Musical Monday: Gigi

Monday, July 02, 2007 by

Yes girls, it's Gigi! The story of a young French girl who finds love despite her grandmother's sick attempts to train her for a life of prostitution!

The year? 1900! The place? Paris! The Bois de Boulogne! The players? Perverted old Frenchmen and snotty high-priced whores in vagina hats! And oh honeys, this film is the holy grail of vagina hattery.

We start with Maurice Chevalier as Honore, a disgusting old Frenchman who sings about how he's hot for little girls.

Finding 5-year-olds a little too small for his tastes, he moves on to the pubescent girls in the crowd and we are introduced to the beautiful Leslie Caron as Gigi. She wisely runs far away from Maurice.

And into the arms of her Grandmother, the divine Hermione Gingold. Hermione berates her for being late for her "lessons" with her Aunt Alicia. She runs a comb through her hair and shoves her out the door.

Meanwhile, Maurice picks up his nephew, Louis Jourdan, for a carriage ride. Louis sighs and sings about how bored he is with the life of an outrageously wealthy playboy while Maurice fondles himself looking at all the young girls on the streets.

Fearing that his uncle may start masturbating openly in the street, Louis leaves him and heads over to Hermione's place. She is an old friend, although we're never really told how and why this is so. She gently teases him about his predilection for hanging out with poor people like herself, although we suspect this was her subtle way of hitting him up for money.

Meanwhile, Gigi is with her fabulous Aunt Alicia, an aging, imperious former courtesan to wealthy men and minor royalty. Aunt Alicia is teaching Gigi the important things in life, like how to pour coffee, choose a cigar, and turn down presents of cheap jewelry in order to hold out for the big rocks. Because this is a film from 1958, the oral sex lessons take place off-camera.

After her lessons, Gigi runs into Louis. They tease and banter, but he clearly thinks of her as a child and she thinks of him as a rich uncle.

Honestly, all the relationships in this movie are weird. We think the only reason a movie like this was made in 1958 was because, unlike the vast majority of classic musicals, it was not about American life and culture at all. It could all be attributed to the French and their strange Gallic ways.

Later, we are introduced to Louis' latest whore, Eva Gabor. We laugh and clap as she struggles her way through her lines. The woman couldn't emote if her life depended on it. We suspect poor Vincente Minnelli spent most of the time directing her scenes reminding her not to look directly into the camera. She's that bad.

Later, she fastens a tutu to her head and sluts it up in public. Louis suspects he's not the only name on her dance card.

Louis is correct. Although kudos to her for her fine taste because he's the only hot man in the movie.

He dumps her, she attempts to kill herself, and everyone laughs and makes jokes about it. Seriously.

Champagne and vagina hats for everyone! Louis throws himself back into high society in an attempt to get over his ennui. Frankly, he's just a moody, self-absorbed frog.

He much prefers the simple life. Shucking beans with poor underage girls...

Getting them drunk...

And whisking them off to resorts to frolic in scandalous attire.

Aunt Alicia is simply BESIDE HERSELF over this turn of events. She ties up her head, calls over her sister, and yells at her for letting her granddaughter frolic with a rich man WITHOUT getting paid for it. Mon dieu! Le scandale! Aunt Alicia's in charge now, bitches and if her grandniece is running off to the beach with the richest man in France, then it's time to step up her whore lessons, toute fucking suite!

First stop: The couturiers of Paris:

Le pheasant...

La party favor

or le tablecloth? Which shall it be for our little baby whore?

None of them, apparently. What does Aunt Alicia choose for her young charge?

A wedding gown. Way to send the mixed signals there, Alicia. Why not dress her in a nun's habit? Louis is NOT amused.

He calls in poor Hermione who sadly spends most of this film moving lamps from room to room and getting berated by other characters. He wants his little moppet back in her schoolgirl clothes immediately. Hermione stands firm and tells Louis that Gigi is a woman now and if he wants to spend time with her, he's going to have to pay for it like everyone else.

The next day, Hermione runs to her sister to give her the news: Louis has agreed to "sponsor" Gigi by setting up an apartment for her and lavishing her with gifts.

We never actually thought about it before, but now we DESPERATELY want a lace-covered bathtub.

That night, Louis stops by to give her the happy news. How do you say "You're my bitch now" in French?

Gigi, unsurprisingly, is not at all happy with the arrangement and turns him down flatly.

Louis beats Hermione with his walking stick for trying to set him up with such a little cocktease and storms out.

Aunt Alicia does not take the news well.

Louis goes back to the apartment to beat up the old lady some more when Gigi decides that she's changed her mind.

And suddenly, she ages 5 years. Although to be fair, that gown is fucking GORGEOUS. Anyway, Louis takes her out to Maxim's for their first big night on the town.

And ends it abruptly and without any explanation whatsoever by throwing the weeping Gigi into her grandmother's arms. This guy's an asshole.

He spends a little time moodily wandering the streets of Paris, backlit. We keep hoping that bands of thieves will come upon him and beat him to death, but no such luck.

Instead he wanders back to the apartment and out of left field, asks Hermione for Gigi's hand in marriage. Y'know, if it were us, we would've said "Fuck off, you moody frog!" but then again, he's really rich.

Anyway, the movie ends with Gigi wearing the vagina hat to end all vagina hats, which apparently means that her vagina is no longer open for business. The end.


thombeau said...


This is one of your VERY BEST efforts! Really, you've outdone yourselves. The holy grail of vagina hattery! YAY!!!!!

Yozheek said...

I remember watching this movie on TV when I was a child. I liked it but I didn't really understand what was going on (although I did think Maurice was kind of creepy). Then when I saw it again as an adult, I realized that this was a romance about prostitution! Gigi's line when she decides to consort with Gaston, "I would rather be miserable with you than without you"-such is the choice made by many women.

"Because this is a film from 1958, the oral sex lessons take place off-camera." It looks like Auntie is giving Gigi some tips in the photo from the dress shop.

Loved, loved, LOVED your post about "Gigi", truly the queen of dysfunctional musicals! Thanks , Tom and Lorenzo, for starting our Independence week off with a bang!

Vera said...

OH, I love Gigi! I saw it the first time when I was too young to really understand what the hell was really going on, and there are still some interpersonal jumps that are made that don't make a whole ton of sense even as I've gotten older, but still. Magnifique.

You guys didn't cover two of the cleverest little songs in the show, "I Remember it Well," which explains Hermione Gingold as an "old friend," and "I'm So Glad I'm Not Young Anymore." Where you too creeped out by Maurice? I understand.

Anonymous said...

Too funy! You guys outdid yourselves again. Love the take on Maurice (who really was a little . . . odd.) Rumor is, he used to actually have sex on stage when he was in the theatre even when the scene was about faking it! No little girls, though-he liked them old enough to have learned a few things.

Anonymous said...

We were just talking about this movie yesterday, as an example of the theme of pedophilia in musicals. The subject came up during the dance scene in Grease where Marty is creepily hit on by the host of American Bandstand.

Chase820 said...

Champagne and vagina hats for everyone!

That's going to be the title of my next blog. Srsly.

I'm not sure which is more disgusting: Fictional Maurice Chevalier sexin' up on the little girls, or real life Maurice Chevalier kissin' up on the Nazis.

Pedophiles or psychopaths, psychopaths or pedophiles . . . it's a toss-up.

Kat said...

I've been refreshing the page all morning because I needed my Musical Mondays fix like a crack addict, AND NOW IT HAS BLOCKED IT.

I think I just might cry.

Kat said...

IT = the IT department of my office. All caps kind of obscured that.

Badger said...

You know in the scenes where Eva Gabor was skating with Jean-Paul Belmondo? They were actually being pulled on a platform, because Belmondo didn't know how to ice skate.

macasism said...

It's a good thing I'm reading this at home on my lunch hour because I need a new pair of panties.

Leave it to the French to outdo the rest of the planet in vagina hats!

bitchybitchybitchy said...

How do you say "You're my bitch now" in French? Mon Dieu, zat is genius!!!!

to paraphrase Maurice, Thank Heaven for Tom and Lorenzo's Musical Mondays!

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for asking, but are there any actual musical numbers in the movie? I mean, if the plot is that whackied, there must be some reason to watch it (C'mon - Hermoine and Maurice singing "I remember it well" is kind of fun...)

shiver72876 said...

I had to come home for lunch to read this blog, because my work computer kept freezing up. It doesn't like your page for some reason! My Monday has been incomplete until now!

I've never seen Gigi, but I do own the DVD (got it in a Musical Boxed Set gift) so will watch it sometime to understand your post fully! Sounds fun!

angela said...

I love it! Thank you for taking on this ridiculously cracked-out movie. You should do Daddy Long Legs the next time you want a pedophilia-tinged movie with Leslie Caron in it. That's the one where Fred Astaire (55) plays the "benefactor" of Leslie Caron (23). Like this one, the premise seems too dysfunctional to be true until you actually watch it.

KingRoper said...

Gigi is truly one of the strangest musicals ever... you guys really nailed it. It began as a film, then was made into a stage musical in 1973 which - quite understandably - flopped, despite featuring Agnes Moorehead as Aunt Alicia (only a few months before her death... this probably killed her).

Champagne and Vagina hats for everyone! (This is soon to be my new rallying cry)

Trish said...

Thank you- I saw part of Gigi on TV this week-end and knew that it needed your touch. It has always worried me that this musical was done by so many high schools and colleges and no one caught the sub-text.

KingRoper said...

How did I forget THIS? The original story was written by the French writer Colette, adapted into a non-musical play in 1951 by Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and starred Audrey Hepburn as Gigi!

jabes said...

I remember having to sing "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" with a group of two or three others when we were in 4th grade. Creeps me out now, thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

Actually that is not Jean-Paul Belmondo as Eva's lover. It's Jacques Bergerac. Afetr he retired from acting, he went on to run Revlon.

Yes it is amusing how much this film gets away with its subject matter. What's even amazing in that scene where Gigi rejects Louis Jordan's offer, her charcter explicitly states what's expected of her, yet the sensors still let it go? Amazing.


Anonymous said...

Love you gayboys and your Muscial Monday!!
Vagina Hats!!! Hilarious! Is there a official definition for this?

mumblesalot (Laura A) said...

I loved your commentary. This one doesn't creep me much at all. I guess I didn't catch the premise when I was young but when I did ooh la la. Well dressed prostitution sounded exciting to me. When you live in a puritanical home you find excitement in strange places.

I love Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gigold and Leslie Caron.

As for Maurice Chevalier, well what can you say, he plays the part of a misogynist well.

kath said...

I so wish you guys were around when we had to do this play in High School.

Anonymous said...

You nailed the story in your own original manner - which keeps me coming back each week. You guys are great.

But you do sometimes seem to forget the reason musicals exist - THE MUSIC.

The cast and the music make this film enjoyable to me.

Noelia said...

I haven't seen this one, but with your comments, and all those vagina hats, now I know which dvd I'm buying next!

Anonymous said...

Where's Bill & his Fabulous Trivia?

Clio Bluestocking said...

You guys make Mondays not so bad after all! Really, I can never see a hat without seeing a vagina any more.

Oral sex lessons off screen? Did you not see the lesson about the cigars? Somehow, I don't think all of that touching and rolling and sucking to light it was a cigar just being a cigar!

Hermione Gingold reminds me that you guys should look into "A Little Night Music," in which there are a number of rather, shall we say, "unorthodox" relationships.

Badger said...

Oops, my mistake! Sorry about that.

potty mouth princess said...

Ah, Gigi and the Boys have unearthed the problems with we prudish Americans:

We need more whore lessons, like, TOUTE FUCKING SUITE!!!!!11

Sewing Siren said...

Maybe the Gayboys could sponsorr a vagina hat contest? yes?

potty mouth princess said...

A free vagina hat for all who complete a semester of whoring, taught by a noted professor...errr....courtesan of the day.

Line forms to the left.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the clothes! Oh, the hats! I gotta go rent this musical!


TLo said...

"Anonymous said...
"Vagina Hats!!! Hilarious! Is there a official definition for this?"

Well, we don't know if we'd call it "official," but when we started really looking at these old musicals, we noticed two things:

1)The gender roles and sexual relationships were seriously screwy

2)Quite often, the women wore outrageous hats.

Therefore, we surmised that the hats were an expression of sexual repression, hence, "vagina hats."

Also, the reason we didn't focus much on the music in this film is because we felt most of it wasn't memorable and none of it was on YouTube. Plus, there was a TON of plot to get through.

Muse of Ire said...

I have always wanted to read the story this is based on, just to see if it can possibly be as creepy and disturbing as this movie. Maybe it's different in French.

Can you believe that Leslie Caron loved this material and put her considerable star power behind making it?

valpal said...

If the Project Runway folks read this (and we all know you do!), then perhaps they should consider adding a challenge that would include vagina hats.


Gorgeous Things said...

Oh god, that was great! I missed it yesterday, but Musical Mondays can make for Terrific Tuesdays!

Love the white dress. The turn of the century as interpreted by Charles James. Oo la la!

Anonymous said...

As usual, love the recap! As with others, where's Bill? I'm always fascinating by his additions to Musical Mondays.


snf in va said...

Excellent TLo treatment, once again!

I thought Maurice Chevalier was creepy the first time I saw this in the 70' he really makes my skin crawl.

I saw this when I was still living in Europe: what's funny is that some things don't change that much. Wives lead respectable, low-key (read: boring) lives, while mistresses go to the parties, wear vagina hats, and generally have all the fun. Europeans definitely make a distinction between mistresses and prostitutes (witness Camilla Parker-Bowles, folks). It's a time honored tradition.

I thought the movie was very enjoyable as a farce:
Gigi's objective to have both the respectability of marriage and the fun, jewelry and nightlife of a mistress....with *GASP* her own husband!!! Unheard of!!!

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget Gigi won 9 Oscars, including Best Picture. Consider adding "Lili" to your queue, boys. It also stars Lelsie Caron and a Gabor sister. Crazy dumb orphan girl falls in love with puppets!

snf in va said...

Another bit of irony; Maurice Chevalier was something of a gigolo himself in his youth, having had at least one notorious affair with an older woman (la Mistinguett), which greatly enhanced his reputation, and advanced his career as well.

Aahh, ze French...

Anonymous said...

How many times can you say vagina hat in one blog? And how long can you say it before I actually STOP laughing at it? Never? Oh, okay.

Seriously, I'm waiting for you two to publish your thesis on the role of vagina hats in old movies, specifically musicals...with a sub-section on walking sticks ;)

Loved this one boys!!!


BrianB said...

I loved this movie because it was big and colorful and extravagant, just like the cars America made that year. I really didn't think much about the plot till recently and now I realize how wacked it was! I just thought Caron was so cute and Jourdin was so something else when he's wet!

Speaking of Chevalier and vagina hats, you guys need to check out "A New Kind of Love" with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward! And the never dull Thelma Ritter! It's not a musical per say, though Chevalier does a number to a room full of single women wearing crazy hats. Then they all march down the street to some saint's statue and pray to meet a man. At least I think that's what they're doing.

I don't know, mousy, mannish Joanne Woodward climbs up a ladder at the side of a building to leave flowers at this saint's statue (why the hell is this statue up on a ledge on the side of a building?!) and she has some kind of spaz attack and the next thing you know she's at Dior and Balenciaga and ends up wearing all this crazy couture.

Anyways, I just need you guys to watch this movie and explain to me What the Hell is Going On!!



BrianB said...

OMG I just remembered! "A New Kind of Love"? Eva Gabor is in that one too! Boy, she came a long way to Hooterville!


The Java Junkie said...

Holy grail of vagina hattery! Bwahahaha!!!! said...

Thanks for explaining this movie. Guess I was overwhelmed by the music and costumes. Hilarious!

LittleKarnak said...

"Aunt Alicia is simply BESIDE HERSELF over this turn of events. She ties up her head, calls over her sister, and yells at her for letting her granddaughter frolic with a rich man WITHOUT getting paid for it. Mon dieu! Le scandale! Aunt Alicia's in charge now, bitches and if her grandniece is running off to the beach with the richest man in France, then it's time to step up her whore lessons, toute fucking suite!"


Auntie Ruth said...

Darlings, you MUST do "An American in Paris."

You get to admire Gene Kelly's ass AND Leslie Caron's vagina!! And the music is superb.

Lachriel said...

I remember seeing this actually, or part of it anyway. (I was ten years old and mostly watched cartoons and murder mysteries.) If I recall, the reason he became so upset and took her home was because his pervy uncle showed up and made some comment about Gigi looking all grown up and maybe she would keep him interested for a while.

I don't know. I guess I aways saw the whole end of it there as his subconsciously defending her honor by removing her from a degrading situation, and then realizing he loved her.

However, as I said, I was about ten. (Back then I didn't see the goal of the 'etiquette' lessons, which I so totally can now.)

It's got great music, though, and I enjoyed to costumes as well.

lsaspacey said...

Even at ten years old, you got it perfectly.

Kat said...

Heh, I'm so late to this.

Leslie Caron insisted on singing her own songs (read - Big Girl Tantrum), even though the production team really thought her voice was lacking. So they filmed the whole damn thing, and then brought in Betty Wand to dub Caron in post-production. So, in a switch from normal procedure, the singer had to coordinate with the film of the actor, instead of the actor singing along to the recording while being filmed.

Lerner and Lowe wrote the score around the same time they penned "My Fair Lady" and the two shows have a lot of similarities. The two monologues for Gaston and Henry Higgins, the ugly-duckling idea, the big vagina hats...

Anonymous said...

My favorite Hermione Gingold role (and how I'll always think of her)--Madame Rubenchat, the voluptuous Parisian cat who mentored Judy Garland's character in "Gay Purr-ee".

Terri said...

I have always loved Gigi for some bizarre reason- far more than My Fair lady. I think it's because I saw it when I was too young to understand the whole prostitution bit. Also- hotter male lead than old, gross, nobody-wants-to-think-about-him-and-Audrey-getting-it-on Rex Reed.

If you value your eyes and maintaining a consistent sleep cycle, don't do an American in Paris. I have yet to make it through that damn 15-minute dance sequence awake.

If you're going to do Gene Kelly, it's got to be Singing in the Rain, no? Yes, it also has a ridiculously long dance sequence, but Cyd Charisse! Women jumping out of baked goods! Gene Kelly hotness! And the dance sequence to end all dance sequences!

Anonymous said...

You know, they lost some reels from the original movie which helps explain why in the end,she's wearing a pink gown instead of a white one.

Somewhere after frolicing in the water with Mr. Not Exactly Charming, she was caught banging the Russian pool boy in the pool house. Blame it on the vagina hat!

Bill said...

"toute fucking suite" - LOL! I wish I had children or was a manager so I could boss someone around using that phrase!

Sorry for going missing, valpal! I was visiting Mom & Dad and getting Mom set up online with a Noetbook PC for her 76th birthday.

Gigi never grabbed me as kid. As a little gayboy, I was likely terrified by all the over-the-top vagina hats.

Chevalier - you've all said it already - creepy!

Further to what Kat said re: Caron's singing. Betty Wand (who dubbed Gigi's singing) also gave vocal support to Rita (the lesser Anita) Moreno in West Side Story.

For me, this movie starts and ends with the irrepresible Hermione Gingold. The "I Remember It Well" number is the only part of this movie I love. Her role as Mme. Armfeldt in "A Little Night Music" on Broadway (Tony nom) and in the movie version sort of echoes Gigi. She plays a former cortesan bemoaning the lack of discretion and finesse the younger generation has in coducting their illict affairs and romances. Her performance of "Liasions" in NIght Music is wonderful.

Gingold was writing an autobiogrpahy when she died at 89. It was published after her death and is called, "How to Grow Old Disgracefully." How can you not love that?

Caron - American in Paris, Lili, Gigi, Daddy Long Legs. An affair with Warren Beatty - you go Leslie! Later career appearance on Falcon Crest as Nicole Sauget, an old friend of Chase who goes up against Jane Wyman and Susan Sullivan.

Gigi really is a French "My Fair Lady." Besides the Lerner & Lowe music, Cecil Beaton did the fabulous costumes for both movies. And the song "Say a Prayer for Me Tonight" was originally written for My Fair Lady. And Audrey Hepburn was first choice for the part of Gigi but turned it down.

In addition to the amazing (undeserved IMHO) 9 Oscars the movie received, the Broadway musical version won a Tony for Best Score.

Once again, Tom & Lorenzo's version is far superior to the actual musical!

Vic said...

Yeah, that gown is fucking gorgeous and this is your best Musical Monday Review yet. I love Gigi. I love Maurice as a dirty old man. I love Hermione. And Zja Zja is not so irritating in this movie as she became in real life. And Leslie Caron is perfect for the role, growing from ingenue into a woman in front of our eyes. and Louis Jordan, well, I guess I grew to accept him.

I was too young to understand prostitution or oral sex when I first saw this movie, so I had an ah hah moment rather late in life.

When you called those chapeaux vagina hats! Well, dahlings, mine must have dropped 6 inches from laughing so hard.

Red Seven said...

I saw this movie as a kid, several times (hi, I'm a big fairy), and only later as an adult did I realize what it was really about. You're right; was amazing that it was made at all in '58.

Some good tunes, tho'.

("A topaaahz among my jewwwells, are you maaaaaad?")

Susan said...

I never really thought of them as vagina hats. How truly sensitive of you to note this. I really think your rendition of Gigi is quite perfect. Thank you. A week without your 50's musicals review is like a week without your 50's musicals review--no fun at all.

Kent said...

I don't know about vagina hats...that last one is like an entire hydrangea on her head. Good call on the tutu on Eva's head. Definitely one of my favorite movies and yes, the weirdest interpersonal relationships ever.

pokeystar said...


Am I the only one who adores "The Night They Invented Champagne"?

That, along with "I Got the Horse Right Here" and "Moses" are my go to cheer me up songs.

Heidenkind said...

I never noticed the proliferation of vagina hats in this movie before.