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teaser Gaby (1956)

In MGM's 1956 drama Gaby, Leslie Caron stars in the title role as a young French ballet dancer living in London during World War II. Gaby falls in love with Greg (John Kerr), an American soldier on a 48-hour leave, after a whirlwind romance. The two want to be married right away, but too much red tape stands in the way. When the war parts them, a terrible misunderstanding leads Gaby down a dark path. Bursting from the screen in vivid Technicolor and CinemaScope, Gaby is a lavishly mounted tearjerker that was primarily conceived for female moviegoers of its era.

Gaby was based on the hit 1930 play Waterloo Bridge by Robert E. Sherwood and was the third film version of the story. Universal Pictures had made the first version called Waterloo Bridge in 1931 starring Mae Clarke. Produced in the Pre-Code era, the film was much more frank and realistic in its handling of sexual matters than any subsequent interpretation. MGM released the second version in 1940 (also called Waterloo Bridge) starring Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor. The screenplay for Gaby, written by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich and Charles Lederer, was based heavily on the screenplay to MGM's 1940 film, written by S.N. Behrman, Paul H. Rameau and George Froeschel. Behrman, Rameau and Froeschel all received screen credit on Gaby. While the previous versions of Waterloo Bridge took place during World War I, Gaby updated its story to World War II and changed the ending. The film was also decidedly less grim and downbeat than the two previous versions.

Gaby was intended as a vehicle for lovely Leslie Caron, who had begun her film career auspiciously, co-starring opposite Gene Kelly in An American in Paris (1951). As a classically trained dancer, Caron was naturally associated with the musicals in which she had become popular. However, Gaby was a straight dramatic role for her without musical numbers. Even though Caron plays a ballerina, dancing takes a secondary role to the complex emotions that her character must portray. Gaby gave Caron an opportunity to showcase her versatility as an actress.

Producer: Edwin H. Knopf
Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Screenplay: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Charles Lederer; S.N. Behrman (earlier screenplay), Paul H. Rameau, George Froeschel (earlier screenplay); Robert E. Sherwood (play "Waterloo Bridge")
Cinematography: Robert Planck
Art Direction: Daniel B. Cathcart, Cedric Gibbons
Music: Conrad Salinger
Film Editing: John McSweeney, Jr.
Cast: Leslie Caron (Gaby), John Kerr (Gregory Y. Wendell), Sir Cedric Hardwicke (Mr. Edgar Carrington), Taina Elg (Elsa), Margalo Gillmore (Mrs. Helen Carrington), Scott Marlowe (Jan), Ian Wolfe (Registrar), Joe Di Reda (Allen), Joseph Corey (Pete), James Best (Jim), Lisa Montell (Claire), Ruta Lee (Denise), Narda Onyx (Olga), Gloria Wood (Singer at the Bottle Club).
C-97m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.

by Andrea Passafiume

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