Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1958. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner, based on the novel by Colette. Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg. Produced by Arthur Freed. Music by Andre Previn, Conrad Salinger. Production Design by Cecil Beaton. Costume Design by Cecil Beaton. Film Editing by Adrienne Fazan. Academy Awards 1958. Golden Globe Awards 1958.
Vincente Minnelli’s beautifully shot musical comedy was among the great achievements of his later career, and one of the last handful of great musicals to come out of MGM’s golden age. It tells of a young girl (Leslie Caron, in a role originally created on Broadway by Audrey Hepburn) being groomed for the stunning life of a turn-of-the-century courtesan, who then throws a wrench in her family’s plans when she falls seriously in love with selfish Louis Jourdan. This is one of the many Hollywood films of the time to feature people speaking with the kind of French accents that can only in reality belong to an accordion-playing pirate in a striped shirt and beret. The film looks great, and some of the songs are chipper, but the story is too light and doesn’t deserve its full two-hour running time.