Posts Tagged ‘leslie caron’

This is a rather lovely musical, featuring Fred Astaire as Jervis Pendleton, a wealthy man who travels to France and sees 18 year old orphan Julie (Leslie Caron). He determines to help her, and secretly pays for her to move to America, where he funds her schooling and pays her living expenses. Julie has no idea who her mysterious benefactor – who she calls ‘Daddy Long Legs’ – is, and is as eager to find out, as Jervis is to keep his secret. But when the two of them meet up after a few years, there is an attraction between them…

I enjoyed this film a lot – Fred Astaire is as pleasing as ever, and does some lovely dancing. Leslie Caron is a perfect partner for him in this respect, as she was an amazing ballet dancer, and their grace and talent combined makes for some beautiful sequences.

There’s plenty of comedy to be had as well – Astaire had a comic flair which was great for light-hearted film such as this, and Leslie Caron mixes just about the right amount of feistiness with a touch of vulnerability, making her character very endearing.

Basically, this is a very sweet, light and enjoyable film. Perfect for watching when you want something that you don’t need to think too hard about, but that will put a smile on your face. Definitely recommended for all fans of musicals.

Year of release: 1955

Director: Jean Negulesco

Producer: Samuel G. Engel

Writers: Jean Webster (novel), Phoebe Ephron, Henry Ephron

Main cast: Fred Astaire, Leslie Caron, Thelma Ritter, Fred Clark

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This was Cary Grant’s penultimate film, before he retired from acting – and it shows that while he may have felt the time was coming when he should hang up his hat, he had certainly lost none of his charisma and screen presence. In this film, he plays against type as Walter Eckland, a slacker who is dragooned into living on an isolated island during WW2, from where he can report any signs of Japanese ships or planes. His life is shaken up with the arrival of schoolteacher Catherine Freneau (Leslie Caron), who has been stranded on the island with a number of schoolgirls…

Cary Grant was a master at romantic comedies, and this is probably one of his best. I really liked Grant with a more scruffy unshaven look (he himself said that this role was the closest to what he was actually like in real life), and his performance here is spot on, and very funny. Leslie Caron is also great – she looks lovely and brings a lot of comedy to her role, although she always reminds me of Audrey Hepburn (and I actually think Audrey would have been wonderful in this role also).

The idea of two mis-matched people being thrown together is nothing new (see The African Queen and Heaven Knows Mr Allison, for two comparable films), and as this is a romantic comedy, you can probably guess where it’s going, although the ending is still a delightful surprise.

For my money, this is one of Cary Grant’s better films – I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would certainly recommend it!

Year of release: 1964

Director: Ralph Nelson

Producer: Robert Arthur

Writers: S. H. Barnett, Peter Stone, Frank Tarloff

Main cast: Cary Grant, Leslie Caron, Trevor Howard

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Gigi (Leslie Caron) is a young girl living in Paris in 1900, and being raised by her grandmother and great aunt to be a courtisan.  Gaston (Louis Jourdan) is a rich Parisian playboy, who has become bored of his superficial lifestyle.  He and Gigi have a platonic friendship, but as she becomes more sophisticated and grown up, the dynamic of their relationship starts to change…

This film, based on the novel by French author Colette, was not the last musical released by the MGM studios, but it was the last musical made by the Arthur Freed Unit at MGM (this unit was responsible for many of the classic musicals of the day, including Easter Parade, An American in Paris, and of course, Singin’ In The Rain).  The unit’s swansong did very well, being nominated for nine Oscar awards, and winning all of them, breaking the then record of eight Oscars, held by Gone With The Wind.

I thought the film was good, but not great.  Some parts of it definitely worked – Leslie Caron was a delight as Gigi.  I was not convinced by her performance in An American In Paris (although I love An American In Paris and never get bored of watching it), but here she was great, and actually rather adorable.  Audrey Hepburn was originally picked to play the part (having played Gigi on stage before she was famous), but due to other filming commitments, she was not available.  Audrey is one of my favourite actresses, and I think she would have been perfect in the role, but Leslie Caron really worked well.  Louis Jourdan was also great as the cynical and bored Gaston – making what could have been rather a dislikeable character into someone who the viewer liked a lot.  Hermione Gingold and Isabel Jeans provided good support as Gigi’s grandmother and great aunt.

There were some lovely songs, in particular the title number sung by Louis Jourdan as he wanders throughout Paris, realising that his feelings for Gigi are changing; and the incredibly catchy The Night They Invented Champagne which I couldn’t get out of my head after watching the film.

Paris itself looks fabulous – most of the film was shot on location there, and it really is a lovely setting, very colourful and pretty.

There were some parts that I didn’t like – Maurice Chevalier’s character Honore (the uncle of Gaston) seemed an unnecessary and distasteful character.  This is no criticism of Chevalier’s acting, which was fine, but the character was hard for me to warm to.  In one scene Honore is highly delighted upon hearing that a former girlfriend of Gaston’s has tried to kill herself after he ended her relationship.  Honore toasts Gaston and says that he hopes this will be the first of many suicides.  It may have been written flippantly, but this scene did not sit well with me.  (Indeed the whole storyline of two women training their young relation to be a courtesan could be distasteful, although it was handled fairly well and with humour.)

I was also slightly disappointed that there was no dancing in this film!  I love to see fabulous dancing in musicals, and with Leslie Caron being an excellent ballet dancer, it feels like a missed opportunity not to show off her skills.

Overall then, it’s an enjoyable film, but ultimately a forgettable one.  Worth watching for fans of musicals.

Year of release: 1958

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Writers: Colette (novel), Alan Jay Lerner

Main cast: Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan


Click here for my review of the book.


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Gene Kelly is Jerry Mulligan, a former GI, who has decided to stay on in Paris after World War II.  He spends his days painting and trying to sell his pictures, but is constantly short of money and only just ekes out a living.  When a rich heiress, Milo Roberts (Nina Foch) sees him and decides to sponsor him, it becomes apparent that she is interested in more than just his art….but meanwhile Jerry has fallen in love with French girl Lise (Leslie Caron); however Lise has a secret that she is hiding from Jerry.

After watching and loving Singin’ In The Rain, I was eager to see more of Gene Kelly’s dancing, and this film fit the bill.  There is a more subtle note to the dancing in this film (except for the last 20 minutes) and less of the showier numbers that appeared in Singin’ In The Rain.  Nonetheless, Kelly’s dancing is still a real joy to watch, and I enjoyed the musical numbers.

Nina Foch was terrific and beautiful as Milo, and Oscar Levant as Jerry’s best friend Adam Cook – a fantastic pianist with a sarcastic sense of humour – also had some great moments.  However, Leslie Caron was less convincing – while she could certainly dance well, her acting was pretty shaky in parts.  To be fair however, it was her debut film performance, and she was not the first choice for the film; originally Cyd Charisse was supposed to play Lise, but had to turn the role down when she discovered she was pregnant (I would have loved to have seen Charisse in the part).

Towards the end of the film, there is a huge, lavish, extravagant and colourful dance number which goes on for about 16 minutes.  I’ve read mixed reviews about this; some people think it serves no real purpose other than to show off the dancing itself.  That may well be true; however, at the time it was probably a brave and unusual thing to do – there is actually no dialogue in the last 20 or so minutes of the film – and I really liked the dance number, which even had it’s own mention in the opening credits, and was called The American In Paris Ballet (although there is also some fabulous tap dancing in it).

Definitely another feel good movie – and certainly one I’d recommend!

Year of release: 1951

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Writer: Alan Jay Lerner

Main cast: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Nina Foch, Oscar Levant

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