Delphine (Catherine Deneuve) and Solange Garnier (Francoise Dorleac) are twin sisters from Rochefort. Each of them has a creative passion; Delphine wants to be a dancer and Solange wants to be a music composer, but both of them teach classes to pay their bills. When they get fed up with teaching, they decide to head for Paris, where they are sure they will find happiness. But Delphine and Solange aren’t the only ones in town longing for something. Their mother Yvonne (Danielle Darrieux) runs a snack bar and spends her days yearning for her ex-fiance Simon Dame. She loved him, but thought his last name was ridiculous, so she had left him ten years earlier. While working at her snack bar, she meets Maxence, a young sailor on leave from the Navy desperately seeking the girl of his dreams. Maxence knows exactly how his dream girl is supposed to look, he’s just trying to find her. He paints a picture of this mystery girl and hangs it in a gallery owned by Guillaume, Delphine’s boyfriend. When Delphine drops by the gallery, she sees the painting and realizes it looks exactly like her, and goes on a quest to find the person who painted the picture. Yvonne knows Maxence, but she never saw the painting of his dream girl.
Meanwhile, Solange stops by a music store to pick up some new paper and meets Simon Dame. He tells her how he came to town to look for a woman who left him ten years ago because of his name, but he never met Yvonne’s twins, so Solange doesn’t know that the woman he’s looking for is her mother. As they get to talking, he agrees to write a letter to a composer friend of his in Paris, Andy Miller (Gene Kelly) so he’d be willing to meet with her. But little does Solange know that Andy Miller is already in town and she even literally bumps into him in the street. When they meet, she drops the music she’s been working on and she accidentally leaves part of it behind, which Andy picks up. He’s fascinated by the song and wants to meet the girl who wrote it again.
But to complicate things more, a carnival is in town for the weekend and the girls meet Etienne and Bill, who work for the carnival. When two dancers with the carnival run off to be with some sailors at the last minute, Etienne and Bill recruit Solange and Delphine to perform in the show in their place. They agree and are a great success, but still want to leave for Paris. Come Monday, they’re all set to go, but then all the missed connections finally start to come together. Solange and Andy meet up again, Yvonne and Mr. Dame are finally reunited, and even though Delphine hitches a ride with the Etienne and Bill to Paris, little does she know that her mystery admirer Maxence also catches a ride out of town with the carnival.
The Young Girls of Rochefort was a rather interesting movie. It was kind of like On The Town meets Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with just a hint of Casablanca thrown in. Only instead of everybody coming to Rick’s, everybody, except for Simon Dame, comes to Yvonne’s snack bar. I was mostly intrigued by this movie because it had both Gene Kelly and Catherine Deneuve in it. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, but what I got was a bright, colorful, exuberant, musical. It was a lot of fun, but could have stood to be a little bit shorter. I have to say, I’m really glad that Jacques Demy didn’t go with his original choice of Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot as the two sisters. I like Audrey and I like Brigitte, but that would have been the least believable casting of sisters of all time. Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac, on the other hand, actually were sisters, so Demy made a far better choice. But if you’re not into movies that are pretty cheesy and full of random people dancing in the streets, I’d recommend skipping this one because I can easily see how this would grate on your nerves.