Did she have another film in mind, one that could rescue her reputation? Caron pitched a few ideas before coming to Gigi, one of her favorite French novellas, which was written by Colette in That was it—until marriage, children, everything!
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One of the paradoxes of Leslie Caron's career is that her most famous roles were the earliest ones, made when she had scant experience of acting. Regardless of what she has done since, whether it's writing fiction like her collection Vengeance or playing George Sands on stage as she did in the mid-Ninetiesor taking a part as a downtrodden single mother in the British kitchen-sink dramaThe L-Shaped Room, people invariably expect a grinning, top hatted Maurice Chevalier to pop up at her shoulder and start crooning out lasciviously "Thank Heaven for Little Girls". The roles that do come her way these days are rarely as substantial as one would expect for an actress of her status.
It is based on the novella Gigi by Colette and hit musical film of the same name. The story concerns Gigi, a free-spirited teenaged girl living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. She is being groomed as a courtesan in her family's tradition.
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When the Broadway revival of Gigi opened last April, the reviews seemed united in their contempt for a perceived Disney-fication of the musical. Reading these reviews, one is left with the impression that the stage musical of Gigi was a classic that was ruined by bowdlerization, script changes, and an actress whose primary credit had been a Disney television musical. Gigi did not enjoy a long run inbut neither did the original production.
Gigi seems to be enjoying a relatively wholesome upbringing, with occasional chaste and playful visits from notorious playboy Gaston Corey Cotta longtime friend of Mamita, who treats her simply as a fun kid sister. So from this point onwards, the essential story is back on track. But I digress. The additional songs penned by Lerner and Loewe for the unsuccessful Broadway version are utilized, too, though sometimes in new context.