Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1958 direct-to-screen follow-up to their My Fair Lady was--miraculously--every bit as memorable as that stage smash. Set in fin-de-siècle Paris and based on a Colette story, Gigi also ... more »is about a girl (Leslie Caron) on a lower rung of society who blossoms into Cinderellahood before our eyes and ears. Thank heaven for Hermione Gingold and Maurice Chevalier as her mentors, and Louis Jourdan as her prince. The screenplay writer and lyricist Lerner always said that Gigi's title song was his favorite of all he'd written, and it's easy to see why--"Gigi" is a transcendent anthem to being transformed by love from an unexpected source. The entire score, including "Say a Prayer" (which had been cut from My Fair Lady), "I Remember It Well," "The Night They Invented Champagne," and "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," comprise a sparkling, rare soundtrack recording that stands alone and can be enjoyed and understood by those who have not yet seen the movie, deprived souls that they are. The winner of nine Academy Awards (plus a special Oscar for Chevalier), including Best Picture, Gigi was the last great MGM movie musical and one of the best. --Robert Windeler« less
Allen Smalling | Chicago, IL United States | 09/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review is of the DVD. If you haven't seen this 1958 classic in widescreen format, you really haven't seen it. Director Vincente Minnelli (Liza's father) fills each frame beautifully, often composing scenes reminiscent of the impressionist painters he so loved, such as Renoir or Seurat. Letterbox-haters, this is a good test of the superiority of seeing a movie the way the director intended, not crammed into the 1:1.33 TV screen. (The DVD includes both versions, so comparison comes cheap.) The year is 1900. Gigi (Leslie Caron) is a pubescent young woman who becomes more and more attractive to millionaire Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jordan). But Gigi's family has a tradition of "Instead of marrying at once, it sometimes happens we get married at last." Making the tradition from pre-teen to beautiful young woman, awkward Gigi is "trained" in the arts of catering to men, such as choosing a cigar, walking elegantly and pouring coffee in the best French manner. The payoff for this kind of training is to occupy a rich young gentleman's bed--until he tires of this courtesan and moves on. While still in favor, the lady in question lives in luxurious style: tutor Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans) advises her charge to "Wait for the first-class jewels, Gigi. Hold on to your ideals." The team of Lerner and Loewe wrote songs for this musical that include such favorites as "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" and "The Night They Invented Champagne." On its initial release "Gigi" was touted as the cinematic equivalent of their smash Broadway play "My Fair Lady," as the movie trailer on this DVD makes apparent. Gigi won a slew of Oscars, beating out the presumed favorite, Susan Heyward in "I Want to Live." It is no mistake that the compilation film of MGM's best musicals, "That's Entertainment," features Gigi as the last chronological example of the MGM high-quality, lavish musical. Minnelli would go on to direct many more films, including the 1960 musical "Bells Are Ringing" with Judy Holliday and Dean Martin, but "Gigi" was really MGM's "swan song" for expensive musicals, which were getting harder and harder to mount because of television and changing musical tastes (like Elvis). With a lot of begging and pleading from the director and producer, the studio spent enough money in Hollywood to duplicate Maxim's restaurant and the Ice Gallery, a favorite meeting-place for the 1900 elite. Minnelli's visual wit is visible in the way he frequently uses real Parisian backgrounds of fountains and statuary, indirectly symbolizing and commenting on the mental state of the actor in front. The whole cast is marvelous, including Hermione Gingold as Gigi's grandmother and the incomparable Maurice Chevalier as Gaston's uncle, Honore Lachaille. It is small wonder that this film is the very favorite--or close to it--among lovers of musicals. "Gigi" is first-class all the way. Even people who don't often purchase musicals may well enjoy the film for its masterly visual style and recreation of turn-of-the (last) century Paris. What more can I say? Get ahold of this film RIGHT NOW while the price is so good. I don't think you'll regret it."
Loads of extras on 2-Disc Special Edition
Dave | San Diego, CA | 07/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those wondering why they should purchase another edition of "Gigi" on DVD, here are all the extras; however, if you own a Blu-ray, you might want to wait and pre-order Gigi [Blu-ray]. Other than the technical specs, the extras are the same on both versions.
Winner of 9 Oscars, "Gigi" was produced after the demise of the original 3-Strip Technicolor system, and photographed in the industry-standardized Eastmancolor process, which had a tendency to fade to reds and purples. For this new DVD release, Gigi has been photo-chemically restored from its original camera negative and safety separations to produce a much sharper and colorful image than has been seen in decades. It also contains a 5.1 audio mix created from the original multi-track source elements.
Disc 1 (Gigi '58): 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen * English DD5.1 Surround * French Mono * English, French and Japanese subtitles * Bluray specs: 1080P 2.40:1 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 5.1, French 2.0, Spanish 1.0 (Both Castilian and Latin), German 1.0, Italian 1.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles (Main Feature): English, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, Subtitles (on Select Bonus Material): English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese
*New Commentary with Leslie Caron & Film Historian Jeanine Basinger
*The Million Dollar Nickel [1952 MGM short]
*The Vanishing Duck [1958 MGM cartoon]
Disc 2: "Thank Heaven! The Making of Gigi" The story of how 1958's Best Picture winner (the last of the classic MGM musicals) survived a turbulent production that included censorship battles over its daring sexual content and creative struggles between a studio in turmoil and a demanding, visionary director. Featuring an all-new interview with star Leslie Caron, and a rare interview with Oscar-winning director Minnelli Original 1949 Nonmusical version of Gigi starring Daniele Delorme in the title role and directed by Jacqueline Audry (in French Mono with English subtitles)
For those not familiar with the plot, Gaston (Louis Jordan) is the descendant of a wealthy Parisian family who rebels from the superficial lifestyle of upper class Parisian 1900s society by socializing with the former mistress (Hermoine Gingold) of his uncle (Maurice Chevalier) and her outgoing, tomboy granddaughter, Gigi (Leslie Caron). When Gaston becomes aware that Gigi has matured into a woman, her grandmother and aunt (Isabel Jeans), who have educated Gigi to be a wealthy man's mistress, enjoin on him to become her provider and on her to accept such a golden opportunity. However, true love adds a surprise twist to this Cinderella story that was actually filmed in Paris."
The Last Great Golden-Age Musical
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 04/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although MGM and other studios would continue in the genre for several more years, GIGI is the last great musical of Hollywood's golden age. It is also one of the few titles consistently mentioned when critics dispute which film should be considered the single finest musical ever created by Hollywood, a film that rivals the likes of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN and MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. Based on a novella by Colette, GIGI tells the story of a French family of the belle epoch--a family, it seems, of women who have made their living from the favors of famous men. Still something of a gawky schoolgirl, Gigi (Leslie Caron) is being trained to become a courtesan, and when she suddenly blossoms she captures the heart of Paris sophistocate Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan.) But much to her family's horror, when the arrangements are completed Gigi suddenly declines!The cast is absolutely flawless. Caron was born to play Gigi, and is as charming as the awkward youth as she is as the suddenly beautiful young woman; Jourdan's appeal as the worldly and world weary Gaston is tremendous. But the real joy of the cast is in its supporting cast, which includes Maurice Chevalier as Gaston's uncle; Hermione Gingold and Isabel Jeans as Gigi's grandmother and great aunt; and Eva Gabor as Gaston's current mistress. Chevalier and Gingold play their roles with precisely the right mixture of charm and severity, and their duet "I Remember It Well" is among the highlights of the film, while Jeans and Gabor give such memorable comic turns that their small roles become as memorable as the leads.The Learner & Lowe score is equal their great Broadway success MY FAIR LADY, and offers such enjoyable and memorable songs as "Gigi" and "The Night They Invented Champagne," and the script equals and merges with the music to considerable effect. Filmed largely on location in Paris, the look of the film is incredibly rich, and director Vincent Minnelli maintains a sprightly sense of humor with just enough darkness behind the bubbles to make us aware of the seriousness of the tale. Mixing intimacy with tremendous surface splash, GIGI is a cultural treasure, a film to enjoy and cherish forever and certainly a worthy contender for that disputed title of "Hollywood's finest musical." A personal favorite and highly, highly recommended."
Fabulous movie, but something's missing from this edition...
2mille | Renton, WA United States | 01/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Lerner and Loewe, and the scrumptious Nouveau brilliance of Cecil Beaton...what's not to like? I love this movie, and have owned this edition for some time. However, it seems to be missing two segments that I recall from seeing the movie in the theater at revivals: 1) There's an extended soft-focus montage of shots of Gigi in the middle of the musical number, "Gigi," in which Gaston (Louis Jourdan) is supposedly flooded with memories of the girl and realizes he's been in love with her for some time. This appears to have been cut from this DVD edition. 2) Though I can't be 100% certain, I believe Gigi wanders around the gardens a bit more, before launching into "I Don't Understand the Parisians," harumphing at length about her countrymens' insatiable appetite for amour. I don't see this on the DVD either. The DVD itself is pretty stripped-down, with virtually no extra features (except for some footage of an opening-night gala).
Many negative reviews here have commented on the inaccessibilities of a story set more than a century ago in a remote culture, or the inappropriate relationship between Gaston, ostensibly in his mid-30s, and the 15-year-old (in the Colette novella, anyway) Gigi. I suppose everything has to be about us, our times, and our mores?
"Thank heaven," not every story is about our own lives, our own cultures, or our own times. Life would be unbearably dull if all the world's stories were updated to add that focus-group-tested current of feminism, or attitudes about relations between the sexes that were carefully shopped by marketing flunkies to reflect prevailing American tastes. This story is a macro-focus view of a unique sliver of history and culture that, had it not been for Colette's sketch of it, none of us here would have any experience of, whatsoever. It might flatter us to have Caron, in her 1900 couture, suddenly rattle off pert Rory Gilmore-isms about dating and equality, but is that why we read and watch movies? To be flattered? To have ourselves and our beliefs reflected back at us, without exception? I'd hope not!!"
Enchanting Musical Filled With Memorable Songs!
Bertin Ramirez | San Ysidro, California United States | 06/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a musical delight. Vincent Minnelli always had his eye out for perfection when it came to making his musicals and this one comes close. The beautiful and exotic Leslie Caron shines as Gigi. But it is Maurice Chevalier who steals every scene he's in and gets to sing 'Thank Heaven For Little Girls' which is my favorite out of the whole movie. Louis Jordan is also great as Gigi's admirer. Unusually high quality music and songs, thanks to the musical geniuses Lerner & Loewe. The film has a timelessness and a charm that is sadly missing in today's films, this was the last great MGM Musical. From a scale of 1-10 I give this film a 9!"