The Young Girls of Rochefort
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The Young Girls of Rochefort (French: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, lit. 'The Young Ladies of Rochefort') is a 1967 French musical comedy film written and directed by Jacques Demy. The ensemble cast is headlined by real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac, along with Gene Kelly, and features Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, George Chakiris, and Grover Dale. The choreography was by Norman Maen.
|The Young Girls of Rochefort|
French theatrical release poster
|French||Les Demoiselles de Rochefort|
|Directed by||Jacques Demy|
|Produced by||Gilbert de Goldschmidt|
|Written by||Jacques Demy|
|Music by||Michel Legrand|
|Edited by||Jean Hamon|
|Box office||$8 million|
Michel Legrand composed the score, to Demy's lyrics. The most famous songs from this film score are "A Pair of Twins" ("Chanson des Jumelles" in French) and "You Must Believe in Spring" ("Chanson de Maxence"). The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. The film was a success for Demy in France with a total of 1,319,432 admissions.
A stage musical based on Demy's film was produced in France in 2003, adapted by Alain Boublil and directed by Daniel Moyne.
In the seaside town of Rochefort, a caravan of trucks arrives, bringing the fair that is coming to the town square over the weekend. The story centers on twin sisters Delphine and Solange. Delphine teaches ballet classes and Solange gives music lessons, but each longs to find her ideal love and a life outside of Rochefort. When the fair comes to town, Delphine and Solange meet two smooth-talking but kind-hearted carnies, Étienne and Bill.
The twins' mother Yvonne, who owns a café in the center of town, pines for the fiancé she left impulsively 10 years earlier because of his embarrassing last name, Dame. Yvonne's café becomes a central hub for Étienne and Bill, as well as most of the other characters in the film, including a waitress named Josette. In the café, Yvonne meets Maxence, a sailor about to be demobbed from the navy. Maxence is a poet and painter, and is searching for his ideal woman. Meanwhile, Delphine is unhappy in her relationship with egotistical gallery owner Guillaume, so she ends it. As she is leaving the gallery, she notices a painting that looks remarkably like her, and was in fact painted by Maxence. Delphine becomes determined to meet her secret admirer.
Unbeknownst to Yvonne, her former fiancé Simon Dame has recently opened a music store in Rochefort. He knows his fiancée had twins from a previous relationship, but he never met them. Solange, an aspiring composer, enlists Simon's help—unaware of his relationship with her mother—and he promises to introduce her to his successful American colleague Andy Miller. On her way to pick up her younger brother Booboo from school, Solange bumps into a charming foreigner, who turns out to be Andy, though the two do not exchange names.
Back in the square, the two female dancers in Étienne and Bill's show run off with sailors, so they ask Delphine and Solange to perform, offering them a free ride to Paris in return. The day after the fair, as the twins are packing, Simon stops by and urges Solange to meet Andy at the music store. Maxence stops by the café to say goodbye to Yvonne before departing for Paris. Moments after he leaves, Delphine shows up to say goodbye as well. Once Yvonne learns that Simon volunteered to pick up Booboo from school, she asks Delphine to watch the café and rushes over to see Simon. Maxence briefly returns to retrieve a bag he had forgotten, but he and Delphine again miss each other. At the music store, Solange realizes that the foreigner is Andy; the two dance and kiss.
The truck caravan is leaving, and tired of waiting for Yvonne to return, Delphine takes the road to Paris with Étienne, Bill and Josette. Along the road, Maxence tries to hitchhike his way to Paris. One of the trucks stops to pick him up and is revealed to be the one in which Delphine is, though the long-awaited meeting between the two does not occur on-screen.
Gene Kelly, though he spoke French quite well, did not record his own songs. According to Michel Legrand, "[Kelly] had a short tessitura, only one octave. In Hollywood, where I often worked with him, he used to record with two other singers: one on his left for the low notes and one on his right for the high notes." Legrand called an English-speaking Canadian singer named Don Burke to record the songs, who sang in French with an American accent.
An English-language version of the film was shot simultaneously with the French-language version. According to George Chakiris, the English-language version was the one released in the United States, where it didn’t perform well. As of 2020, the English version has never been released on home video.
- Catherine Deneuve as Delphine Garnier
- George Chakiris as Etienne
- Françoise Dorléac as Solange Garnier
- Jacques Perrin as Maxence
- Michel Piccoli as Simon Dame
- Jacques Riberolles as Guillaume Lancien
- Grover Dale as Bill
- Geneviève Thénier as Josette
- Henri Crémieux as Dutrouz
- Pamela Hart as Judith
- Leslie North as Esther
- Patrick Jeantet as Booboo
- Gene Kelly as Andy Miller
- Danielle Darrieux as Yvonne
- "The Young Girls of Rochefort de Jacques Demy (1966)". UniFrance. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
- "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967)". JPBox-Office. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
- Smith, Kyle. "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort". Cinémathèque Française. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
- "See 'Young Girls of Rochefort' free in Central Park". New York Post. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
- ""Cinquante ans après "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort", Michel Legrand raconte sa BO culte"". Retrieved 24 June 2020.
- ""Not the Same Old Song and Dance"". Retrieved 10 July 2020.
- ""Director's Widow Lovingly Restores 'Young Girls of Rochefort'". Retrieved 10 July 2020.
- The Young Girls of Rochefort on IMDb
- The Young Girls of Rochefort at Rotten Tomatoes
- Section about the film at the website of Rochefort town council (in French)
- Chicago Reader Review of The Young Girls of Rochefort
- The Young Girls of Rochefort: Not the Same Old Song and Dance – an essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Criterion Collection