Paul Gambaccini discovers how Gigi, starring Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jourdan, won a record-breaking nine Oscars, including the Best Picture Award, in 1959.
In April 1959 the musical Gigi, starring Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jourdan, won nine Oscars including the Best Picture Award, breaking the previous record of eight awards which went to Gone With The Wind in 1940. Paul Gambaccini discovers how the combination of Gallic charm and memorable songs, including The Night They Invented Champagne, Gigi and I Remember It Well, sanitised Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette's risque novella for the big screen.
Considered to be the last of MGM's great musicals, Gigi tells the story of a young girl being groomed as a courtesan, and the movie's producers battled with the censors to get it made. Director Vincente Minnelli's lavish film, which was shot mostly in Paris, sugar-coated the subject matter, and Caron's gamine performance melted Hollywood cinemagoers.
The programme also explores how Gigi represented the passionate early days of the on-off American love affair with France - a relationship that has come under strain in recent years following the war in Iraq.