There is a certain feeling of good intention with the movie project even if the ultimate result is not very good
Gleason plays the non-speaking title character. He is the town fool in this sort of Hollywood version of an in-the-past French town. Gigot perhaps is somewhat related to Gleason's recurring TV sketch character The Poor Soul who was also silent.
I say a feeling of good intention because I think that both Gene Kelly, born in 1912, and Gleason, born in 1916, must've been pretty impressed early on as children watching the Golden Age of silent film the late 1920's and were, with Gigot, trying to recreate the magical special nature of pantomime cinema. The problem is that the movie doesn't work.
Why? First of all I think they chickened out. This is not a silent movie. Only Gigot is silent and since he doesn't speak while everyone else does he come of as a disabled man. This is a problem in scenes of teasing and abuse from the speaking townies. Yes, this establishes some pathos, but it just seems too cruel when they trick him into getting drunk for their amusement. The scenes are only cruel, the comedy in the practically undetectable. Gigot just isn't funny. Attempts at solo silent bits just fall flat. It is as if neither director nor star can come up with a few minutes of something funny to do. Ok, so he's not funny. So maybe the movie isn't supposed to be funny. That is fine, but if that is so at least we need something to engage our viewing interest. To that end, I suppose, they have added a sort of love story. Gigot loves a woman with a daughter around 8 or 10 years old. So he loves the girl too. Like he gets a Chaplin-like remote love object as well as a child, like Coogan's The Kid. But the acting girl in this is not Jackie Coogan and the woman gives no indication of and interest in Gigot and actually is very nasty to him. So that doesn't work either.
Gleason was pretty hot as an actor right then, or about to be. And I big TV star. The movie was shot between The Hustler and Requiem for a Heavyweight. It could have just been that he was way too busy to put a lot of thought or effort into the movie. And the studio might have forced the talking characters on them, refused to finance a totally silent movie.
With all the teasing, very remote love object, and his appearance, Gigot is really a sort of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
There are chase scenes toward the end. The movie is just not good. Bland.
Full of charm & the strong filmmaking talent of Gene Kelly this film soars. This is such a likeable film that just simply makes you smile.
Gigot is such an interesting character to watch on screen & his interaction with everyone in his French Town is so innocent & interesting.
A great unknown movie. Try it and you will like it.
Jackie Gleason plays a deaf mute,who befriends the neglected little daughter of a french prostitute.What an incredible role for Gleason to show his talent for acting-facial expressiveness and body language alone-stellar.