The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)

Genres - Musical, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Romance, Musical Comedy  |   Release Date - Mar 8, 1967 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

When originally released, Jacques Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort suffered in comparison with his earlier The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but its reputation has grown in the intervening years. Although not without flaws, Rochefort is a tremendously appealing and utterly engaging musical trifle. Breezy and light, Rochefort is also gorgeous and a delight to the eye; Demy's sense and use of color is practically overwhelming, and is as important to the success of the film as any other element. Much of Michel Legrand's music is buoyant, bubbly and lively, with a distinct jazz bent that pays homage to the Swingle Singers style of vocal harmony. Legrand's more dramatic music is less successful, coming off too often as melodrama. At least in translation, the lyrics are rather too prosaic and don't move the story along as much as could be desired; this is unfortunate, but the film engenders such cheery goodwill in the viewer that he is happy to overlook this and other flaws -- such as the fact that the singing voices of almost all of the leads (including Gene Kelly) are dubbed. Kelly dances wonderfully, as do the marvelous George Chakiris and Grover Dale, and as does the chorus. The choreography itself is too lightweight and forgettable, but the danced basketball segment is impressive. Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac are sheer delights, and Danielle Darrieux is a treat. Demy followed the frothy Rochefort with the far different, American-made The Model Shop.