Promotional Line: "The most
loverly motion picture event of all! A feast for the eyes and
ears, "My Fair Lady" delivers a breathtaking entertainment experience
for the whole family."
"It is one of the most beloved
movie musicals of all time."
Henry Higgins: "What could
possibly matter more? Taking a human being and changing her into
another human being by creating a new speech for her. It fills
up the deepest gap that separates class from class, and soul from
soul. She matters immensely."
This fine musical begins, by
showing the audience a London scene from a Victorian England in
the 1800's, a meeting place of the very rich and the very poor.
The well-to-do of English society were coming out of a theatre
where poor women, known as flower girls were selling bouquets
of flowers to these theatre patrons. Among these patrons were
two distinguished gentleman, a well-known, top notch Professor
of Phonetics, Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison), and his good friend,
Colonel Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White).
Fascinated with the cockney
language spoken by one young flower girl, Eliza Dolittle (Audrey
Hepburn), he stops behind a pillar and writes down her language
pattern, which upsets her when she finds out. He talks to Pickering,
claiming that if this young woman could be taught proper English,
she could get a job in a dress shop. The next day, Eliza goes
to the professor's house and wants him to teach her to speak.
And so the tortuous battle of the vowels begins, with the goal
being a transformation of a poor flower girl into a proper lady,
that can be taken to an Ambassador's ball without being found
After several entertaining
song sequences later, Eliza and Professor Higgins have conquered
Eliza's pronunciation problems, and celebrate with a dance to
"The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain" song sequence. Eliza
is then tutored on how a lady speaks, moves and handles social
situations. To try out her new self, Professor Higgins takes her
to the Ascot Races, to mingle with the elite and upper class friends
of his mother, Mrs. Higgins (Gladys Cooper), from whom he has
elicited co-operation in this matter. Eliza's rough spots come
out once or twice, much to the amusement of the film's audience.
A young gentleman, Freddie Eynsford-Hill (Jeremy Brett) falls
head over heels in love with her, but Eliza finds herself falling
in love with someone else.
However, after some more fine
tuning, Eliza is ready for The Ambassador's Ball, hosted by the
Queen of Transylvania. Everything goes extremely well. However,
a potential fly in the ointment is the presence of Zoltan Karpathy
(Theodore Bikel), a former Hungarian student of Professor Higgins,
who has learned his craft so well that the well-to-do hire him
to sniff out impostors trying to pass themselves off as members
of the elite class. Uh oh! Will Eliza be found out? It is a good
thing that Professor Higgins was such a demanding teacher. Because
Eliza's English was so perfect, Zoltan comes to the conclusion
that Eliza is really a Hungarian Duchess in disguise!
However, Eliza's amazing transformation
isn't the only major change. On a personal level, Eliza and Professor
Higgins have developed strong feelings toward each other. Professor
Higgins, a self-avowed bachelor, refuses to acknowledge his feelings
for Eliza. What is Eliza going to do? After going back to her
old neighborhood, she discovers that she is a permanently changed
person, and can't go back. "I sold flowers; I didn't sell myself.
Now you've made a lady of me, I'm not fit to sell anything else."
Will she marry Freddie, or will she wait for Professor Higgins
to come to his senses?
This film is a classic because
of the combination of many elements that all came together under
the marvelous direction of George Cukor, and Jack Warner, who
produced this masterpiece, firmly believing in high production
values. The feeling of the film felt like one was watching a stage
play on Broadway, with top notch sets, great choreography, wonderful
costumes, a superb cast and a well -paced and directed musical
The cinematography, by Harry
Stradling Sr., is well-done, capturing the fun of the musical
numbers, the touching moments, and the majesty of the grand ball
scenes. Stradling also did the cinemaphotography for "Funny
Girl", "Hello Dolly", "On A Clear Day, You Can
See Forever," and "Guys and Dolls."
The magic of the musical numbers
have held up well and are wonderfully entertaining. The songs
are unforgettable, enhancing the moments on the screen, as the
songs are brilliantly written around the storyline. The combination
of Frederick Loewe's music and Alan Jay Lerner's lyrics make these
songs all time favorites of musical -loving fans. This award-winning
music writing team also collaborated to create the musical songs
for such films as Brigadoon, Gigi, and Camelot.
There are many favorite, well
-directed, well choreographed musical sequences, including The
Ascot Race musical numbers, Jeremy Brett (dubbed with Bill Shirley's
voice) singing "On the Street Where You Live," Stanley Holloway's
"Just a Little Bit of Luck," and his "Get Me to the Church on
Time." More favorite sequences are listed below.
The cast was full of both outstanding
character actors and talented lead performers, who all came together
to create a marvelously entertaining, romantic enjoyable musical
Rex Harrison made the role
of Professor Henry Higgins his own creation which he is still
well known for. His musical numbers were done in a unique style
of talking prose with background music, with a little singing
around the edges. Song: "Why Can't a Woman be more like a
Man?" "Women are irrational, that's all there is to that!
Their heads are full of cotton, hay, and rags. They're nothing
but exasperating, irritating, vacillating, calculating, agitating,
maddening and infuriating hags!"
Audrey Hepburn - is most convincing
as an unsophisticated, uneducated flower girl, who slowly transforms
into a lady of society, because of her own determination and her
expert hard-driving teacher, Professor Higgins. Though her songs
were dubbed by Marni Nixon, she did a superb job singing/acting
her part. I enjoyed her "Wouldn't it Be Loverly?" and "Just you
Wait Henry Higgins."
Wilfrid Hyde -White excels
in his performance as Colonel Pickering, a role that he is best
known for, doing what he does best; being a talented supporting
Stanley Holloway, a talented
actor who was at home in comedy or drama, who played everything
from a detective in the murder mystery, "Ten Little Indians,"
to a Butler on a popular English TV show, gave an outstanding
performance as Alfred P Doolittle. It was obvious that he was
having a lot of fun during his musical numbers, and his portrayal
of Eliza's father was delightful. Like Eliza, his life is changed
forever because of Professor Higgins, who refers his name to a
well-known modern moralist in the United States, who contacts
him for input, paying him for his thoughts. When the man dies,
he leaves his entire fortune to Alfred, further thrusting him
into the respectable middle class and permanently out of his care-free
state as a freeloader.
Original Music / musical score by: Frederick Loewe,
words to music: by Alan Jay Lerner.
The wonderful family film is