Gigi (1958)

I’d originally planned to pair a different movie with my first selection this week, but it just so happened to fit in quite well with my month-long theme for August, so I decided to make a last-minute substitution.  That’s where Gigi comes in.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I fundamentally find musicals kind of boring.  The songs in musicals tend to be great expository blocks that could have been summed up in a couple of lines of dialogue.  “Oh, I find my wealthy playboy life unsatisfactory and boring,” says Gaston the wealthy playboy, but instead we need a show-stopping number to drive the point home.  And what is it anyway with romances that start with at least one character who is cynical about ever falling in love?  Maybe the most important lesson to learn is that if you want to live a romantic life, you should start out by being as unromantic as possible.

On the other hand, the thing I do enjoy about musicals (since my mind tends to wander so easily during the song) is imagining what it would be like if people just went around in real life breaking out into song.  There you are, catching Pokémon in the park, and suddenly a dude sitting on the bench behind you starts going on with “Bellsprouts are ringing in my heart” or something.  You’d think he was loony.

In terms of this film, I’d like to point out another pet peeve I’ve noticed in old movies:  the Creepy Old Guy Who Leers at Young Girls.  Uncle Honore (curious name for an aging French bachelor) narrates the story at the beginning, looking remarkably like Sam the Snowman in the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Christmas special, originating in the same era.  Though he is certainly in his 60s or older by that point, he starts off with a song thanking heaven for “little girls.”  Also, the little girl he’s talking about is the one who ends up marrying his nephew, just in case it wasn’t tasteless enough to ogle any random girl.  Oh, but such is life in the 1950s.  Or the 1900s, when this film is supposed to be set.

I’d seen in some ranking that this movie was considered to be nearly at the bottom of the pile of all the Oscar winners.  In truth, I was expecting it to be much worse.  Though it wasn’t really to my taste – I’d rather see witty banter than drawn-out songs – it wasn’t really any worse than the other musicals of that same era.  I consider this to be on part with An American in Paris or even My Fair Lady.  At least the male romantic lead had some endearing qualities.

One thing, though, for which I think Gigi is rightfully praised is the look of it – the costumes, the set pieces, the artistic art cards to introduce scenes in a party montage.  There’s one little shot of the shore in waning light, with Gigi and Gaston dragging donkeys along the beach (don’t ask) that just looks really nice.

I’m just glad it all works out for Gigi in the end, and she can spend the rest of her life pouring coffee and lighting Gaston’s cigars.  True romance.

 

Theme:  Classic romantic comedy

First Time Watching?  Yes

Final Verdict:  I’d rather be miserable with you than without you.

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