Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. France, 1967. Madeleine Films, Parc Film. Screenplay by Jacques Demy. Cinematography by Ghislain Cloquet. Produced by Gilbert de Goldschmidt. Music by Michel Legrand. Production Design by Bernard Evein. Costume Design by Marie-Claude Fouquet, Jacqueline Moreau. Film Editing by Jean Hamon. The Criterion Collection. Academy Awards 1968.
Jacques Demy follows the success of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg with another musical. This time the entire dialogue track is not sung, and the format is more like a traditional American musical. Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac (Deneuve’s real-life sister) play music teachers in the beautiful town of Rochefort who are looking for love and romance during a summer festival. They have no idea, but their ideal men are just around the corner waiting to bump into them! Danielle Darrieux is delightful as the girls’ hardworking mother, who runs a small, glassed-in fast food joint in the middle of the town square, and Gene Kelly appears as another American in France who is looking for the girl of his dreams. The cinematography is lovely, the costumes and sets colourful and bouncy. Michel Legrand wrote the wonderful music, which is performed exuberantly by the entire cast (including a post-West Side Story George Chakiris), and though the film runs too long, the songs are all memorable. Filmed twice in both English and French, the latter version is the one most easy to find today. The sad epilogue to this fun classic is that a few months after completion of filming, Dorleac died tragically young in a fatal car accident.