1958 • Gigi

Thank heaven for little girls under seven!

Thank heaven for little girls under seven!

Watched with Lauren

Tuesday night, after another stimulating workout, Lauren and I returned home to watch our DVR’d American Idol while eating stir fry.  At 9pm, we felt we still had ample time left in the evening to watch the 1958 Best Picture winner, Gigi.

Here are some key plot words used to describe Gigi.  French.  Turn-of-the-century.  Musical.  Romance.  Based on that, I went into Gigi very hesitant.  Didn’t sound like my type of movie.  We already had one lavish romantic French musical in the 1950s with An American in Paris, after all.

Gigi started out with a fairly bizarre musical number, quickly gaining my attention.  It opens with an older man named Honorè singing a song about how he loves little girls, aged six to seven.  “Thank heaven for little girls!” he cries.  That probably wouldn’t have come off so pedophile-like in 1958, but in today’s movies a grown man dancing in a park singing that song may come off differently.

We soon meet Gigi, a young woman in her twenties, who is being taught how to be a proper lady by her aunt Alicia.  Gigi doesn’t seem terribly interested in learning proper etiquette and just wants to spend time with her grandmother’s much younger friend Gaston, the richest chap in all the land.

A musical number here and there and, you get the idea, Gaston falls for Gigi.  Gaston initially only wants Gigi to be his mistress, to take her to parties and give her lavish gifts.  But he soon discovers Gigi deserves better and asks for her hand in marriage.

The movie then ends with Honorè singing in the park once more, this time about how he loves watching little girls grow up into women.  Oh, okay, that seems less creepy.

In comparison to the other musicals of this time (An American in Paris, Going My Way), I thought the songs were catchier and more memorable and the acting was comparable, but the story was a little weaker.  The woman who played the role of Gigi, Leslie Caron, was excellent—very attractive and likable.

I think overall I liked Gigi more than expected, but it still wasn’t great.  Vincente Minelli was the master of these screen musicals.  At the same time, it was rather predictable and a little drawn out.  I originally thought it was an hour, 47 minutes long.  But when I realized I was wrong and it was actually nine more minutes, I was very disappointed.  I just wanted it to end so I could go to bed!  I would describe this movie as “charming but boring.”  Gigi is almost certainly in the bottom half of the list.

Next up, 1959’s Ben-Hur.

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