This is one of my favorite movies, a feast for the eyes and ears. It's often considered MGM's last great musical.
The art direction, music direction, and costume design is fantastic. And Leslie Caron had certainly matured as an actress since AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.
But some 21st century thinking makes the character of Honore as a pervert with his number "Thank Heaven for Little Girls". I don't agree, throughout the movie he only chased after adult women. And I wonder why the Hay's Office didn't object to the general theme of the film: that Gigi was being trained to be a courtesan--the kept woman of rich men. Perhaps it was because that Gigi didn't want to be a mere mistress, and at the end, she and Gaston were happily married. Perhaps, by 1958, the Hay's Office wasn't as powerful as it used to be.
I've always loved the musical and it is one I can revisit unlike My Fair Lady, which I hate now for the way she was treated. I love the songs, sets and costumes. The Hays office let a few questionable films get away with it during this time. Susan Slept Here is a totally a movie that is questionable.
i think the 'thank heavens for little girls' song is clearly about being glad that little girls grow up into big ones.
The theme is quite risque for the 50s, but i suppose as you say things were loosening up a bit by then.
Joe Breen, who had ruled over the Production Code with an iron hand from 1934 retired in 1951, turning the reins over to his #2 person, Geoffrey Shurlock. Within the couple of years before his retirement, Breen had started, for the first time, to get some serious blowback from the major studios who were talking out loud about Code revisions. Shurlock didn’t have the will or the fanaticism of Breen so, yeah, the Production Code enforcement began – slowly, very slowly – to lose its grip on what was seen on American movie screens. By the time “Gigi” arrived in 1958, the Code still had ten years to go, but was on the way out. Just the year before, the producers of “Sweet Smell of Success” were emboldened enough to receive Shurlock’s list of required script changes and then ignore them.