Little Girls Grow Up in Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Gigi

Allow me to make a few connections. Yesterday I watched THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965), a Best Picture winner with four other wins and five more nominations. Today, with my good friend Heather, I watched another musical: MY FAIR LADY (1964). It was nominated for 12 Oscars, winning 8 including Best Picture. Unlike THE SOUND OF MUSIC, which used helicopters to capture the expanse of the Apls and historic Austrian convents for Maria, MY FAIR LADY is “staged.” The movements of each actor are precise and calculated much in the way you see on the stage.

To finish my current movie theme–musical that see girls grow to women–I am watching GIGI (1958). It’s an appropriate mix of the two previous films. There is a certain quality of staging, but also the play of Parisian landscape.  It won 9 Academy Awards, Best Picture and Best Director to Vincente Minnell among the statues. More than anything, Gigi makes me smile to myself and even laugh out loud.

But now to expand on the theme that connects these three. . .

Maria begins an apparently orphan, born at the foothills of the Apls and pursuing a career in a nunnery. Eliza is a ill-educated flower girl covered in London soot. Gigi skips onto the screen in school cloths, whining and running about without much sense. All three “girls” watch the credits with a charming grasp on their fella’s heart. But before the credits, before the kisses and the agreements of affection, the girls transition and mature into women. These musicals are not love stories, oh no. Their merit was realized by the Academy for their character development, for the maturation stories of three girls.

Love and growing up does not come easy, and Maria, Eliza and Gigi handle both with great respect, establishing in song to the audience their own strength of character. Should the film gods conspire against them and their men never come around, these ladies would be aye-okay.

Possibly, though, it is the quality of being aye-okay that brings the gentlemen shuffling forward on their knees. This is a lesson I go to bed with, pondering my own sense of self worth and questioning the true worth of men.

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