Jacques Demy | “The Young Girls of Rochefort” – 1967

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Les Demoiselles de Rochefort


ID

Jacques Demy | #jacquesdemy
(Jacques Louis Raymond Marcel Demy)
[1931-1990], Pontchâteau, Pays de la Loire, France

Description


The Young Girls of Rochefort (French: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort; literally “The Young Ladies of Rochefort”) is a 1967 French musical film written and directed by Jacques Demy, starring Gene Kelly, Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac. It also starred Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, George Chakiris and Grover Dale. The choreography was by Norman Maen.

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 Academy Awards for Best Original Score (Original or Adaptation). The film was also another big success for Demy in France with a total of 1,319,432 admissions.

The Young Girls of Rochefort takes place over the course of one weekend in the seaside town of Rochefort, where a fair is coming to the town square. The story centers on twin sisters Delphine (Deneuve) and Solange (Dorléac) — Delphine teaches ballet classes and Solange gives music lessons for a living, 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 (George Chakiris) and Bill (Grover Dale).

The twins’ mother Yvonne (Danielle Darrieux) owns a café in the center of town, and pines for a fiancé she left impulsively ten years before due to his embarrassing last name of “Dame.” Yvonne’s café becomes a central hub for Étienne and Bill as well as most of the other characters in the film. In the café, Yvonne meets a sailor about to be demobbed from the navy, Maxence (Jacques Perrin). Maxence is a poet and painter, and is searching for his true feminine ideal. Little does Yvonne know, her former fiancé, Simon Dame (Michel Piccoli), 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 songwriter, enlists the help of Simon Dame (she is unaware of his relationship with her mother), who promises to introduce her to his successful American colleague Andy Miller (Gene Kelly). As Solange is on her way to pick up her younger brother Booboo from school, she happens to bump into a charming foreigner, who turns out to be Andy. However, the two do not exchange names.

Meanwhile, Delphine is unhappy in her relationship with the egotistical gallery owner Guillaume (Jacques Riberolles), so she ends the relationship. In the gallery, as she is about to leave, Delphine notices a painting that looks remarkably like her. The image was in fact painted by Maxence. 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. On the day of the fair, the paths of all of the characters cross again at the town square and in Yvonne’s café.
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