Gigi (1958) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

Some of the greatest movie musicals in cinematic history share similar characteristics, including: gorgeous production design, lush cinematography, and of course, captivating music. The movie musical has changed over the years ever since the release of The Jazz Singer (1927), but musicals continue to endure because they are just as magical as cinema itself. Indeed, not everyone likes musicals, but there is a uniquely aesthetic quality associated with people singing and dancing as these films explore fundamental themes within the human experience. Maybe that is why Gigi (1958) was able to win nine Academy Awards during its original release, including “Best Picture” that year.

A Toast

As previously mentioned, Gigi is a beautiful musical (much like other musicals in the history of cinema) that captures the grandeur of turn-of-the-20th century Paris. Leslie Caron does a fantastic job as the title character even though Audrey Hepburn was one of the main contenders to play that particular role. In fact, Audrey Hepburn actually played the character “Gigi” on the stage in 1952, but was busy with other films in 1958, which allowed Leslie Caron to star in this lavish film adaptation.

Nevertheless, the film is absolutely stunning, and is arguably one of the most beautiful films ever made. Gigi also holds a unique place in Oscar history as being one of the few films to have what is called a “clean sweep” at the Academy Awards (meaning that it won in every category it was nominated in, including the coveted “Best Picture” Oscar). Only a few other films have achieved this rare feat, and other examples include The Last Emperor (1987) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). Gigi also holds the record for having the shortest title for a “Best Picture” winner. Not only that, but the title song also won the “Best Original Song” Academy Award that year, and that sequence is definitely one of the best parts in this sumptuous film. Gigi is definitely a great film for people who love Hollywood musicals!

Verdict

Vincente Minnelli directed some of the greatest movie musicals of all time, including Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), the “Best Picture” winner An American in Paris (1951), and of course, Gigi (1958). He won the “Best Director” Oscar only one time in his illustrious career for this film, which could mean that Gigi is his magnum opus. Gigi was also one of the most financially successful films to ever come out of MGM. In fact, after Gigi won the “Best Picture” Academy Award, telephone operators at MGM were told to answer all phone calls with “Hello, M-Gigi-M.” All of this acclaim for Gigi definitely means that the character “Gigi” is a very special girl, and that her film will always have a special place not just in the musical genre, but within the entire history of cinema itself. Congratulations to Vincente Minnelli for giving the world his masterpiece!

Gigi (1958) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for everything in the film that looks spectacular

Take a Drink: for every musical number

Have Some Champagne: during the song, “The Night They Invented Champagne”

Drink a Shot: every time the name “Gigi” is spoken or sung

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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