Cinema: The New Pictures, may 19, 1958

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Do the customers get their money's worth? It depends on what they are paying for. Gigi is dressed to kill, but if all the French finery impresses the customers, it also smothers the story. Worse still, the physical exuberance of the production flusters the pensive sensuality of Colette's mood like a poodle in a cage of lovebirds. But in the details, the script sticks surprisingly close to the book. Gigi (Caron) is a dear little French girl whose grand aunt and grandmother have given her a strict upbringing in the finest traditions of their family—which happens to be a family of expensive prostitutes. Gigi's mother is the black sheep—she has sunk to a respectable job as a second lead in the Opera-Comique—and Gigi's guardians (Hermione Gingold and Isabel Jeans) are taking no chances with such bad heredity. They drill the little girl in the fundamentals of her profession: 1) the proper way to eat an ortolan ("Bad table manners have broken up more homes than infidelity"); 2) the proper method of assaying a jewel ("Wait for the first-class jewels, Gigi. Hold on to your ideals!"); 3) the proper attitude toward marriage (''Instead of getting married at once, it sometimes happens we get married at last").

The picture offers an occasional soupçcon of French seasoning ("The only people who make love all the time are liars"), some charming lecherdemain in the scenes involving Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold, a sexless performance from Caron and a lifeless one from Jourdan, a wonderful happy ending which wittily demonstrates that life has more tricks than an old tart, a singable (though not memorable) musical score, and enough bibelots, furbelows, fichus, berthas, boas, sconces, socles, credenzas, teapoys and Canterburies to deliriously overdecorate this most ornate of the cinema's recurrent funerals for the fin de sieècle.

Paris Holiday (Tolda; United Artists). "Je t'adore," Anita Ekberg murmurs throatily to Bob Hope. "I did," he replies, glancing nervously at the door of his stateroom. He'll be sorry he did. Ekberg is a sneaking budge for a counterfeit ring, and Hope is an actor who wants to produce a play that exposes her employers. Arrived in Paris ("Say, that's the biggest TV tower I've ever seen"), Hope discovers that his room opens on the very same balcony as Anita's—a coincidence that could easily prove fatal, or even embarrassing. Hope is in love with Martha Hyer, a mighty jealous girl who works for the U.S. embassy when she is not repulsing his amorous advances ("This is the mating season for shellfish, you know"). Anyway, things get worse before they get better, and in the end, Hope makes a desperate attempt to get the comedy off the ground. He grabs the dragrope of a passing helicopter. Very unfunny. In fact, the only funny things in the picture seem to happen when Hope has the help of his side man, France's Fernandel. They make a great team. Hope supplies what Fernandel lacks: English. And Fernandel supplies what Hope lacks: humor.

*Eighteen Gigi albums and 15 single records are already released or in production.

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