Saturday, March 18, 2006
Often called the last great movie musical, Gigi (1958), which won nine Oscars, including Best Picture, was certainly the most unlikely. Based on a novella by the French novelist, Colette, it's the story of a young girl in Belle Epoque Paris who is raised and educated to go into the family business of being a courtesan.
...Written in 1944, Colette's novel had been made into a French film in 1951, and into a Broadway play in 1953, starring Audrey Hepburn.... It took several years to settle the problems with the censors, then Freed began assembling his team: Vincente Minnelli, director of some of Freed's most successful musicals (Meet Me In St. Louis (1944), An American in Paris, 1951); writer-lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and his composer partner, Frederick Loewe, who currently had the biggest hit on Broadway, My Fair Lady; music supervisor Andre Previn; and production and costume designer Cecil Beaton.
Audrey Hepburn was the first choice to play Gigi since she had played the role on stage in 1952, but she was making Funny Face (1957) at the time and declined.
Leslie Caron's singing voice was overdubbed; however, original demo recordings of "Night they Invented Champagne" and "The Way You Look Tonight" sung by Leslie exist and have been released on CD.
The day after the movie won its nine Oscars, M-G-M telephone operators were instructed to answer all phone calls with, "Hello, M-Gigi-M."
The cat in the movie reacted violently whenever it was in a scene with Leslie Caron, but director Vincente Minnelli insisted on having that particular cat, so it had to be heavily drugged. This is especially obvious during "Say a Prayer for Me Tonight".
With only four letters, this movie has the shortest title of any film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) is the longest.