Cast & Crew
Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Paratrooper Gregory Y. Wendell arrives in London in 1944 for a 48-hour leave. While he and his Army buddies rush to catch a cab to a dance hall, Greg bumps into French dancer Gabriel Dupluis, who drops some change. As he picks it up for her and accidentally hands her some of his, Greg is immediately smitten with Gaby and listens as she gives the cab driver directions to the Viceroy Theater. Later that night, Greg goes to the theater, where Gaby gracefully performs as part of the corps de ballet. When Greg meets her backstage, Gaby assumes that he has come for his change. Greg instead tries to entice her into joining him on a date, but Gaby coldly informs him that she has business entertaining forlorn French troops at a French canteen.
After Greg jokes that she can leave the soldiers, Gaby is offended by his insensitivity and goes backstage, where she complains that Americans are boastful, spoiled and over four years delinquent with their help in the war effort. Determined to win her heart, Greg searches all the French canteens until he finds Gaby, who caustically insinuates that he has no sympathy for the French soldiers' trauma. Trying to prove his worth, Greg stands on a table and begins singing a traditional French song in his goofy broken French, thoroughly entertaining all the canteen patrons. Charmed by his efforts, Gaby allows him to walk her home. When an air raid warning sounds, they rush to a shelter, where he admits that as an isolated Nebraskan he has clichéd notions of the French but comes from happily married parents, while Gaby admits that she believed most American couples were divorced. After the all clear signal is given, they go to a posh American "bottle club" where Greg invites Gaby to dance and professes he fell in love with her the first moment he saw her.
Meanwhile, Gaby tells him that her family was killed in Paris during the German invasion. When he escorts her home, Gaby offers to pray for his safety but refuses a second date. The next morning, Gaby tells her roommate and fellow dancer Elsa that she is tired of penny-pinching, being prompt for performances and always distancing herself from anyone involved in the war. Soon after, when Greg shows up unannounced and asks for Gaby's hand in marriage, Gaby jumps at the chance to change her life. Fearing her friend will be hurt, Elsa reminds Greg that as a Catholic, Gaby can never be divorced. Greg tries to reassure Elsa that he is worthy of Gaby, telling her "if we were willing to wait, it wouldn't be worth waiting for."
Later that day, Greg and Gaby go to the marriage license office and discover that the American Army requires a "cooling off period," which includes obtaining approval from a family member and his commanding officer. Greg calls Aunt Helen Carrington, who resides in London, and makes an appointment for her to meet Gaby the next day. That night they return to her apartment to find Elsa has bought them a wedding cake and left the apartment so that they might share their newlywed night alone. As Greg kisses Gaby, she grows nervous about sleeping with him before their marriage is official, prompting Greg to offer to leave to assuage her fears. Later that night, Greg calls Gaby to inform her that his leave has been canceled and he must report to a train station immediately. Gaby rushes to the station just in time to see Greg waving to her from a closed car. After several months of receiving letters from Greg, Gaby learns that D-Day, an all-out Allied offensive, has begun.
Weeks later, Helen invites Gaby to visit her at her upscale London apartment. Believing that she is being interviewed as a prospective new family member, Gaby solemnly vows to make Greg a good wife, prompting Helen to break down in tears. Gaby then realizes that Helen, far from judging her, has actually called to tell her that Greg is dead. Horrified, she leaves for her apartment, where she laments to Elsa that she will never forgive herself for cruelly refusing Greg during their one night together. Weeks later, after Paris is liberated, Gaby sleeps with a traumatized French soldier to comfort him and appease her own grief. Arriving back at her apartment the next morning, Gaby tells Elsa she has lost faith in the virtue she was trained to hold sacred. When weeks later Gaby receives word that Greg is actually alive, she is distraught about her sins.
Ecstatic to see Gaby, Greg explains to her and Helen that after being wounded, he was so delirious that he did not know who he was for several months. When Helen senses Gaby's shame during the reunion, she sends Greg on an errand and suggests to Gaby that her own happiness is in part due to keeping her troubles to herself. Soon after Helen's husband Edgar surprises the couple with a wedding party and tells them he has arranged official permission for them to marry the following day. Gaby is so disturbed by the prospect of keeping her secret from Greg for the rest of their lives, that she goes to her room to pack her things and leave. Finding her there, Greg begs to know the truth and assumes Gaby has fallen in love with someone else. Gaby finally tells him that she has slept with many other men after learning he was dead.
Shocked by the news, Greg is unable to speak, causing Gaby to flee from the house into the dark, war-torn London streets. Hobbling after her on his injured leg, Greg finds Gaby just as bombs begin to fall again. After a building explodes just above Gaby, Greg rushes to her aid and tells her that they cannot blame each other for what the war has done to them. As they embrace and kiss, a nearby constable lightly cautions them to stop, stating, "there's a war on, you know."
Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Joe Di Reda
Norman Du Pont
Lillian Kemble Cooper
William M. Griffith
Daniel B. Cathcart
A. Arnold Gillespie
Charles K. Hagedon
Edwin H. Knopf
John Mcsweeney Jr.
Dr. Wesley C. Miller
Jack D. Moore
Samuel Francis Smith
Edwin B. Willis
Gaby was based on the hit 1930 play Waterloo Bridge by Robert E. Sherwood and was the third film version of the story. Universal Pictures had made the first version called Waterloo Bridge in 1931 starring Mae Clarke. Produced in the Pre-Code era, the film was much more frank and realistic in its handling of sexual matters than any subsequent interpretation. MGM released the second version in 1940 (also called Waterloo Bridge) starring Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor. The screenplay for Gaby, written by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich and Charles Lederer, was based heavily on the screenplay to MGM's 1940 film, written by S.N. Behrman, Paul H. Rameau and George Froeschel. Behrman, Rameau and Froeschel all received screen credit on Gaby. While the previous versions of Waterloo Bridge took place during World War I, Gaby updated its story to World War II and changed the ending. The film was also decidedly less grim and downbeat than the two previous versions.
Gaby was intended as a vehicle for lovely Leslie Caron, who had begun her film career auspiciously, co-starring opposite Gene Kelly in An American in Paris (1951). As a classically trained dancer, Caron was naturally associated with the musicals in which she had become popular. However, Gaby was a straight dramatic role for her without musical numbers. Even though Caron plays a ballerina, dancing takes a secondary role to the complex emotions that her character must portray. Gaby gave Caron an opportunity to showcase her versatility as an actress.
Producer: Edwin H. Knopf
Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Screenplay: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Charles Lederer; S.N. Behrman (earlier screenplay), Paul H. Rameau, George Froeschel (earlier screenplay); Robert E. Sherwood (play "Waterloo Bridge")
Cinematography: Robert Planck
Art Direction: Daniel B. Cathcart, Cedric Gibbons
Music: Conrad Salinger
Film Editing: John McSweeney, Jr.
Cast: Leslie Caron (Gaby), John Kerr (Gregory Y. Wendell), Sir Cedric Hardwicke (Mr. Edgar Carrington), Taina Elg (Elsa), Margalo Gillmore (Mrs. Helen Carrington), Scott Marlowe (Jan), Ian Wolfe (Registrar), Joe Di Reda (Allen), Joseph Corey (Pete), James Best (Jim), Lisa Montell (Claire), Ruta Lee (Denise), Narda Onyx (Olga), Gloria Wood (Singer at the Bottle Club).
C-97m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.
by Andrea Passafiume
According to a January 19, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, Liliane Montevecchi was considered for the second female lead. An September 8, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Kitty White was considered for the "Bottle club" singer role. September 1955 Hollywood Reporter news items also add the following persons to the cast, although their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed: Jennifer Raine, Mary Finley and Anna Cheselka.
Robert E. Sherwood's play Waterloo Bridge was used as the basis for two earlier films, both entitled Waterloo Bridge. The 1931 Universal production was directed by James Whale and starred Mae Clark and Kent Douglas. The 1940 M-G-M production was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starred Vivian Leigh and Robert Taylor (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 for both entries). Gaby's screenplay was based on the screenplay for the 1940 picture, written by S. N. Behrman, Paul H. Rameau and George Froeschel, who received the onscreen credit "Based on a screenplay by" for Gaby. Although the earlier films were also set in London, the action took place during World War I. In the 1931 film, the female lead is killed in an air raid, while in the 1940 version, she commits suicide by jumping off Waterloo Bridge, out of shame that she had become a prostitute and fear that she would ruin the male lead's life.