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"Gigi" & "My Fair Lady"... Actually the same film in a different setting?


speedracer5
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This thread was inspired by a conversation Lorna and I had on the "I Just Watched" thread...

 

I saw Gigi for the first time a few days ago.  While I enjoyed the film, I couldn't help but notice how similar this film was to My Fair Lady.  Aside from the Parisian versus London setting, there are many traits these two films have in common.

 

1. Both films take place during the same time period-- early 1900s. 

 

2. Both title characters are being groomed to accompany a man.  Gigi is being trained by her aunt to be a courtesan for rich men and Eliza Doolittle is being trained to be a "lady" and accompany Professor Higgins to the big ball.  One difference I can think of is that Professor Higgins is teaching Eliza as a result of a bet he made; whereas, Gigi is being groomed out of a sense of family tradition.

 

3. Both lead male characters (Gaston in Gigi and Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady) have a realization (through song, naturally) that they're in love with the lead female character.

 

4.  Leslie Caron even looks and speaks like Audrey Hepburn in Gigi

 

5. Even the songs in Gigi sound very similar to the songs in My Fair Lady.  I read that the same song writing team wrote the songs for both musicals.  I can understand the song writers having a distinct sound and style, but they didn't stretch far to write the songs for Gigi

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The difference between the two for me, is the language piece in MY FAIR LADY. The point of judging class distinction and regional identification via language is the heart of the story. These points still hold true today*.

 

*although of late I am starting to hear really poor grammar and odd pronunciations among media announcers, who should speak with perfect diction, imho.

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The difference between the two for me, is the language piece in MY FAIR LADY. The point of judging class distinction and regional identification via language is the heart of the story. These points still hold true today*.

 

*although of late I am starting to hear really poor grammar and odd pronunciations among media announcers, who should speak with perfect diction, imho.

I notice all the time on the CNN and other such places, that the news on the bottom running feed, has all kinds of words spelled wrong. You't think they could hire someone literate or at least use some computerized word correction unit, Tiki.

 

Talking of similar story lines, I was watching "The Unfaithful" yesterday with Ann Sheridan and realized after about twenty minutes that it was a revamped version of Somerset Maugham story, "The Letter". They did try to make the Oomph Girl a lot less guilty though of indiscretions than those of Bette Davis in the earlier film.

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"Courtesan"?

 

I don't know about that, or if courtesan would be the correct term, as it's usually connotated with the word concubine, and it would seem odd, even in France and in those days for any family to go through the trouble of "training" any of their daughters to be an adulterous companion for a wealthy man.  However, to my understanding, the word has taken on more harmless meaning over time... but as far as it's earlier and more common definition;

 

And that could be why producers of GIGI had problems with the HAYES office in earlier attempts to bring the story to the screen. 

 

But in humorous vien, I'd say that since MY FAIR LADY is a musical adaptation of the George Bernard Shaw play PYGMALION  and GIGI (which was first a French film in the late '40's and NOT a musical I think) which was based on a novella by COLLETTE, written 30 years later, one might argue that the latter may have been somewhat inspired by the former.

 

Now, I also understand that many  critics at the time,  also cited similarities between the two.  Personally, while I also in some minor respect see some cursory resemblance, I still don't see them as strictly similar.

 

 

Sepiatone

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speedracer5--You missed one similarity.  Both My Fair Lady & Gigi have at least one main character speaking his songs instead of singing them:  Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins (in stage musical & film of MFL, and Maurice Chevalier as Lachaille Sr. & Louis Jourdan as Gaston in Gigi.

 

Plotwise, you've hit the nail on the head.  Both Eliza and Gigi are being taught "manners"; that's the centerpiece of the plot in both films, although TikiSoo is correct, IMHO, in the major distinction of language.

 

That's all I can be certain of  without seeing Gigi (1958) again

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This thread was inspired by a conversation Lorna and I had on the "I Just Watched" thread...

 

I saw Gigi for the first time a few days ago.  While I enjoyed the film, I couldn't help but notice how similar this film was to My Fair Lady.  Aside from the Parisian versus London setting, there are many traits these two films have in common.

 

1. Both films take place during the same time period-- early 1900s. 

 

2. Both title characters are being groomed to accompany a man.  Gigi is being trained by her aunt to be a courtesan for rich men and Eliza Doolittle is being trained to be a "lady" and accompany Professor Higgins to the big ball.  One difference I can think of is that Professor Higgins is teaching Eliza as a result of a bet he made; whereas, Gigi is being groomed out of a sense of family tradition.

 

3. Both lead male characters (Gaston in Gigi and Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady) have a realization (through song, naturally) that they're in love with the lead female character.

 

4.  Leslie Caron even looks and speaks like Audrey Hepburn in Gigi

 

5. Even the songs in Gigi sound very similar to the songs in My Fair Lady.  I read that the same song writing team wrote the songs for both musicals.  I can understand the song writers having a distinct sound and style, but they didn't stretch far to write the songs for Gigi

 

One major difference between the films and lead female character is a sexual one;   Gigi was being trained to be a lover, a mistress.  While this is very clear in the French story the Code wouldn't allow this type of storyline (and Americans being the prudes they are wouldn't have accepted it).    

 

In My Fair Lady anytime sex comes up it is quickly pushed aside.   e.g.  when Elsa's farther brings up the subject (related to trying to get money from Higgins),   Higgins reacts with distaste since sex was even a factor in why he wanted to retain her.     

 

If Gigi wasn't hampered by the Code,  a similar type discussion would have been about the price!   

 

As for #4:   Shouldn't it be that Hepburn sounds like Caron since Gigi was released years before MFL?      (I assume Julie Andrews didn't sound like Caron when on Broadway doing MFL).

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4.  Leslie Caron even looks and speaks like Audrey Hepburn in Gigi.

 

I think that's the one thing MY FAIR LADY borrows from GIGI as opposed to vice-versa...although since Audrey played the role of GIGI in the non-musical stage version, maybe it was intentional.

 

Another important similarity I would cite between the two films is that the heroines of both  play their final scenes silently and without a word of dialogue, in MY FAIR LADY it's fine, Eliza has had her say, but in GIGI it bugs me because it reduces the title character to a set piece. She's bawling her eyes out on the stairs, she has no agency or choice in her future which is dictated for her, and in the next shot she and Gaston are wheeling the perambulator through the park and it's like, "well did Gigi have any kind of say in this?!"

 

Despite all its flaws, I really do like MY FAIR LADY ; its backbone of PYGMALION gives it an intelligence that earns respect; but to be honest with you (thanks in large part to TCM trotting it out a thousand times in the last so many years) I've gotten to a point where I can't stand GIGI, it's just got too much going against it and is a hopelessly superficial film.

 

and Chevalier makes me want to retch.

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speedracer5--You missed one similarity.  Both My Fair Lady & Gigi have at least one main character speaking his songs instead of singing them:  Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins (in stage musical & film of MFL, and Maurice Chevalier as Lachaille Sr. & Louis Jourdan as Gaston in Gigi.

 

Plotwise, you've hit the nail on the head.  Both Eliza and Gigi are being taught "manners"; that's the centerpiece of the plot in both films, although TikiSoo is correct, IMHO, in the major distinction of language.

 

That's all I can be certain of  without seeing Gigi (1958) again

One reason is because neither Harrison or Jourdan COULD sing.

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