French Institute Alliance Francaise Presents SUMMER OF MICHEL LEGRAND
The French Institute Alliance Fran aise (FIAF) honors the great French composer Michel Legrand, who died in January this year, with a special Cin Salon series devoted to his life and work. Curated by one of his longtime collaborators and greatest interpreters, singer and actress Melissa Errico, Summer of Michel Legrand brings together seven of his films from his best known triumphs such as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort to lesser known gems such as the enchanting fairy-tale musical Donkey Skin. Screenings take place on Tuesdays in July at 4pm and 7:30pm in FIAF's Florence Gould Hall.
Errico, who starred in Legrand's 2002 musical Amour, spurring a prolific and fulfilling artistic collaboration over two decades, will take part in a Q&A, discussing her relationship with the composer, following the screening of The Thomas Crown Affair.
I was so honored to be asked to be the curator of this series, and help celebrate the legacy of the great Michel Legrand, whose beautiful, joyful, sometimes melancholy but always affirmative melodies will live forever, Errico said. The hardest thing was choosing the films since there is something musically entrancing in every one some of them because of his songs, some because of his always original background scoring. I think we have a wonderful selection to give lovers of both Legrand and French movies many memorable summer nights.
The series centers on Legrand's output from 1962 to 1970, one of the most prolific periods of his career when he composed the aural landscape for a new generation of filmmakers who in turn revolutionized cinema. His particularly fruitful collaboration with Jacques Demy, which produced 10 films, is represented by four titles: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Bay of Angels, Donkey Skin, and The Young Girls of Rochefort. FIAF will also screen Cleo from 5 to 7 by Agn s Varda a fellow French icon who died this year for which Legrand not only scored the film but appeared in a cameo. Jean-Luc Godard's landmark Vivre sa Vie rounds out the French offerings in the series. The Thomas Crown Affair, one of the composer's most beloved scores which launched his career in Hollywood, is the sole English-language film of the series.
Over the course of his prolific career, French born composer and pianist Michel Legrand (1932 2019) wrote more than 200 film and television scores, as well as arranged and performed widely. Though he was classically trained, entering the Paris Conservatory at 10 years old, he created some of the most memorable songs of the second half of the 20th century. Some of his most famous compositions and collaborations, with lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman, generated modern standards such as The Windmills of Your Mind, The Summer of '42, What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?, Papa, Can You Hear Me?, and The Summer Knows.
Legrand scored musical soundtracks for countless movies across the globe. Among his most famous are the Oscar-winning Summer of '42, The Thomas Crown Affair, Ice Station Zebra, Yentl, The Young Ladies of Rochefort, and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Legrand also wrote for the stage, creating scores for a number of musicals such as Amour and Marguerite, as well as theatrical adaptations of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
Legrand worked with some of the music world's biggest stars, including Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Andy Williams, Lena Horne, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Liza Minelli, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Nana Mouskouri, Kiri Te Kanawa, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Oscar Peterson, Alison Moyet, Stephane Grappelli, Phil Woods, Sting, George Benson, and Natalie Dessay.
Melissa Errico is best known for her starring roles on Broadway, but her career is characterized by diverse interests in many creative corners of show business. She has had a steady career in television, appeared in feature films, and performed in non-musical roles in Off-Broadway plays by Shaw, Wilde, and others. She has also explored music as both a recording artist and concert singer, releasing several music albums and working with some of the world's best symphonies and jazz and cabaret spaces. More recently, she established herself as a writer, publishing essays in The New York Times and beyond. As a musical theater actress, she starred in the Broadway musicals Anna Karenina, My Fair Lady, High Society, Dracula, White Christmas, and Amour, which won her a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical and began a longtime association with its composer Michel Legrand. Last year, Melissa starred as Daisy Gamble in the acclaimed New York Irish Repertory Theatre's Off-Broadway revival of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.
SUMMER OF Michel Legrand
CHRONOLOGICAL LISTING OF EVENTS:
THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (LES PARAPLUIES DE CHERBOURG)
Tuesday, July 2 at 4pm & 7:30pm
Dir. Jacques Demy, 1964, 92min, DCP
With Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon
In French with English subtitles
Told entirely through Michel Legrand's lilting songs, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg launched the angelically beautiful Catherine Deneuve to stardom. This dazzling musical heart-tugger from Jacques Demy features Deneuve as an umbrella-shop owner's delicate daughter, glowing with first love for a handsome garage mechanic, played by Nino Castelnuovo. When the boy is shipped off to fight in Algeria, the two lovers must grow up quickly. Exquisitely designed in a kaleidoscope of colors, and inspiring some of Legrand's most memorable music for which he was nominated for three Oscars (Best Original Score, Best Song, and Best Musical Adaptation), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the most revered and unorthodox movie musicals of all time. (Synopsis courtesy Janus Films/The Criterion Collection)
CLEO FROM 5 to 7 (CLEO DE 5 7)
Tuesday, July 9 at 4pm & 7:30pm
Dir. Agn s Varda, 1962, 89min, DCP
With Corinne Marchand, Antoine Bourseiller, Dominique Davray
In French with English subtitles
Agn s Varda, who died in March 2019, eloquently captures Paris in the sixties with this real-time portrait of a singer (Corinne Marchand) set adrift in the city as she awaits test results of a biopsy. A chronicle of the minutes of one woman's life, Cl o from 5 to 7 is a spirited mix of vivid v rit and melodrama, featuring a score by Michel Legrand and cameos by Jean-Luc Godard, Anna Karina, and the composer himself. (Synopsis courtesy Janus Films/The Criterion Collection)
Marking the second collaboration between Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand, following 1961's Lola, this precisely wrought, emotionally penetrating romantic drama set largely in the casinos of Nice, is a visually lovely but darkly realistic investigation into love and obsession. A bottle-blonde Jeanne Moreau is at her blithe best as a gorgeous gambling addict, and Claude Mann is the bank clerk drawn into her risky world. The mesmerizing score by Legrand provides a backbone for one of Demy's most somber works. (Synopsis courtesy Janus Films/The Criterion Collection)
Bored millionaire Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen) concocts and executes a brilliant scheme to rob a bank without having to do any of the work himself. When Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway), an investigator for the bank's insurance company, takes an interest in Crown, the two begin a complicated cat-and-mouse game with a romantic undertone. In an attempt to decipher Anderson's agenda, Crown devises another robbery like his first, wondering if he can get away with the same crime twice. Director Norman Jewison notably cut the film to best utilize Legrand's iconic score, which included the Oscar-winning song The Windmills of Your Mind. (Synopsis courtesy MGM/UA Park Circus)
VIVRE SA VIE
Tuesday, July 23 at 4pm & 7:30pm
Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 1962, 85min, 35mm
With Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, Andr S. Labarthe
In French with English subtitles
Vivre sa vie was a turning point for Jean-Luc Godard and remains one of his most dynamic films, combining brilliant visual design with a tragic character study. It also marks his first of two films with Michel Legrand (the second being Band of Outsiders). The lovely Anna Karina, Godard's greatest muse, plays Nana, a young Parisian who aspires to be an actress but instead ends up a prostitute, her downward spiral depicted in a series of discrete tableaux of daydreams and dances. Featuring some of Karina and Godard's most iconic moments from her movie theater vigil with The Passion of Joan of Arc to her seductive pool-hall strut Vivre sa vie is a landmark of the French New Wave that still surprises at every turn. (Synopsis courtesy Janus Films/The Criterion Collection)
In this lovingly crafted, wildly eccentric adaptation of a classic French fairy tale, Jacques Demy joins Michel Legrand and Catherine Deneuve for a third time, following the successes of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. Deneuve plays a princess, who must go into hiding as a scullery maid in order to fend off an unwanted marriage proposal from her own father, the king (Jean Marais). A topsy-turvy riches-to-rags fable with enchanting songs courtesy of Legrand, Donkey Skin creates a tactile fantasy world that's perched on the border between the earnest and the satiric, and features Delphine Seyrig in a delicious supporting role as a fashionable fairy godmother. (Synopsis courtesy Janus Films/The Criterion Collection)
THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT
(LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT)
Tuesday, July 30 at 7:30pm
Michel Legrand karaoke follows screening
Dir. Jacques Demy, 1967, 126min, DCP
With Catherine Deneuve, George Chakiris, Fran oise Dorl ac, Jacques Perrin, Gene Kelly
In French with English subtitles
Twins Delphine and Solange, a dance instructor and a music teacher (played by real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Fran oise Dorl ac), long for big-city life; when a fair comes through their quiet port town, so does the possibility of escape. With its jazzy Michel Legrand score (which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Music), pastel paradise of costumes, and divine supporting cast (George Chakiris, Grover Dale, Danielle Darrieux, Michel Piccoli, and Gene Kelly), The Young Girls of Rochefort is a tribute to Hollywood optimism from sixties French cinema's preeminent dreamer. (Synopsis courtesy Janus Films/The Criterion Collection)