicia says love is a work of art. She tells Gigi to work and walks away. Gigi sings, “The Parisians.”

            She walks outside while singing of the Parisians’ obsession with romance. Gaston stops his carriage and speaks to Gigi. She asks if he makes love all the time, and he says no. She says she is not his girl, and he persuades her to go with him.

            They go to an ice-skating rink and sit at a table. He orders drinks. She asks if a woman is scandalous. She says she is not to read novels or wear corsets. He asks what she thinks of Liane. Gigi says she is pretty but common. She leaves.

            Liane d’Exelmans (Eva Gabor) arrives and sits with Gaston. She says she is making progress with her teacher but does not like him. They leave.

            Honoré is at Maxim’s and is expecting Gaston and Liane. He says people there mind their own business. The people there sing, “Gossip.” Gaston and Liane come in and sit down next to Honoré. Gaston smokes a cigar and wonders what Liane is up to. Gaston sings, “Waltz at Maxim’s” with the refrain “She is not thinking of me.” He watches her dance with an older man.

            Honoré is being shaved at home by his valet Manuel (John Abbott) while Gaston vents his jealousy of Liane. He has hired a detective. Gaston is jealous of a skating instructor. Honoré and his valet discuss famous affairs. Gaston says he is glad to be rid of her. Honoré appeals to his honor and urges him not to let her have the last word. Honoré asks how he will end it, and Gaston says he will write a note or telephone her. Honoré advises him to throw her out, and they sing, “It’s a Bore” again.

            Gaston and Honoré find Liane and her man kissing in a park. After she leaves, they go to the man. Gaston insists that he come with them. The man asks for one thousand francs, and Gaston gives it to him. They are leaving when Liane calls to Gaston who says goodbye to her. She screams, and a newspaper reports the story.

            Alicia in bed hears the news on the phone and talks with grandmama about another suicide attempt. Honoré urges Gaston to go out with a different girl every night.

            Gaston calls on Honoré who congratulates him on his first suicide. They drink with the valet.

            Gaston dates various women at a nightclub, a flower show, a masked ball, and the opera.

            Gigi reads that Gaston was at the opera and invited the cast to his house. She answers the door and lets Gaston in. He asks Madame Alvarez what she is cooking and brought her caramels and champagne. Gigi shows him how to tear off the ends of string beans. She asks what he is having for dinner, but he tastes what is cooking. Madame invites him to stay for dinner, and he accepts. He gives Gigi a note to give to his chauffeur to take to his house, and she goes out. Madame says Gigi takes advantage of him, but he likes it. She asks about Honoré, and he says he is the same, chasing women. Madame understands his position is difficult. He says Paris is watching him.

            Later Gigi and Gaston are playing cards. He asks what she would like if he loses. She asks to see the ocean. Madame declines to give Gigi champagne. He analyzes her card playing and suspects she has two aces. He puts his cards down, but she wins. He agrees to take her and Madame to the shore. Gigi, Madame, and Gaston sing, “The Night They Invented Champagne.” Gigi and Gaston dance with her grandmama.

            Honoré sees Gaston and Gigi playing at the beach and nods to Madame Alvarez. Honoré observes the beauties. Gigi plays tennis against Gaston. They ride burros, but his won’t go. Madame laughs, and Honoré sits with her. She says she was watching him going after a pretty woman as she used to do. They laugh at Gaston falling off a burro. Honoré tells Madame that they had good times too. He says he was in love with her and wanted to marry her. He was so worried that he had to go with a soprano. At sunset they sing, “I Remember It Well.” She corrects his memory.

            Madame Alvarez calls on Alicia who wants to discuss serious matters concerning Gigi and Gaston. Alicia says that Gaston went to Monte Carlo and that gives them time for lessons for Gigi.

            Alicia teaches Gigi how to serve coffee, but Gigi spills it. Alicia instructs Gigi on how to walk and sit down. At table she shows how to hold a wine glass and sip. Alicia takes a cigar and smells it, but Gigi breaks hers.

            Alicia, Gigi, and Madame sit and watch two fashion models, and Madame chooses a dress that turns out to be too large.

            Gigi comes home to grandmama, and Gaston arrives. Gigi runs out as he says he has a present for her. He says Monte Carlo was boring. He brought caramels and eats one. Grandmama offers him tea and goes out. Gigi comes in wearing a white dress, and he objects to the high collar. She says he has no taste in clothes. He gets up, shows contempt for her education, and goes out. Grandmama complains about how Gigi criticized him. Gigi looks out the window at Gaston.

            Outside Gaston changes his mind and goes back and tells her that her new dress is not bad. He invites her on a drive for tea at the reservoir, but grandmama says she is sorry and sends Gigi to her room. Gaston asks what has changed. Grandmama says she has a duty to take care of  Gigi who is special. He has been giving her gifts, and she adores him. She warns him that others will see them together. She does not want Gigi labeled like that. He says it is ridiculous. Grandmama will only trust her to a man who says he will take care of her and her future. He says he is late and asks who she is keeping her for. He is angry and suggests she may marry a plumber. He says he pities them all and stalks out.

            Gaston goes to his car and asks his chauffeur if he looks upset. He walks by himself and sings, “Gaston’s Soliloquy” in which he denigrates young Gigi and then praises her. By a lake with swans he wonders about her changes and sings, “Gigi.” He walks back to her house and rings the bell.

            Gaston asks Madame Alvarez if she is alone and says he has an important business matter to discuss with her.

            Madame is sitting in a chair talking with Alicia who is in her bath. Alicia wants to know all the details of where Gigi will live. Madame said he suggested that they meet with their lawyers. He wants to have dinner with her that evening. Alicia advises her to warn Gigi. Grandmama says Gigi has no meanness at all.

            Gigi is in her room with a cat and answers the door. Gaston comes in and gives her a bouquet. She puts the flowers in a vase and sits next to him on the couch. He takes her hand and asks if she wants what he intends. He asks her what she does not want and what she does want. She says he wants to take care of her beautifully, but she thinks that means sleeping in his bed. He is embarrassed. She will have her photographs in the papers, and he will give her up. He asks where she got these stories. She says he is famous. He says that is all past and done. She says it will begin again. She does not feel she has a famous nature. She does not want to go into another gentleman’s bed. He asks if he does not please her, but she says she is happy when she is with him. She wants to go on as they are, and they could see each other more often. He admits that he is in love with her, and she says he never told her. He says he just discovered it. She says he is wicked and starts crying. Madame comes in and asks what is happening. Gaston says she does not want him. He is upset that she was not taught to be kind, and he leaves.

            Gaston finds Honoré at a restaurant and complains how people are these days. Gaston says he offered her everything—house, car, servants, and himself, but she turned him down. Gaston says grandmama was delighted, but Gigi rejected him. Honoré says they are a peculiar family. He was rejected also after having an affair. Honoré tells him not to go back, and Gaston agrees. Honoré says she is not worthy of him. He suggests they meet at Maxim’s, and Gaston says he will take out a redhead. Gaston leaves. Honoré drinks wine and sings, “I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore.”

            Madame talks on the phone to Alicia who starts getting dressed to go out. She goes in a carriage and walks in on Madame, asking her to repeat again that Gigi does not want him. They hear a woman practicing singing. Alicia asks what she said to Gigi. Why did she not tell about traveling to nice places. Madame says she has never been away from home. Alicia says love is an eternal spring, but Madame asks what happens after that spring is over. They hear the doorbell, and Madame lets Gaston come in. He says Gigi sent him a note that she wanted to see him. He talks with Alicia, and Gigi enters the room. She says she would rather be miserable with him than without him and goes back in her room. Gaston opens the door and leaves.

            Gaston is dressing and selects a diamond bracelet.

            Gigi in her nightgown is looking at her face in a mirror. She sings, “Say a Prayer for Me Tonight.” Dressed in a beautiful white evening gown, Gigi comes out of her room and embraces her grandmama and Alicia. Gigi answers the door and steps out with Gaston who closes the door and offers her his arm.

            Gaston and Gigi are noticed at Maxim’s. At a table he tells her plans of trips they can take. She says she likes to gamble and pours him more coffee. She chooses a cigar for him and lights it. She tells him about a lady and says her pearls are not real. He asks her to dance. Honoré comes in and says hello to them, sitting at another table. Gaston and Gigi dance, and he says he has a present for her. They return to the table, and she asks to see the present. He gives her a bracelet of diamonds and emeralds. She says he has good taste except in clothes. She goes off to try it on, and Honoré sits next to Gaston and asks if she changed her mind. Honoré says she is so young and will amuse him for months. Gaston says goodnight and leaves the table. He takes Gigi’s hand and leads her out.

            Gaston is pulling her up the stairs. Madame answers the door, and Gigi goes in crying and embraces her. Gaston leaves and walks at night by a fountain. He walks back up the stairs and rings the bell. Madame lets him in, and Gigi stands up. Madame asks him for no scandal. Gaston asks Madame if she will give him Gigi’s hand in marriage. Madame says, “Thank heaven.”

            Outside during the day Honoré sings “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” and Gaston and Gigi take a carriage.

            This musical depicts gay Paris in the late 19th century and how the men and women experience romance in an era of gentility in a culture that tolerated affairs. A charming young woman gambles on a man from a family with a history of romantic affairs because she likes being with him.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

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