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Film / Gigi

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"Thank heaven for little girls
for little girls get bigger every day!
Thank heaven for little girls
they grow up in the most delightful way!"
Honoré Lachaille, singing the most famous number
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A 1958 MGM movie musical based on the 1944 novella by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, Gigi was directed by Vincente Minnelli and written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, following their success on My Fair Lady. Starring Leslie Caron as the eponymous Gigi and Maurice Chevalier as the narrator Honoré, the film won all nine of its Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, breaking the record set by Gone with the Wind.note 

Gaston is a rich Parisian who wants to break from the stultifying traditions of his family. He finds refuge in his time with Madame Alvarez and her tomboy-ish granddaughter, Gigi, a sincere and happy teen, raised by her refined great-aunt and grandmother to be a rich man's courtesan. For quite a while, the two see each other as good friends, nothing more. Over time, Gaston comes to the realization that Gigi has grown up. Can he really bear to take her as his mistress in a transactional relationship?

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Betty Wand filled in for most of Leslie Caron's singing.

Not to be confused with Gigli.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the novella Gigi has ash blonde hair and blue eyes. Both Audrey Hepburn (who played Gigi in the stage play) and Leslie Caron are brunettes, and Hepburn has brown eyes.
  • All-Knowing Singing Narrator: Honoré Lachaille.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: of a novel by Colette.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Honoré addressing the camera on multiple occasions.
  • Cool Old Guy: Honoré.
  • Costume Porn
  • Disappeared Dad: Gigi's father, never even mentioned. Given her mother and grandmother's professions his identity is probably dubious.
  • Fashion Show
  • The Film of the Book: Colette was an insanely successful writer in her day, beginning with the scandalous Claudine at School, written when she was about Gigi's age. Gigi was only one of her many, many bestsellers. Today, if it weren't for this film, she might be largely forgotten, at least by English speakers.note 
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  • Fourth Date Marriage: Averted. While Gaston and Gigi go on maybe one date before the proposal, they've known each other for most of their lives, and have gone on several non-dates.
  • The Gay '90s: This film, its predecessor film and stage adaptations, and the original novella, are all dripping with nostalgie for la Belle Epoque.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Well, it is The Gay '90s, after all...
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen / The Voice: Gigi's mother, who left the family tradition of prostitution to become an opera singer, and is occasionally heard off-stage, practicing her arpeggios.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Calling her a "courtesan" makes it sound nicer. What's amazing is that Gigi's grandmother and aunt look down on Gigi's mother for getting a job instead of following family tradition and becoming a fancy prostitute, though admittedly they're probably more condemning of the fact that said job brings in so little money. Remember that courtesans were a high step above prostitutes; they moved in distinguished circles, chose their own clients, maintained their own flats and could rake in a considerable fortune. Gigi's mother, by contrast, is "slaving away at the Opéra Comique in ridiculous little roles." Who can blame Grandmama for being annoyed?
  • Idle Rich: Gaston is so bored with life as an ultra-rich man in Paris that he has a whole number on the subject: "It's a Bore". His disinterest in such shallow living is what makes him seek out the genuine, good company of Mamita and Gigi, thus giving us the setting of the film.
  • Love Epiphany: Gaston has one for Gigi in the title song.
  • Loving Details: Parodied in the song "I Remember It Well." Honoré tries to convince Mamita that she's the love of his life by reciting details about their last evening together (before he cheated on her), but he gets them all wrong. She, on the other hand, remembers the details perfectly and corrects him each time he makes a mistake.
  • The Mistress: The role Gigi is being groomed for. Mamita prefers the term "courtesan."
  • One-Woman Song: "Gigi."
  • Parental Abandonment: Gigi's father is never mentioned—unless he is the "young man with all those flour mills" whom her grandmother almost implies to be him (especially given Gigi's reaction when she says this)—and her mother "has neither the mind nor the inclination to take care of her" being absorbed by being a second-rate opera singer. Gigi was raised by her grandmother.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Given all the upper class characters, not to mention designed by the famous Cecil Beaton, several of these are worn throughout the film.
  • Pretty in Mink: Gaston sees one of his girlfriends with another man. The girlfriend is wearing a gray fur wrap and hat.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Pygmalion Plot
  • Rich Boredom: Gaston (see Idle Rich above).
  • Running Gag: Gigi's mother, who never appears on-screen, is a chorus member in a comic opera company. Three times in the course of the movie she's heard practicing her vocal scales in another room, and each time someone else closes the door to block out the noise.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: Later got a stage version in the seventies.
  • She Is All Grown Up: The whole point of the plot, basically lampshaded in its title number.
  • Vague Age: It's never clear how old Gigi is meant to be. She dresses like a young girl (in particular she wears her hair down, which girls generally did until they were fifteen or sixteen). At times she seems remarkably childlike and is treated like a child by the other characters, but over the course of the film, and truly it’s entire plot, shows the various characters realizing that Gigi has grown up and is more mature than they realized.
  • Wham Line: "She'll keep you amused for months!"
    • This further deepens Gaston’s Love Epiphany as he realizes his affection for Gigi is significantly deeper than a shallow transactional relationship of courtesan and benefactor. Not to mention, something similar to a Beserk Button goes off here as he can’t stand other people thinking so flippantly of, and meeting at, Gigi. Perhaps Green-Eyed Monster?
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: When Liane dramatically tries to kill herself for attention after Gaston dumps her, it's front-page news.
    • According to Aunt Alicia, this attention ploy is ridiculously common.

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