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  • mik-1913 April 2004
    Warning: Spoilers
    The first two thirds of 'Gaby' work like a charm. A young American paratrooper in the bombed-out London of 1944 falls instantly in love with French ballerina on his 48 hour leave. They decide to marry, but she won't spend the night with him the day before, and he is sent off to participate in D-day and is reported missing in action ...

    So far, so good. Leslie Caron and John Kerr make an attractive young couple, and there is such unaffected sweetness and poignancy in their interacting. The last third doesn't quite convince of the sudden change in Gaby's character (there won't be any spoilers in this review!), and there are quite a few surprises in store. Not all of them work in the dramatic sense.

    A cross between 'Brief Encounter' and 'Waterloo Bridge' (on which it was based), and much, much too sweet not to give a chance. TCM airs it frequently.
  • All and all this is not a bad movie, and Leslie Caron is truly one of those actresses whom you just can't help falling in love with, she has that magical presence that is the mark of a great actress, and even thou it's not one of her best her performance, her performance in this movie is definitely impeccable, but still this movie it's essentially a lightweight remake of the three times before filmed Waterloo Bridge, so even thou Leslie Caron is as always charming, I suggest a peek at Vivien Leigh as the delicate dancer Myra and Robert Taylor as Col./Capt. Roy Cronin in the 1940 release of Waterloo Bridge, a movie that is (even thou slightly forgotten) undoubtedly one of the best romantic movies ever made.
  • gleywong25 January 2003
    The plot may be hackneyed (see previous review), but the performances ring true, and Leslie Caron is nothing less than sterling. Also, the dialogue in the script (written by veterans Sherwood and Behrman) holds up after these many years and sits better on my ears than many a television or even movie script today.

    "Gaby" reminds me of the film Caron did later about the effects of war on ordinary people in London, "The L-shaped Room (1962)," in which she appears more sophisticated, also falling in love with an Englishman, but in which there is no committment on his part and no "happy ending." As the American serviceman, Kerr is a bit stiff in the beginning of this movie, but eventually grows into his role, and Caron is supple as a dancer in her timing and delivery, her English impeccably musical and her face still retaining the innocence and bit of "baby fat" that we cherish in her "American in Paris" debut. Because she had such thorough ballet training, people tend to remember her in the many musicals with ballet routines, but Caron was equally good, possibly even better, in pure drama, such as these two films. Of course, the director should be given credit for drawing out the genuine emotion in her performances, but she could also do comedy, with that great timing that she had (see her in "Last of the Blonde Bombshells" which she did at age seventy with Judi Dench.)

    Caron has an authenticity and committment in her roles that comes across on screen for me the same way Audrey Hepburn does, and did from the very beginning, in her "Roman Holiday" debut. Not only were Caron and Hepburn real persons with inner lives (who not so incidentally had witnessed and survived WW II) when they were tapped by and discovered for the movies, they also didn't go through the technical hoops of acting training that the professionals of today bring to similar roles. Actresses of today tend to bring more training and "acting talent" to their roles, but less inner complexity, resulting in, for me, a less authentic performance, regardless of the high budget and publicity hoopla.

    Supporting roles by Taina Elg, Cedric Hardwicke and Margallo Gillmore also do not let the movie down. Taina is better in "Gaby" than in the frivolous but enjoyable "Les Girls." And Hardwicke had such a distinguished career that one cannot imagine him consenting to play this very minor part if he didn't think the whole project worthwhile. In sum, highly recommended and requiring hankies for the vulnerable.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm a true fan of Leslie Caron, so by definition she cannot be in less than a good movie. "Gaby" is a French ballet dancer in London in 1944. Her parents are dead, she is alone, and resists but gives in to the stalking by the American G.I. from Omaha. During filming she was 24, but already in her 9th film. Her only true dancing is during the opening ballet numbers, and does esentially no singing.

    Who in their right mind would meet one day, spend an evening together, not even kiss goodnight, and yet decide the next day they are in love and want to get married? Well, maybe in 1944, during the war. Fortunately for the story, they were unaware of all the military 'red tape' to guarantee a 'cooling off period', so he went off to V-Day invasion still single. He writes letters, she dances, they are both lonesome.>

    In her first visit to his aunt in London, she gets word that a telegram had been received, reporting his being missing and presumably dead. She was devastated. Months later, they find out he had been wounded, taken in by the French, and was coming back and going home. Friends threw a pre-wedding party, permissions were granted, but she felt unworthy and tried to run away. In an excruciatingly slow scene in the bedroom, where she didn't want to tell him why, she finally admitted to having become a 'loose woman' during his presumed death. She had not forgiven herself for not allowing him to spend what she thought was his last night with her.

    This is a good example of a 50s film, not one of Caron's best, still highly watchable.
  • During World War II, American paratrooper John Kerr (as Gregory "Greg" Wendell) arrives in London on a 48-hour pass. Making his way out to find female companionship, Mr. Kerr collides with pretty French ballerina Leslie Caron (as Gaby). He is smitten. She is not. After watching her dance, Mr. Kerr visits Ms. Caron backstage. She gradually becomes interested and they begin a whirlwind romance. They want to consummate, but are unable to get married due to their alien status. Caron decides to "save herself" (like they used to say) while he goes back into battle. Alas, he's reported dead. Feeling bad about not giving Kerr something to remember, Caron decides to give it up for other soldiers...

    It turns out the news about Kerr wasn't exactly accurate...

    "Gaby" has been criticized for sanitizing the opening status of Caron's character and altering the original ending of Robert E. Sherwood's play "Waterloo Bridge" (1930), which previously impressed film critics in versions starring Mae Clarke (1931) and Vivien Leigh (1940). However, the important alteration is in timing; note, the explicit exchange where Caron ends with, "Not a man, Greg…MEN!" The problem, this time, is that Caron shows little degradation during this period; she appears chic and confident, throughout. The different ending, while not as memorable, can be applauded for not punishing "Gaby" for her perceived "sinful" behavior. The revisions aren't as bad, as they seem...

    Possibly restrained by the production values, director Curtis Bernhardt is unable to give the story enough intimacy...

    Caron could have shown some interest in Kerr during their first encounters, and still been standoffish. They're supposed to be drawn to each other, as if they were destined to meet. This is touched upon in a scene hinting at reincarnation. The reincarnation mention may have also been included to support MGM's use of "Where or When" (by Rogers and Hart) as the film's theme. The timeless song is used well. Another revision is having Kerr sustain a symbolic wound; yet, it is another addition which doesn't fully take full advantage of the dramatic opportunities. Veteran stage actress Margalo Gillmore (as Helen Carrington) has a couple of outstanding scenes. In spite of all, the co-stars are a nice couple.

    ****** Gaby (5/9/56) Curtis Bernhardt ~ Leslie Caron, John Kerr, Taina Elg, Margalo Gillmore
  • This film is a re-make of "Waterloo Bridge" which I saw many years ago. It was an atmospheric love story with sterling performances from Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor. The original play was by Robert E. Sherwood, also known for "The Petrified Forest".

    This re-make fails on several counts. First of all there is almost no atmosphere. There is beautiful saturated color and cinemascope, neither of which add anything specific to the story. Furthermore, the sets in many scenes, especially at the end in the bombing, are so obviously fake you can almost imagine stagehands picking up the pieces for the next performance.

    Second, no matter how hard she tries, Leslie Caron is not convincing as a prostitute. As a dancer, yes. When she abandons dance for prostitution we do not see a transition. She gives as a reason for her actions remorse over sending Greg away before their love was consummated. Now that he is dead, she wants to give others what she deprived him of. A rather shaky rationalization.

    Third, no matter how hard he tries John Kerr is incapable of playing a grown-up. He is forever the boyish young man, awkward in speech and movement.

    The film does not have a smooth trajectory. The individual scenes seem to be patched together.

    The ending, likewise, is not convincing. He forgives her as if all she had done was to ruin the soufflé. They seem like two kids in love playing around with adult games.

    The fault for all of this lies in the general concept of this particular re-make, which the producers obviously felt had to be more sugar-coated for the audience of the mid-fifties, unwilling, no doubt, to accept Leslie Caron as a bad girl. But in the end, nothing is gained by this strategy.

    However, there is still some charm - almost unavoidable when Leslie Caron is the star - and some moments that show the promise of what might have been a very good movie.
  • Basically for fans of Leslie Caron. A sweet, innocent ballerina working in England during WWII becomes a "loose" woman after she presumes that her "love-at-first-sight American G.I. fiance is dead. Prostitution is strongly hinted at, and she feels ashamed after he turns up "crippled" but quite alive. Beautifully filmed in CinemaScope and Eastman Color, which does add something to the movie. Quite unbelievable, but if you are a fan of Caron, you will enjoy this move as she has great "screen presence" and makes it an earnest performance that outshines the material. Certainly no "Gigi" or "Lili", to be sure.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Gaby" (1956) is a film about a French ballerina's romance in London during WWII. Leslie Caron gives a superb performance in a role with many emotions, including love, heartbreak, and disillusionment. John Kerr is very good as the chipper American paratrooper Greg. The movie is beautifully filmed in muted shades of blue, red and green. The sets look authentic, and there are many memorable scenes. Gaby and Greg are a charming couple. This is a romantic, sweet and poignant film.

    There is a particularly dramatic scene at the Ballet Theatre. Twenty ballerinas in full white tutus perform on stage against a blue background. Suddenly, air raid sirens blare, and explosions outside are heard. An "alert" sign flashes on the stage. The dancers bravely continue the performance.

    At the French canteen, Greg jumps on a table and sings a French song, to the delight of the audience. At a swanky American "bottle club," Greg shows Gaby how to swing dance.

    While walking down down a street at night, Gaby and Greg hear the air raid sirens blast. They quickly go into an underground bomb shelter.

    Gaby goes to a church to pray for Greg. The church has stained glass windows and candles.

    There is a nice scene in Gaby's apartment, where Gaby's roommate has left a wedding cake for the couple.

    The film shows dark foggy streets, dancers practicing backstage, and a luxurious mansion.

    Gaby wears a red dress when she tells Greg that she was a prostitute. She is symbolically a "scarlet woman."

    The film has a few shortcomings. It would have been nice to see more of Leslie Caron's dancing, since she was a professional ballerina who performed in Roland Petit's Ballet des Champs-Elysees. Also, her role as a disillusioned prostitute could have been presented more effectively.

    "Gaby" (1956) is significantly different from "Waterloo Bridge" (1931 and 1940), and has merit in its own right.

    This is an underrated film. I hope a DVD is released soon.
  • The 1931 and 1940 films, both named 'Waterloo Bridge', are very highly recommended, and are very good films in their own right with the slight edge going to the 1940 film despite being less faithful to the original story.

    Although it is a long way from a bad film, 'Gaby' isn't in the same league. There are a lot of things to like, with the best things being Leslie Caron, who despite being unconvincing as a prostitute (and the transition is even less convincing) beguiles and charms in the lead, and the luminous Metrocolor cinematography that gives the film a quaint 1950s sheen, the use of Cinemascope is also striking.

    Further great assets are the beautiful and never too sugary or melodramatic music score, and the timeless Rodgers/Hart-penned "Where or When". The two French songs ("Sur Le Pont D'Avignon" faring the slightly better of the two), "My Country Tis of Thee" and Chopin's Piano Concerto are also well used, just not leaving as big an impression in the film as "When or When". The dialogue is thought-provoking, some of the sets are nicely done and atmospheric and the supporting cast especially a distinguished Cedric Hardwicke acquit themselves very well.

    However, John Kerr's performance is very one-dimensional, with stiffness and awkwardness being the only real emotions he shows. Even those not completely enamoured with Robert Taylor's performance in the 1940 film will find themselves appreciating it more after seeing Kerr, I certainly did. His chemistry with Caron is quite bland too. 'Gaby' is also very dully directed by Curtis Bernhardt, with the film never seeming to find proper momentum.

    It is agreed that there is a lack of atmosphere- the 1931 film was gritty, at times steamy and dark while the 1940 film while, due to the Code and its constraints, tamer and more romanticised was very lovingly romantic, lavish and incredibly poignant. These are things that, other than a lavishness in the cinematography and some of the costumes and sets, 'Gaby' lacks, dullness and glimpses of sugary charm being the primary feelings here. The ending is pure contrived tack, as problematic as the ending of the 1931 film was it was still more believable than this, and things are all far too easily forgiven. Gaby's transformation is too sudden, and some of the sets are on the cheap and cobbled together side.

    All in all, watchable thanks to Caron and the cinematography, but anybody who loved the previous two 'Waterloo Bridge' film adaptations like this reviewer did will find themselves disappointed. 5/10 Bethany Cox
  • By the 1950s, remakes were very much the thing - 'Gaby', with Leslie Caron as the ballerina and John Kerr as the soldier, is the third film version of 'Waterloo Bridge' (first done with Mae Clarke and Kent Douglass in 1931, then with Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor in 1940). It's by far the most dull, even though it does make clear what Gaby has been up to while her beau was away at war.

    Leslie Caron being the star, of course Gaby is now French, not English. John Kerr is a GI who finds himself at a loose end on leave in London. There's air raids to content with, foggy streets, and taxis, as well as Gaby's fellow dancer and roommate, and the GI's English well-heeled relations.

    Sweet enough, but paling in comparison beside the other versions, both of whom have more merit. It's OK - but nothing special.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This third version of Waterloo Bridge retitled Gaby for the character Leslie Caron plays co-stars her with John Kerr who is an American soldier, a paratrooper awaiting the D-Day invasion. As you see it has been updated to be a World War II story this time.

    It also received one very bad change in the plot that reduces Gaby to just another wartime romance story. From a poignant tragedy in this one our female lead lives and the lovebirds go off happily ever after. It ruins the whole movie.

    Fans of Leslie Caron and John Kerr will like it for them. And Gaby is generally OK. But no more than that.