“Tut tut tut tut” Gillian Hills

Many thanks to Jessica Polito for her contribution to Alors, on dance! with “Tut tut tut tut” by Gillian Hills. As Jessica points out, this song has made a comeback with the 2020 series The Queen’s Gambit. [Note: “Tut tut tut tut” is the French version of “Busy Signal” by the U.S. group The Lollipops.]

Born in Egypt, English actress and singer Gillian Hills became known for her role in Blowup (1966) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (one of my favorite Italian filmmakers). As a young actress, by the time she was 16, she had embarked on an acting and singing career in France, and was featured in an important role in Edmond T. Gréville’s Beat Girl (a 1960 film marketed in the U.S. as Wild for Kicks).

Related to our FREN 305 class, in sharing this song by Gillian Hills, Jessica reminded me of the most controversial film adaptation (or reinterpretation) of Laclos’ novel Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782)—the eponymous 1959 film was directed by Roger Vadim and starred my favorite French actress, Jeanne Moreau. The film’s soundtrack is exceptional, with music by (more of my favorites) jazz greats Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey among others. [Now, I regret not adding this one to our course list, even though Caryn James (The New York Times) underlined its “superficial silliness” (I don’t agree!)] Also related to our class discussions about women’s roles in French film, note that Gillian Hills was meant to play a lead role in Vadim’s film, but she was only 14, so she was cast in a minor role. Instead, they chose Jeanne Valérie (a whopping 18 years old) as Cécile Volanges… Needless to say, scandal and censorship surrounded Vadim’s 1959 Les Liaisons dangereuses.

For more on adaptations of Les Liaisons dangereuses, see https://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/26/movies/four-liaisons-but-only-one-is-dangereuse.html

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