Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Leslie Caron,
Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold, Eva Gabor
Director: Vincente Minelli
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 115 Minutes
Release Date: September 16, 2008
"Bad table manners, my dear Gigi, have broken up more households than infidelity."
I must confess, I had never
seen Gigi before now. And my immediate response to it was that I was
sorry I had waited so long.
This is a completely enchanting and charming musical picture, lively, fun, and entertaining all the way, and deserves to be remembered as one of the best movies made in the golden era of musicals. It won an incredible nine Oscars, including the first Best Director statue awarded to a director of a musical film. They couldn't have picked a more deserving first in that category than Vincente Minnelli.
The cast is simply perfect. The beautiful and vibrant Leslie Caron brings the title character to life, filled with youthful enthusiasm and raw, tomboy energy. Louis Jourdan brings a cool, dry, but always warm humor to the role of the rich suitor, Gaston. And Maurice Chevalier, as Honore, is the epitome of sly charm. With a twinkle in his eye and a lightness to his step, you can't help but smile as he renders some of the film's most memorable tunes, including "Thank Heaven for Little Girls", "I Remember it Well", and my personal favorite, "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore".
This film is largely the result of the huge Broadway success of songwriters Lerner and Lowe's My Fair Lady. Though it would be a few more years to see that turned into a film of its own, they felt they could translate their talents into movie gold by creating a show directly for the screen. And they were right. The songs are all terrific, without a single throwaway in the bunch. And Lerner's script is funny and well paced.
But most of the credit belongs to the inspired cast, and to Minnelli's magic touch. Gigi is pure, effervescent, escapist delight, and a shining jewel in the magical era of movie musicals.
For the most part, the colors are rich, true, and beautiful, but occasionally, you will notice a flicker in the image, and a few nicks, scars and cuts. But for the most part, the new digital transfer is a marked improvement over the original MGM release. It’s cleaner overall and with better contrast and brighter Technicolor.
The remastered 5.1 audio offers a fuller listening experience, though not many demands are made of the bass or rear signals. The music gets the best boost, though spoken words still sometimes sound a tad thin against it. Overall, though, a very nice improvement.
This double disc set is loaded with goodies, starting with a commentary from star Leslie Caron and historian Jeanine Basinger; a nice treat. That is on Disc One, which also includes a trailer and a pair of classic shorts, “The Vanishing Duck” and “The Million Dollar Nickel”.
Disc Two has a new making-of documentary looking back at the film, and the 1949 nonmusical first filmed version of Gigi from 1949.
Gigi is a wonderful, magical, and completely entertaining film that, thanks to Warner Bros., has finally gotten the treatment it deserves on disc.