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Even at 60, MGM’s tribute to turn-of-the-century Paris seems both fresh and sophisticated. As the big Hollywood musical was fading at the box office, producer Arthur Freed, possibly at the suggestion of star Leslie Caron, came up with the idea of turning Colette’s novella about a young girl raised to be a kept woman into a musical on the grand scale. He got Alan Jay Lerner, hot off the stage success of My Fair Lady, to write the witty script and entrusted the direction to Vincente Minnelli, who turned the film into a feast for the senses. Initially, Audrey Hepburn was the desired lead but the role came back to Caron when Hepburn decided to pursue other projects. Caron, of course, was perfect as the young girl who grows up to become an elegant woman of the world, and the rest of the cast — Louis Jourdan, Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold chief among them — were an ideal match for their roles. The film was a box-office smash and won all nine Oscars for which it was nominated, including Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. At a time when rock ruled the charts, it even produced a best-selling soundtrack, with classics like “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” and “I Remember It Well.” (d. Vincente Minnelli, 115m, Digital)

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