121 of 122 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2008
For those wondering why they should purchase another edition of "Gigi" on DVD, here are all the extras; however, if you own a Blu-ray, you might want to wait and pre-order Gigi [Blu-ray]. Other than the technical specs, the extras are the same on both versions.
Winner of 9 Oscars, "Gigi" was produced after the demise of the original 3-Strip Technicolor system, and photographed in the industry-standardized Eastmancolor process, which had a tendency to fade to reds and purples. For this new DVD release, Gigi has been photo-chemically restored from its original camera negative and safety separations to produce a much sharper and colorful image than has been seen in decades. It also contains a 5.1 audio mix created from the original multi-track source elements.
Disc 1 (Gigi '58): 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen * English DD5.1 Surround * French Mono * English, French and Japanese subtitles * Bluray specs: 1080P 2.40:1 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 5.1, French 2.0, Spanish 1.0 (Both Castilian and Latin), German 1.0, Italian 1.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles (Main Feature): English, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, Subtitles (on Select Bonus Material): English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese
*New Commentary with Leslie Caron & Film Historian Jeanine Basinger
*The Million Dollar Nickel [1952 MGM short]
*The Vanishing Duck [1958 MGM cartoon]
Disc 2: "Thank Heaven! The Making of Gigi" The story of how 1958's Best Picture winner (the last of the classic MGM musicals) survived a turbulent production that included censorship battles over its daring sexual content and creative struggles between a studio in turmoil and a demanding, visionary director. Featuring an all-new interview with star Leslie Caron, and a rare interview with Oscar-winning director Minnelli
Original 1949 Nonmusical version of Gigi starring Daniele Delorme in the title role and directed by Jacqueline Audry (in French Mono with English subtitles)
For those not familiar with the plot, Gaston (Louis Jordan) is the descendant of a wealthy Parisian family who rebels from the superficial lifestyle of upper class Parisian 1900s society by socializing with the former mistress (Hermoine Gingold) of his uncle (Maurice Chevalier) and her outgoing, tomboy granddaughter, Gigi (Leslie Caron). When Gaston becomes aware that Gigi has matured into a woman, her grandmother and aunt (Isabel Jeans), who have educated Gigi to be a wealthy man's mistress, enjoin on him to become her provider and on her to accept such a golden opportunity. However, true love adds a surprise twist to this Cinderella story that was actually filmed in Paris.
113 of 118 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This review is of the DVD. If you haven't seen this 1958 classic in widescreen format, you really haven't seen it. Director Vincente Minnelli (Liza's father) fills each frame beautifully, often composing scenes reminiscent of the impressionist painters he so loved, such as Renoir or Seurat. Letterbox-haters, this is a good test of the superiority of seeing a movie the way the director intended, not crammed into the 1:1.33 TV screen. (The DVD includes both versions, so comparison comes cheap.)
The year is 1900. Gigi (Leslie Caron) is a pubescent young woman who becomes more and more attractive to millionaire Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jordan). But Gigi's family has a tradition of "Instead of marrying at once, it sometimes happens we get married at last." Making the tradition from pre-teen to beautiful young woman, awkward Gigi is "trained" in the arts of catering to men, such as choosing a cigar, walking elegantly and pouring coffee in the best French manner. The payoff for this kind of training is to occupy a rich young gentleman's bed--until he tires of this courtesan and moves on. While still in favor, the lady in question lives in luxurious style: tutor Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans) advises her charge to "Wait for the first-class jewels, Gigi. Hold on to your ideals."
The team of Lerner and Loewe wrote songs for this musical that include such favorites as "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" and "The Night They Invented Champagne." On its initial release "Gigi" was touted as the cinematic equivalent of their smash Broadway play "My Fair Lady," as the movie trailer on this DVD makes apparent. Gigi won a slew of Oscars, even beating out the presumed favorite for best picture, "I Want to Live," though Susan Hayward's bravura performance in that film netted her the best actress Oscar.
It is no mistake that the compilation film of MGM's best musicals, "That's Entertainment," features Gigi as the last chronological example of the MGM high-quality, lavish musical. Minnelli would go on to direct many more films, including the 1960 musical "Bells Are Ringing" with Judy Holliday and Dean Martin, but "Gigi" was really MGM's "swan song" for expensive musicals, which were getting harder and harder to mount because of television and changing musical tastes (like Elvis).
With a lot of begging and pleading from the director and producer, the studio spent enough money in Hollywood to duplicate Maxim's restaurant and the Ice Gallery, a favorite meeting-place for the 1900 elite. Minnelli's visual wit is visible in the way he frequently uses real Parisian backgrounds of fountains and statuary, indirectly symbolizing and commenting on the mental state of the actor in front.
The whole cast is marvelous, including Hermione Gingold as Gigi's grandmother and the incomparable Maurice Chevalier as Gaston's uncle, Honore Lachaille. It is small wonder that this film is the very favorite--or close to it--among lovers of musicals. "Gigi" is first-class all the way. Even people who don't often purchase musicals may well enjoy the film for its masterly visual style and recreation of turn-of-the (last) century Paris.
What more can I say? Get ahold of this film RIGHT NOW while the price is so good. I don't think you'll regret it.
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Although MGM and other studios would continue in the genre for several more years, GIGI is the last great musical of Hollywood's golden age. It is also one of the few titles consistently mentioned when critics dispute which film should be considered the single finest musical ever created by Hollywood, a film that rivals the likes of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN and MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. Based on a novella by Colette, GIGI tells the story of a French family of the belle epoch--a family, it seems, of women who have made their living from the favors of famous men. Still something of a gawky schoolgirl, Gigi (Leslie Caron) is being trained to become a courtesan, and when she suddenly blossoms she captures the heart of Paris sophistocate Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan.) But much to her family's horror, when the arrangements are completed Gigi suddenly declines!
The cast is absolutely flawless. Caron was born to play Gigi, and is as charming as the awkward youth as she is as the suddenly beautiful young woman; Jourdan's appeal as the worldly and world weary Gaston is tremendous. But the real joy of the cast is in its supporting cast, which includes Maurice Chevalier as Gaston's uncle; Hermione Gingold and Isabel Jeans as Gigi's grandmother and great aunt; and Eva Gabor as Gaston's current mistress. Chevalier and Gingold play their roles with precisely the right mixture of charm and severity, and their duet "I Remember It Well" is among the highlights of the film, while Jeans and Gabor give such memorable comic turns that their small roles become as memorable as the leads.
The Learner & Lowe score is equal their great Broadway success MY FAIR LADY, and offers such enjoyable and memorable songs as "Gigi" and "The Night They Invented Champagne," and the script equals and merges with the music to considerable effect. Filmed largely on location in Paris, the look of the film is incredibly rich, and director Vincent Minnelli maintains a sprightly sense of humor with just enough darkness behind the bubbles to make us aware of the seriousness of the tale. Mixing intimacy with tremendous surface splash, GIGI is a cultural treasure, a film to enjoy and cherish forever and certainly a worthy contender for that disputed title of "Hollywood's finest musical." A personal favorite and highly, highly recommended.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2001
Why Warner Home Video didn't give the classic GIGI a better DVD release is beyond my comprehension. I am writing merely on a technical level, as so many other posts have touched on the film's artistic merits. Gigi is a lovely, vibrant and colorful film. We are not given an anamorphic widesreen transfer (nor a dual layer disc). Because of this, the image suffers from overly bright reds, shimmering and a lot of pixelation. There is quite a bit of artifacting present. At times the colors tend to bleed and seem washed out. The source print used for this DVD shows some wear, which is surprising considers the stature GIGI has maintained for decades. Here the print looks somewhat neglected, with some jumps, scratches (especially at the end) and blotches. The soundtrack is also a disappointment. It suffers from aged fidelity-with periods of noise and distortion. GIGI is in need of restoration. Hopefully this classic muscial will receive just that in the future. A DVD of a restored GIGI would be a most welcome replacement for this.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2010
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
The blu-ray of Gigi is a spectacularly beautiful job. The reds in Gigi's apartment almost overwhelm you. The beautiful pastels of the women's clothing are perfect, the blacks are deep and inky. I found no visible grain in the picture. My only real disappointment was that the Dolby-TrueHD soundtrack was pretty much all centered in the front speakers. There was very little surround to it, but after all, the source was not surround to begin with.
The extras area decent with a couple of commentaries and a half hour documentary about the making of the film, going over the casting, problems with the filming in Paris and the Hayes code restrictions and getting around them. A documentary short and a Tom and Jerry cartoon round out the extras, plus a theatrical trailer for the movie.
Gigi is a classic movie that has a beautiful release on blu-ray with this disc.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2005
Lerner and Loewe, and the scrumptious Nouveau brilliance of Cecil Beaton...what's not to like? I love this movie, and have owned this edition for some time. However, it seems to be missing two segments that I recall from seeing the movie in the theater at revivals: 1) There's an extended soft-focus montage of shots of Gigi in the middle of the musical number, "Gigi," in which Gaston (Louis Jourdan) is supposedly flooded with memories of the girl and realizes he's been in love with her for some time. This appears to have been cut from this DVD edition. 2) Though I can't be 100% certain, I believe Gigi wanders around the gardens a bit more, before launching into "I Don't Understand the Parisians," harumphing at length about her countrymens' insatiable appetite for amour. I don't see this on the DVD either. The DVD itself is pretty stripped-down, with virtually no extra features (except for some footage of an opening-night gala).
Many negative reviews here have commented on the inaccessibilities of a story set more than a century ago in a remote culture, or the inappropriate relationship between Gaston, ostensibly in his mid-30s, and the 15-year-old (in the Colette novella, anyway) Gigi. I suppose everything has to be about us, our times, and our mores?
"Thank heaven," not every story is about our own lives, our own cultures, or our own times. Life would be unbearably dull if all the world's stories were updated to add that focus-group-tested current of feminism, or attitudes about relations between the sexes that were carefully shopped by marketing flunkies to reflect prevailing American tastes. This story is a macro-focus view of a unique sliver of history and culture that, had it not been for Colette's sketch of it, none of us here would have any experience of, whatsoever. It might flatter us to have Caron, in her 1900 couture, suddenly rattle off pert Rory Gilmore-isms about dating and equality, but is that why we read and watch movies? To be flattered? To have ourselves and our beliefs reflected back at us, without exception? I'd hope not!!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
"Gigi" is a musical masterpiece in every sense of the word. It is a pure confection of delight, color, and beauty, handled like a true artist by director Vincente Minnelli with an inspiring group of artists. MGM's last crowning glory is a joy to watch, and is simply perfection. From its marvelous performances from a perfect cast to its sparkling score by Lerner and Loewe, it can only be described as a genuine classic.
The story tells of a young coming-of-age girl, Gigi (a delightfully gamine Leslie Caron), who is trained by her eccentric Grandmamma (Hermione Gingold) and Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans) to be a courtesan to a handsome well-to-do playboy, Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan), who has recently broken up with his latest amour (Eva Gabor). Training the awkward Gigi in everything from table manners ("Bad table manners, my dear Gigi, have broken up more households than infidelity") to drinking wine ("Sip it! A little at a time!") to choosing a cigar for a gentleman. When Gigi undergoes a transformation into an elegant lady, Gaston realizes that he would like to court the enthusiastic young woman... but Gigi has some conditions of her own. Overlooking the whole picture is Gaston's jubilant uncle, Honore Lachaille (the marvelous Maurice Chevalier, in the performance of his career).
Minnelli realizes one of his finest hours as a director, creating the perfect musical through his actors, through vibrant, sumptuous cinematography, which is glowing beauty as only Minnelli could create. The exquisite set designs are inspired, as are the elegantly chic costumes, both designed by "My Fair Lady"'s Cecil Beaton. The lively script makes for many golden scenes, and one of the most beautiful scores ever written for a movie: Chevalier's glowing tribute to all little girls everywhere, "Thank Heaven for Little Girls", the uptempo delight of Caron, Jourdan, and Gingold singing "The Night They Invented Champagne", Chevalier and Gingold's memories of their love affair of long ago in the beautiful "I Remember It Well", and Jourdan's love-sick yearnings in the glorious title song, "Gigi", is a thrill never to be forgotten.
The picture was a gilded treasure in 1958, garnering and winning every single one of its nine Oscar nominations, including Best Editing, Best Art Direction/Set Direction (Color), Best Costume Design (Color), Best Cinematography (Color), Best Scoring, Best Original Song ("Gigi"), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director (Minnelli), and the coveted Best Picture of the Year. And it is still a treasure today: it will bring a smile to your face every time you see it. Thank heaven for "Gigi", the great finale of the classic MGM musicals, and one of THE greatest musicals of all time.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This is a musical delight. Vincent Minnelli always had his eye out for perfection when it came to making his musicals and this one comes close. The beautiful and exotic Leslie Caron shines as Gigi. But it is Maurice Chevalier who steals every scene he's in and gets to sing 'Thank Heaven For Little Girls' which is my favorite out of the whole movie. Louis Jordan is also great as Gigi's admirer. Unusually high quality music and songs, thanks to the musical geniuses Lerner & Loewe. The film has a timelessness and a charm that is sadly missing in today's films, this was the last great MGM Musical. From a scale of 1-10 I give this film a 9!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2002
Who doesn't love Gigi? The musical, the girl, the story. Add to that, Paris, and you've got the makings of the great movie. This is one of the few musical that can give Singin' in the Rain a run for its money as best musical. It is any wonder this won a slew of Oscars, Golden Globes, and a Grammy?
Gigi, the adolescent child in a family of former courtesans, is being prepped by her great-aunt for a life of a kept woman. Great-aunt Alicia has been particularly successful and trains the girl in manners, choosing jewels and clothes, and pampering her future patron. Gigi, a lanky tomboy, is anything but a diligent student. Actually, she's a world-class klutz, something you don't really see former ballerina Leslie Caron as. To her credit, Gigi is a mess.
And that's how her protective grandmother and family friend, Gaston, like her - sweet, childlike, frank. She's bubbly and warm, a little heedless, and loaded with charm (watch her cheat at cards). As she learns more of the world and her intended place in it, the transformation is something to behold. Oddly enough, she triumphs by being true to herself, and somehow to everyone else's expectations too. Quite a coup for the underestimated heroine.
A subplot involves her grandmother, Gaston, and Gaston's uncle, Honore. Amusingly, Honore is like Aunt Alicia in trying to make Gaston into himself. Honore meets with more success, but he doesn't seem to be helping his nephew much. It's so obvious who runs the show (and world) here! Even silly Liane (played by diva Eva Gabor) gives Gaston the run-around.
Leslie Caron is perfect as Gigi, as are her co-stars Louis Jourdan, Maurice Chevalier, and Hermione Gingold. They all sing wonderfully - although Caron's voice is dubbed by a charming Betty Wand. The top-notch Lerner and Loewe (of My Fair Lady fame) songs include:
Thank Heaven for Little Girls (classic)
The Parisians (views of Paris with the adorably exasperated Caron)
The Night They Invented Champagne (a romp of a song)
I Remember It Well (grand duet)
Gaston's Soliloquy (Paris in twilight)
Gigi (more Paris)
I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore (charming Chevalier number)
Say a Prayer for Me Tonight (beautiful and haunting)
It's colorful and brilliantly alive. Paris looks amazing, as do the actors, no little thanks to the lovely period costumes. Caron is heavenly in this role - it seems to have been made for her (I can't imagine the divine Audrey Hepburn, who originated the role, as any better). Jourdan is impossibly handsome and plays befuddled so well, Chevalier's role fits him like a kid glove. Gingold is at turns, dignified, lovingly frazzled, and conflicted over the life Gigi is being raised for. Pure movie magic.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2006
Admired by novelists as diverse as Jean Cocteau and François Mauriac, Colette was arguably the finest French writer of her sex in the 20th century... Her main themes were joys and pains of love and female sexuality in the male-dominated world... All her provocative works (sometimes scandalous) were written with extraordinary insight, sensitivity, and sensuality...
"Gigi" was made into a modest French film in 1948 by Jacqueline Audry, and ten years later, was brought to the screen as an Oscar-winning musical film dancing off with no fewer than nine Academy Awards including Best Picture...
'Gigi' is the delightful story of a young French girl raised and lavished by her grandmother, and her great-aunt, to follow the family tradition by becoming a courtesan... The film opens in the City of Lights, in a period that had its own visual style, the early 1900s, where Honoré Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier), standing in the lovely park of 'The Bois De Boulogne,' announces himself as 'a lover and collector of beautiful things.'
He sings "Thank Heaven for Little girls" with all the captivating smile and enduring charm that kept him an international super star for four decades... Honoré's ravenous appetite for life is contrasted with the world-weariness of his suave aristocrat nephew Gaston (Louis Jourdan), who, in the song 'It's a Bore!,' express his total indifference to absolutely everything...
Soon we are swept into the private world of Gigi, the adorable Parisian schoolgirl trained to follow the family tradition... Gigi is a potential coquette who steals everyone's heart... She knows how to test the quality of a cigar, and learns the refinements and graces of her family's exalted profession along with some of Aunt Alicia's basic recommendations...
Gigi progress from a Parisian gamine of the belle époque, to 'a definite allure.' Gaston, a longtime friend of the family, regards Gigi as a silly child, until he realizes that there has been a breathless change... Gigi shocks and upsets everyone by refusing to become Gaston's latest conquest... To her, the glory of romance and the music of love are not quite enough...
Leslie Caron is an absolute delight as the irrepressible Gigi... With her fleeting facial expressions, she captures brilliantly the transformation of a teasing tomboy into the hesitant, uncertain blooming of adult sexuality...
Louis Jourdan behaves like a perfect Gaston Lachaille... He makes his offer in good faith before any emotional advance... His character is a harmonious mixture of worldly cynicism and romantic idealism... His manners and behavior, and even his singing voice, are perfectly suited to the character...
Gaston is a high-living Parisian lover, a bon vivant, rich and famous... A very elegant bachelor bored with the high society life... The only woman he enjoys is one of his uncle's old girlfriends, Madame Alvarez, whose granddaughter, Gigi, strikes him as particularly irreverent... He brings to Gigi her caramels, licorice and champagne... He lets her cheat at cards... He is captivated by her boyish enthusiasm, even when he is refused, rejected, rebuffed, and repudiated...
Maurice Chevalier is outstanding as Gaston's elderly charming uncle... Honoré hasn't let his advancing age interfere with his exuberant enjoyment of chasing beautiful women... For him love is all... He is the 'Prince of Love,' with all the exuberance, the impudence and the occasional awkwardness of youth...
Isabel Jeans is perfect as Aunt Alicia, the ancient rich courtesan... She trains Gigi in securing a lineup of wealthy lovers... At one point, she instructs Gigi on the relative values of the exquisite stones in her jewel box, ticking off the particular merits of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds... Gigi listens to her aunt's artistic feat, inspiring the same delighted admiration for the large square-cut emerald her aunt got from a King, and which she slips onto Gigi's finger with the observation that 'only the most beautiful emeralds contain that miracle of elusive blue.'
The songs are perfect reflections of the characters who sing them...
At Maxim's, Gaston sings knowingly of his waning romance with the 'pretty but common' Liane (Eva Gabor) in 'She Is Not Thinking of Me.' In an outdoor café, Honoré sings of the relaxed and comfortable feelings that come with old age in 'I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore.' In Trouville, Honoré and the deliciously bizarre Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold) recall their past romance with 'I Remember It Well.' And, most of all, Louis Jourdan sings 'Gigi' sweeping the movie audience in its words and music..
Minnelli's exquisite 'Gigi' brought together all the best elements of musical movies into a delightful pastiche of sumptuous music, elegant dancing, and enchantingly memorable characters... He simply hit the jackpot with his choices in actors, guiding flawlessly their interpretations...
This exquisite musical had a total of nine nominations and nine Oscars and awards in almost every category... It was highly unusual that none of the excellent cast received acting nominations... However, Maurice Chevalier was presented with a "Special Oscar."