Gigi Vincente Minnelli

Gigi Vincente Minnelli
Vincente Minnelli has been lionized the world over for his great musicals but one of his most famous — this 1958 Oscar winner — is more professional pretty than artistic credible. On the far side of the Cinemascope era comes this road show adaptation of Colette’s novel, in which poor, young Gigi (Leslie Caron) is being groomed for life as a courtesan by her grandmother. Her platonic friend Gaston (Louis Jourdan) becomes more and his marriage proposal upsets her apparent destiny. Fine enough, but Lerner and Lowe’s script and songs are, to put it mildly, patronizing. The now creepy "Thank Heaven for Little Girls” is the kind of "aw, shucks” banality that passes for romance in quality pictures and the film’s dainty, "so French” approach to highly-charged material sucks the juice out of it. It’s an eminently watchable movie, with beautiful cinematography, designed within an inch of its life. But there’s something missing from it — guts, maybe, or a sense of doing something other than making tasteful middle-class entertainment in which Maurice Chevalier can parody his origins. In any event, it can’t hold a candle to one of the "special features”: the original 1949 French adaptation by proto-feminist Jacqueline Audry. Though it’s the worst print imaginable it beats the alleged main event in every department, with a darkness and melancholy that make you forget that Hollywood ever existed. Daniele Delorme’s debut is devastating in evoking Gigi’s obliviousness to imminent personal disaster and is the best reason to buy this two-disc set. Other extras include a new documentary on the "making of” the film, which is decently factual, if a tad idolatrous, and a few short-subject favourites from the Warner vaults. (Warner)