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Thursday December 13th 2018

Gigi | 1958

Gigi film location: Musée Jacquemart Andre, Paris
Gigi location: the elegant house of Gaston Lachaille: Musée Jacquemart Andre, boulevard Haussmann, Paris

Location filming around the French capital adds bags of atmosphere to the musical version of Colette’s novel about a young girl in fin-de-siècle Paris, though it proved to be a real headache (and much was subsequently reshot later in Hollywood).

The opening and closing scenes were filmed in the Bois de Boulogne, the vast tract of forested parkland to the west of the city.

Gigi film location: Maxim's, rue Royale, Paris
Gigi location: the Belle Epoque: Maxim’s, rue Royale, Paris

The scenes in Maxim’s, 3 rue Royale, were actually filmed in the famed restaurant, which is where a launch party was held before filming started.

Filming in the famed restaurant was a nightmare, with director Vincente Minnelli given only a few days to get the shots he needed. Not only was it a tight space, it’s decorated with every cinematographer’s nightmare – endless mirrors, which necessitated avoiding the reflection of cameras, lights and stray technicians (who tend only to be noticed once the rushes are being viewed).

Maxim’s, of course, turns up again in Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris.

The elegant house of Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan) is the Musée Jacquemart-Andre, 158 boulevard Haussmann in the 8th arrondissement. A luxurious 19th century classical mansion, with paintings and a furniture collection, it was bequeathed to the Institut de France and is now open to the public.

The ice skating was filmed in the old Palais des Glaces, which is now the Théâtre du Rond-Point, 2bis Avenue Franklin D Roosevelt, on the corner of the Champs-Élysées. Built as a straight theatre, its rotunda became the Palais des Glaces, one of the most popular attractions of Belle Époque Paris, in 1893. After WWII, it became one of the principal venues of the Madeleine Renaud-Jean-Louis Barrault Company which introduced the world to many of the plays of Jean Giraudoux, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Anouilh, and Samuel Beckett. The theatre was renovated in 1981, and again in 2002, and is still devoted to the work of living authors.

Bad weather meant that the beach scenes, which were scheduled to be filmed at Trouville, were cancelled and filmed later at Venice Beach in dependably sunny Los Angeles.

That wasn’t all the LA filming. After a sneak preview in Santa Barbara, composers Alan J Lerner and Frederick Loewe decided there needed to be fairly major changes and pulled off a daring bluff by offering to buy the print of the film from MGM and fix it themselves. Believing they were serious, the company ordered re-shoots, by Charles Walters, and a re-orchestration of the entire score.