The Cinderella Party begins!! Yay!!
|Leslie Caron stars as Cinderella. Just look at that gown!!|
Ballet slippers, ash-covered maidens, charming princes dressed in white, kleptomaniac godmothers, secret gardens, and giant cakes to dance upon!! This is the wonder of the classic fairy-tale adaptation The Glass Slipper.
|Leslie Caron in An American in Paris, her first Hollywood role|
As a classic movie aficionado who formerly used to turn on TCM daily and watch whatever was on (I watched so many movies that I never want to see again, lol), I know a good classic movie is a rare but wondrous find. Back when musicals were rampant and dancing in a movie was an unchallenged precondition, glorious films like Singin’ in the Rain, The Sound of Music, and An American in Paris graced the silver screen. Dancers like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were leading stars of their movie companies and produced endless films with music, dance and classic fun. The Glass Slipper captures the heart of that age with a Cinderella story that is sweet and lovely.
|Leslie is so adorable!|
The story starts out with Ella, a poor girl with ash and soot smeared all over her face. She’s ridiculed and ostracized not only by her step-family, the Widow Sonder and her two daughters Birdina and Serafina, but also by the townsfolks who find her filthy, rude and loud. Most of their disgust with her lies in the fact that she tells everyone that one day she’s going to live in the palace – predicted at her birth by a wandering fortune teller. Of course, no one believes her and finds her arrogant and foolish – after all, she’s just an unwanted servant to her own family members. Ella tries to protect her tender heart with yelling and throwing tantrums at her critics and when that’s not enough, she runs away, fleeing into the forest to her secret garden.
Hiding out in a peaceful, green meadow with an icy-blue pond to bathe her feet in, Ella has a fateful meeting with a roving white-haired lady, who introduces herself as Mrs. Toquet. Ella knows her as the purported village idiot, a poor woman who steals knickknacks or “borrows” as she calls it, since she puts it back. To Ella’s utter surprise, Mrs. Toquet talks to and treats her like a friend. Ella’s spirits soar with this new friendship and eagerly returns to her hideout to meet again with Mrs. Toquet when she finds two well-dressed men lounging about. The man in white, who identifies himself as the son of the cook at the palace of the duke, is quite taken with her, so much so that Ella doesn’t know what to do and runs off.
|the prince, rocking that all-white attire ;)|
But Ella’s life-changing journey is only beginning, for unbeknownst to her the son of the cook is actually the prince, who recalls meeting her as a child, her sad eyes forever burned into his memory. Soon she’s learning to dance with the help of the prince and receiving an invitation to the ball. With the help of an eccentric Mrs. Toquet, Ella’s dreams of going to the ball come true – but can the prince truly marry a common woman like her? And can she be brave enough to love him and let him love her?
This lush period adaptation was put together by the powerhouse of early movie companies: MGM. Charles Walters, a former dancer and Broadway dance choreographer, joined MGM in the ‘40s where he worked as a dance director on several films like Meet Me in St. Louis. Walters started directing as well, creating musical hits like Easter Parade (I love this movie and have seen it so, so many times) and Summer Stock. In 1953 he directed the movie Lili which starred Leslie Caron. That same year he directed Torch Song which starred Michael Wildling. Finally in 1955, Walters was reunited with leading lady Caron and leading actor Wilding for his whimsical, ballet-influenced Cinderella film.
The French-American actress Leslie Caron probably never dreamed she would work in Hollywood. Leslie took dancing as a child, intensely studying ballet, influenced by her mother who was a former dancer. During that time, Roland Petit, a ballet dancer turned choreographer, led the French Ballet group Les Ballets des Champs-Elysee in the 1940s creating several hugely popular original ballets. 16-year-old Leslie Caron quickly arose to fame when she starred in Petit’s ballet La Rencontre. Fate would have it that Gene Kelly was watching from the audience during the premiere. Though he was unable to meet with Leslie that day, Gene Kelly didn’t forget the fairy-like ballerina and a couple years later, while preparing for An American in Paris, Gene sought Leslie for the starring role. Thus began Leslie’s career as an actress with later popular roles such as Gigi, Daddy Long Legs, and Father Goose. With The Glass Slipper and Daddy Long Legs (also released in 1955), Leslie Caron was reunited with Roland Petit who choreographed both films giving them their wonderful ballet dance sequences that made Leslie shine.
Sadly, The Glass Slipper wasn’t a commercial success for MGM and isn’t widely remembered among modern audiences. Even though it’s a basic, straightforward Cinderella story, the film remains quite charming to me, even more so than when I first saw it.
|Nothing like a prince with a British accent, am I right??|
The characters, particularly Ella, Prince Charles, and Mrs. Toquet are delightful. Leslie is adorable as the hot-tempered, yet tender-hearted Ella. She gives an easy simplicity to her character. Though she often fights with her selfish step-family, she secretly praises her step-sisters for their beauty and charm, clearly showing that she does care about them even if they don’t for her. And as a ballerina, she is effortlessly graceful. Prince Charles is endearingly sweet; a prince whose heart is unable to resist hurting people, particularly Ella. I also loved the crazy-lady-take on the godmother with Mrs. Toquet. Despite her odd ways, her kindness is evident in how she pursues a friendship with Ella and also takes the time to make her dreams come true, though unbeknownst by the girl.
The film incorporates three dream sequences: one of Ella dreaming of living in the palace, a dream-dance in the palace’s kitchen, and the final dream-dance (more like a nightmare, haha) with Ella being separated from Prince Charles by him marrying a princess. My favorite is the kitchen dance sequence which is beautiful and amusing, particularly with Ella dancing on top of the cake. Ballet is just so classical and pretty and adds so much romanticism to the film.
|love this ballet dress!|
The costumes are beautiful, especially her ballet dress in the final dance sequence – pastel colors with a skirt cut in translucent strips. And her ball gown is just fabulous covered with frills and silk roses with that mega-gigantic hoop. She really rivaled Marie Antoinette there, lol.
My favorite moments are two wonderful, though brief, interactions between Prince Charles and Ella. When she forgets her shoes and goes back to her secret garden, she finds Charles there holding her shoes. He immediately takes her hand with an “allow me” and then proceeds to put her old, worn-out shoes on her feet!! This is so freakin’ cute! I mean not only is it a nice foreshadowing of the glass slipper moment, but it’s just darn adorable that the prince is so chivalrous, even with their differing ranks. And the second best part is their first kiss!! So sweet, especially Ella’s wide-eyed surprise and silence that this man is interested in her, the girl the whole village makes fun of. And then she runs away because she’s too stunned to know what to do; well, it’s precious.
The Glass Slipper, though not well-known, remains a sweet, dreamy fairytale retelling and a great old-fashioned classic. If you haven’t watched it, it’s definitely worth a splurge!