Friday, September 26, 2014


One of the great forgotten gems of the cinema was 1962's Gigot. The film starred Jackie Gleason, and it was not successful during it's theatre release. However, in recent years the film has gotten a cult following. Here is the original review by Bosley Crowther. It appeared in the NY Times on September 28, 1962...

THERE'S a vast lot of Jackie Gleason to pour out the pathos, when he does — and he does, to a point of saturation, in "Gigot" (pronounced "Gee-go"), which came to the Music Hall yesterday. Playing a huge, shabby Parisian who lives alone in a basement in Montmartre and communicates with his taunting neighbors in clumsy pantomime because he is mute, Mr. Gleason fairly opens the faucets that are connected to the mammoth reservoir of his own simple sentimentality and lets the syrup gush. Grubby, dirty and unshaven, he wallows around in this film, a well set-up prey for practical jokers, who treat him like the village idiot. His small eyes blink in solemn sadness, his pudgy hands fumble helplessly and his great, baggy frame droops resignedly when the cruel people make fun of him. His only true companion is a voracious cat that visits his hovel every morning and gets a dish of milk from him.

Then one night he finds, out in a rainstorm, a fallen woman and a soggy little girl. He takes them home to his dismal basement and generously takes care of them. Well, you can imagine what this leads to. The woman scorns and badgers him, but the little girl comes to love him, after he has won her with a lot of show-off stunts. And this leads to his wanting to keep them so intensely and desperately that he steals money to buy them fine dresses and to wine and dine them at the local bistro.

Is this beginning to sound a little like an old Charlie Chaplin film? If it is, we strongly imagine that's exactly what Mr. Gleason would have it do. For it is evident that his characterization of a lonely, unspeaking vagabond, who hungers for social acceptance and the warmth of somebody's love, is modeled after Chaplin, and the script that John Patrick has prepared (from a story provided by Mr. Gleason) is cut precisely to the pattern of a Chaplin film. But, unfortunately, Mr. Gleason, for all his recognized comic skill when it comes to cutting broad and grotesque capers, as he does now and then, does not have the power of expression or the subtleties of physical attitude to convey the poignant implications of such a difficult, delicate role.

His man is a ponderous, steamy figure whose maunderings are soggy and gross—and made only more so in the close-ups that Gene Kelly, who directed, has generously employed. (Remember, Chaplin was slight and graceful and always had a dauntless, dapper air.) His pantomimic exhibitions have little variety. His ways of looking pathetic are blunt and monotonous. What's more, there is too much of him. Mr. Gleason is virtually the whole show. Katherine Kath as the woman he shelters and Diane Gardner as her little girl are apt but confined in their performing. Their roles are stereotypes. (It is remarkable how much the youngster looks like Jackie Coogan in Chaplin's "The Kid.") Jacques Marin as a practical joker and Gabrielle Dorziat as the tenant of the house in which Mr. Gleason has his hovel are most expressive as real Parisians. True, there is a fast burst of morbid humor and sweet sentiment at the end, but it is awfully late in coming. A lot of moisture has by now gone down the drain...

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