Watching: Gigi (1958)

Everything about Gigi is terrific: the clothes, the decor, the colors, the songs, the dialogue…I could watch it over and over. I wish I could find bits to show you off youtube but it’s not there. I would link to Maurice Chevalier singing “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” and for he and a lady (Hermione Gringold?) singing “I Remember it Well.” So well done, no wonder this movie won so many awards.

Based on a novel by Colette (every young woman read all of Colette in high school, right??? I did), the story is smart and sharp about the nature of relationships around 1900 in France. Marriage appears to be disregarded by members of high society, and kept-women enter wide-eyed into the relationship by having one’s lawyer write out a contract for him to sign; recompense is lavish and portable. Gigi’s guardian grandmother is content for her to become a kept woman, but Gigi (Leslie Caron) has other plans.

In one scene, again I wish I could show you but taking a photo of the television wouldn’t show the detail you need to see, Maurice Chevalier is at home getting a shave while wearing a gorgeous robe which is embroidered all over in cattails. It fits him perfectly through the shoulders and makes an aging man look so dapper; the embroidered design is all around the hem front and back and down the shawl collar. It’s on screen for less than 3 minutes, but exemplifies the attention to exquisite detail seen throughout. I could sit and make a list of all the furniture I’d like to find, but sadly I’ll never have an occasion to wear any of the dresses or I’d pick up a couple of those, too.

There’s also location shots, and interstitials that are either really drawn by Toulouse-Lautrec or are a good simulation. Was he still alive in 1957? I’m not sure. I seem to recall he died young.

Overall, if there’s anything about 1900 France that interests you, this is one to buy and keep.

One thought on “Watching: Gigi (1958)

  1. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec? d. 1901 at age 36

    I take no credit for “knowing” that, since we all have access to Wikipedia 😉

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