Gigi is the last MGM musical to win Best Picture. Ending a great tradition dating as far back as The Broadway Melody. Gigi was only adapted as a musical from French author Colette’s novella of the same name. It’s another Parisian romance suited for director Vincente Minnelli, but it couldn’t be more different than An American in Paris. Gigi doesn’t break any new ground, but it did break the record for highest clean sweep at the Academy Awards. Gigi won all 9 of its Oscars including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction, Cinematography – Color, Costume Design, Film Editing, Scoring, and Original Song.
All of them are deserving wins, but it is odd that Gigi wasn’t nominated in a single acting category. The cast is very French with Leslie Caron returning to work with Minnelli. Gigi is an innocent fun-loving school girl groomed by her aunt and grandmama to become a wealthy man’s courtesan. Being a trained mistress is quite scandalous for the late 50’s, but not too much attention is called to it. Gaston is simply a wealthy womanizer with a new woman every week. Louis Jourdan is second only to Maurice Chevalier as his similarly womanizing Uncle Honoré who cheers him on in the background.
His song “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” speaks for itself. Eva Gabor plays one of Gaston’s romantic conquests who goes so far as to attempt suicide when he leaves her. Gaston’s only genuine relationship is with Gigi. It’s a classic close friendship that develops into something more. If any of Gigi sounds similar to My Fair Lady it’s because Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe contributed to both. The Oscar winning song “Gigi” perfectly captures Gaston finally seeing Gigi as a woman. The only question is whether or not he’s willing to give up his playboy lifestyle for her. Gigi is a heartwarming romance with plenty of color and music.