AskDefine | Define gigot

Dictionary Definition

gigot n : lamb leg suitable for roasting [syn: leg of lamb]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A leg of lamb or mutton when used for cooking

Extensive Definition

Gigot was an American motion picture released in 1962 by 20th Century Fox. It starred Jackie Gleason and was directed by Gene Kelly.


Gigot (Gleason) is a mute Frenchman living in the Montmartre district of Paris at the turn of the twentieth century. He makes a hand-to-mouth living as a janitor at his landlady's apartment building. Though treated with condescension by most of his neighbors, he is much loved by the local children and by animals, whom he often feeds. He seems content with his life, though he has one strange passion: he attends every local funeral, whether or not he knew the departed, marching in the funeral march and crying along with the other mourners.
One rainy evening he is returning home when he comes across a prostitute named Collette (Katherine Kath) and her young daughter Nicole(Diane Gardner) sitting in a doorway trying to keep dry. He lets them stay at his apartment. Collette is suspicious of Gigot from the start but young Nicole warms to him right away. One of the highest points in the movie is the scene wherein Gleason does a stunning pantomime, Gigot takes Nicole to church only to discover she is unbaptized and completely ignorant of what a church is and unaware of God. Young Nicole points to a crucifix and asks Gigot what it is. Gigot clearly struggling and regretful of his muteness acts out the story of Christ beginning with Mary cradling the baby Jesus, His childhood through to the horror of the crucifixion. When Gigot is through he opens his eyes to see Nicole staring at him with a single tear on her face. Nicole then turns and blows a kiss to Christ on the cross. Gigot oftens entertains the little girl, sometimes by dancing to his old Victrola, and on another by dressing as a waiter to feed his mouse. He is also very protective of Nicole, once running alongside her on a merry-go-round to make sure she doesn't fall off. It is this protectiveness that leads him to prevent Collette from plying her trade several minutes later on a park bench near the merry-go-round. Furious, Collette wants to know what Gigot will do for money, after all his meager wages won't support the three of them. Not certain what to do, an opportunity is handed him when he is at the bakers, to get some broken cookies to feed to the pigeons. The baker is called away, leaving the till open. Gigot is very reluctant, but steals from the till. He takes the broken cookies - and leaves the usual steep payment for them!
With his ill-gotten gains, Gigot, Collette and Nicole go on a shopping spree, buying much-needed new clothes for Collette and Nicole and a meal at the local restaurant for all three. Gigot is even persuaded to get a straw boater. But the good times are not to last when the baker discovers the theft, and soon Gigot is a suspect. When Gigot and Nicole go missing (they're only at his apartment, listening to the Victrola while Gigot dances) Collette gets distraught. Gigot dances with a little too much gusto though, the roof in the apartment falls in. Gigot is unhurt, but Nicole is unconscious. Frightened, he takes the girl to a doctor. Thinking the Victrola may help, he goes back to retrieve it and runs staright into an angry mob. (He needn't have worried: Nicole is not seriously hurt.) The mob chases Gigot to what looks like an old mine near the river, Gigot falls into the river and does not resurface. The locals think Gigot is dead, and organise a funeral for him. Gigot is not dead, merely resurfaced upstream. He sees the funeral march and as always follows, though he keeps a distance. When the time comes for the eulogy, he realizes it is he they're holding the service for, and is moved by what may be their false sentiments. Suddenly, one of the mourners sees Gigot, and the chase starts again.


Gleason had conceived the story himself years earlier and had long dreamed of making the film. He wanted Orson Welles as director, and though Welles was an old friend, the board at Fox rejected him as being an overspender. Gene Kelly was selected as a compromise.
The film was shot on location in Paris. Most of the production crew and cast were French, some spoke no English. Gleason bore with this in two ways: Kelly spoke French, and Gleason's character had no lines, being mute.
Gleason was extremely proud of the film, which earned one Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Score. Gleason received a story credit and a music credit. On the other hand, according to the book The Films of Gene Kelly by Tony Thomas, Kelly himself said that the movie "had been so drastically cut and reedited that it had little to do with my version."
In 2004, the movie was remade for television as The Wool Cap with William H. Macy.
The term "gigot" means "leg of mutton" in French. This presumably refers to Gigot's muteness.
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