A legendary exquisite musical... (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
Audrey Hepburn is radiant and touching as the poor flower seller Eliza Doolittle who challenges her mentor's makeover powers, before eventually passing for a lady in London society... She is skillfully transformed into an elegant lady by a speech professor Henry Higgins Rex Harrison and taught to speak properly... From first frame to last, the film is slick, graceful, gorgeous to behold, with costumes and sets richly evoking the Edwardian era...'My Fair Lady' begins in London, on a rainy evening outside Covent Garden, where a 'respectable girl' is selling bouquets of <more>
violets... Professor Henry Higgins, a phonetics and linguistics expert, confronts the 'deliciously low so horribly dirty' Eliza Doolittle for the first time...In the best tradition, their first songs reveal their characters: 'Wouldn't It Be Loverly?' expresses Eliza's own ideas of what she dreams, while in 'Why Can't the English Learn to Speak' Higgins sings his despair over the deterioration of the English language, and displays his hard, irritable, intolerant, and elegantly arrogant nature...Lerner and Loewe's songs are shear delight as the story moves from Higgins's wager with sympathetic Colonel Pickering Wilfrid Hyde-White that he can change the street girl with a strong cockney accent into a different human being by teaching her 'to speak beautifully' and pass her off in an upper class lady within six months... Higgins and Pickering are both single men, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Pearce, has misgivings about the way in which they are proposing to amuse themselves without caring about the consequences for the "common ignorant girl."The songs are extraordinary in their ability to enrich our knowledge of the characters... Higgins' early song 'I'm an Ordinary Man' confirms that he is a 'quiet living man' without the need for a woman... Alfred Doolittle's 'With a Little Bit of Luck ' not only states his general philosophy of life, but exposes the perfect portrait of a friendly scoundrel... Eliza's father, who calls himself one of "the undeserving poor" is one of Shaw's best comedy creations... When he arrives to protest at the immorality of Higgins and Pickering treatment of his daughter, it soon becomes clear that he just wants to gain something for himself out of the situation... Eliza, becoming subject to Higgins' intimidation, belts out her discomfort at the rude, selfish Higgins, imagining a king ordering his death, in "Just You Wait, 'Enry 'Iggins."The music is also a logical extension of the characters' feelings... When Eliza finally pronounces impeccably: 'The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain,' Higgins can hardly believe what he has heard: 'By George, she's got it. Now once again, where does it rain?' , and Eliza 'On the plain! On the plain!' and Higgins simply cannot be contained 'And where's that soggy plain? ' Eliza responding: In Spain! In Spain! They sing a duet together to celebrate their success... The scene leads to one of the most triumphant sequences in musical history...Further, the stunning scene in which Eliza Doolittle appears in high society when she meets Higgins's mother the impeccable Gladys Cooper , and attends the Ascot races... She instantly charms a young admirer Jeremy Brett Freddy by her slightly odd manner of speaking, who later haunts Higgins' house "On the Street Where you Live" .The climax comes at the Embassy Ball, where Higgins' protégé, now "an enchanting young lady" charms everyone with her beauty... Her exercise is an unqualified success... Her waltz with the Queen's son, and other dance partners, spreads throughout the audience about her identity...Henry and Pickering are ecstatic... They congratulate each other for their "glorious victory," 'You Did It' , but Eliza is hurt and angry at being ignored... They barely acknowledge her presence... She is no longer a part of any world... When Higgins returns for his slippers, which he has forgotten, Eliza flings them angrily at him, and voices her feelings: 'Oh, what's to become of me? What am I fit for?'In an attempt to find her true identity a frustrated Eliza encounters Freddy who declares his love for her, but she returns to the populated flower market outside Covent Garden, where no one recognizes her... Her own 'miserable' father - tuxedo-dressed - gives her the cheerful news that he is about to get married...In the closing scenes, Higgins is upset to discover Liza has left him and is led to wonder why 'can't a woman be more like a man? Men are so honest, so thoroughly square.' Eliza surprises Higgings with her decision to marry Freddie, and claims: 'I shall not feel alone without you. I can stand on my own without you. I can do bloody well 'Without you!'At his home, at dusk, Higgins ultimately recognizes Liza's quality... He recalls Liza and realizes how much she has come to mean to him... Without her, he is lost and lonely... The climax is a great ending to a great musical...'My Fair Lady' has great style and beauty... The film describes what is common in many societies... That accent determines the superficiality of class distinctions... The motion picture is humorous, notably the wonderfully steamy bath in which Prof. Higgens' female staff cleanses the accumulated dirt of the street off Eliza Doolittle...With the dazzling splendor that director George Cukor offers: the designer's eye for detail, the painter's flair for color, the artist's imagination, and the delicacy of handling, the film garnered no less than twelve Oscar nominations, and took home eight statuettes including Best Picture of the year, Best Actor- Harrison, Best Director- Cukor, as well as Best Art Decoration, Sound, Scoring, Costume Design, and color Cinematography...
A musical with a brain as well as a heart (by eliza-doolittle)
There's a lot of negative things been said about Audrey Hepburn's interpretation of the role of Eliza. Perhaps she's not ideal in the earliest scenes of the movie - her "dirtiness" is never quite believable - but it has to be said that despite this smallish drawback she still glows, and makes an amazing Eliza overall.The reason for this is simple; Audrey Hepburn brings her "own spark of divine fire", to quote Higgins to the role and her vulnerability, mixed with her sweet, naive charm and even her wonderfully juvenile pettishness shown in "Just You <more>
Wait" all prove what a talented actress she really is. For an example of this, just watch Eliza's facial expression at Ascot, when she realises her opportunity to demonstrate her new-found mastery of the English tongue - sweetly hilarious.MFL has been criticized as being too romanticized, too overblown. I disagree; musicals are suposed to be lavish affairs, and none pull it off quite so well as "My Fair Lady" does. It's a momentous film but it has its subtle points: watch the way in which Eliza's eyes are centred on Higgins when she enters at the ball, and the way in which the two of them stare at each other for a few seconds at the top of the stairs a few moments later. It musn't be overlooked that, thanks to its being based on a Bernard Shaw play, "My Fair Lady" has what the great majority of musicals lack: a deeper meaning and something really quite profound to say.The actor in the role of Colonel Pickering is a little weak, but it must be said that Rex Harrison IS Henry Higgins. In a lot of ways in fact, in most ways Higgins has an objectionable personality: rude, snobbish, impatient and even misogynistic, but somehow Rex Harrison pulls it all off and makes us like Higgins without betraying the character. As to romance, his song "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" is an ode to the kind of love which sneaks up on you. Overall, this movie is romantic, but not too sentimental. It has just enough romance to be dramatically fulfilling, but it never becomes soppy or mawkish. The word "love" is never mentioned at all and the two leads never even kiss. The famous end sequence is perfect and does the movie justice; after all, a big happy bow tied around a perfect romance at the end would simply not fit with everything we have learned about the two protagonists.
MFL will always be one of my favorite movies.. (by lauriebeth)
I first saw this film when I was eight years old, after receiving it as a first communion present from my mother. For months I watched the movie on an almost daily basis, and it was quickly a favorite. I thought it was absolute perfection.Now that I am a bit older.. I notice that is does have quite a few flaws. It doesn't really capture the essence of Shaw's Pygmalion, but I don't think that should really take away from the movie; they should be treated as separate entities. Some of the sets are a little, well, cramped, but consider what they had to work with, they did a pretty <more>
good job. And then there is the dubbing issue. I recently special on MFL on AMC, and they showed "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" and "Show Me" with Audrey's voice, and though Audrey may not have the perfect melodic voice of Marni Nixon, her voice was much more "Eliza". I really do think they should have just used her voice. If you watch "Funny Face", you get a good feel for voice, which I think is beautiful in a unconventional way. Then, there is the question of whether Julie Andrews should have played Eliza in the film version of MFL. I've gone back and forth on this issue. Now, Audrey Hepburn is my favorite actress of all time, and Julie Andrews is a close runner-up, so it really is hard to "choose". Of course Julie's voice is much better than even Marni Nixon's... but like I said before, I don't think a perfect singing voice really would suit Eliza. And as for which would play a better Eliza overall.. I really don't know. I wasn't alive to see MFL on Broadway, so I really can't compare the two. What I do know is that Audrey gave an amazing performance. Anyway, as someone else said, if Julie had played Eliza, who would have played Mary Poppins? ;
Wonderful, but I missed Julie Andrews (by DeeNine-2)
I thought the music was wonderful. I thought Audrey Hepburn was just adorable and so full of energy and grace and just fascinating to watch. Rex Harrison was an absolutely perfect Professor Higgins and never wavered or changed character. My problem a minor one is with the ending and with the dubbing.The story is brilliant of course, taken from George Bernard Shaw's acclaimed play Pygmalion, although materially altered to fit the requirements of a musical comedy. The contrast of the unschooled street urchin Liza Doolittle and the stuffy, self-possessed confirmed bachelor, a kind of <more>
nineteenth century British man of science, wonderfully accomplished in his profession, but blind to himself when it comes to relationships with other people, made for a most interesting match. And the delusive dream of a man forming his own perfect woman which is the basis of the Pygmalion legend works so very well with a conceited linguist tutoring a cockney girl. The entire concept is a work of genius with the drunken father and the objectifying Col. Pickering and the very right Mrs. Pierce.But there are some problems. Freddy is needed of course as another "objectifying" character to make it clear just how desirable Eliza really is and how foolish and blind Professor Higgins is in not seeing this--in theory, of course, because in practice with Audrey Hepburn or Julie Andrews as Eliza, this would seem entirely unnecessary. And indeed without Freddy we do not have the beautiful "On the Street Where You Live." But even with him Prof. Higgins does not see, and indeed even at the resolution of the story, he still does not see, as he asks for his slippers. If this were presented to current London and Broadway audiences it would never play the way it was written. Professor Higgins would need to see the light and he would have to get his own slippers!The dubbing and the need for it is curious. There is no doubt that Marni Nixon, who did the singing, has a beautiful and commanding voice, and we are the better for having heard her, but why is the dubbing so obvious? It's almost as if Miss Hepburn is saying to the audience: they said it would be better if Miss Nixon sings instead of me because her voice is stronger and so very well trained. And so Hepburn does not completely lip-sync some of the opening words of songs as though to remind us that she is not singing. And the contrast between her delicate voice and then the sudden power of Marni Nixon's is obvious. Beyond this is the question of why Julie Andrews, who has a voice to match that of Miss Nixon, and charisma and charm at least in the same ballpark as Miss Hepburn, wasn't asked to play the part that she knew so very well from her experience on the stage. Still, as another reviewer has so acutely noted, if she had been asked, we would have missed her in Mary Poppins, which was made the same year. I should also note that Hepburn was 33 or 34 years old when this was made although she looked almost ten years younger . Nonetheless she was playing the part of "a good girl, I am," whom Pickering identifies in his call to Scotland Yard as being 21 years old.Curious. But all is forgiven because Audrey Hepburn is just so beautiful, so elegant and so delightful in the part. I especially loved her in the opening scene in her soiled clothes and hat and her sour voice. By the way, I have heard Julie Andrews sing the part, although I never saw her on the stage, and the way she "meow's" Eliza's accent, like a cat's claw on a chalk board, is really amazing. Get the CD. This is one of the best movie musicals ever made, a sheer delight highlighted not only by Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, but by Stanley Holloway as the Liza's lovable rascal father and Wilfrid Hyde-White as the very understanding and very properly British Col. Pickering with opulent direction by the great George Cukor. The sets and production numbers are gorgeous. But see it for Audrey Hepburn, one of the great stars of the silver screen in one of her most memorable roles. Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!
Perhaps My Favourite Musical of the Sixties (by JamesHitchcock)
Shaw's Pygmalion was written in support of its author's controversial thesis that class divisions in British society could be overcome by encouraging the use of Received Pronunciation supported by reformed spelling in a phonetic alphabet in place of regional and class accents. The story concerns a professor of phonology who accepts a bet that he can teach a Cockney flower-seller to speak like a duchess. This makes it a curious basis for a Broadway musical, given that most Americans have little interest in the linguistic aspects of the British class system and little ability to <more>
distinguish British accents. It is therefore hardly surprising that Audrey Hepburn does not sound much like a native of Lisson Grove a predominantly working-class district of North-WestLondon with an accent slightly different to the better-known East End Cockney . She was clearly under instructions to exaggerate her accent to such an extent that even an American audience could not fail to appreciate the contrast with the accents of the posh characters.Despite its unlikely subject-matter,My Fair Lady was a great success, both as a stage musical and as a film. There are a number of reasons for this. Shaw was able to create witty dialogue and interesting characters, even when he was writing a didactic piece which most of his plays are . The songs are unfailingly tuneful. In my opinion, however, the main reason for the success of the film version is due to one factor; the casting of Audrey Hepburn. Although Hepburn held British citizenship she was, on her mother's side, a member of the Dutch aristocracy, and had spent much of her youth abroad, so she might not have seemed the most likely choice as a London flower-girl. She was also in her mid thirties, considerably older than the character she plays . At the time, many felt that the role should have gone to Julie Andrews, who had played the part in the stage version. Hepburn was, however, the most beautiful, elegant and charismatic actress of her generation, with an uncanny ability to make a film by her presence alone. Try imagining Breakfast at Tiffany's or Roman Holiday with any other actress in the lead. Or Sabrina. Actually, someone obviously did try imagining Sabrina with another actress,which is why we ended up with that embarrassing Julia Ormond remake .My Fair Lady is another example of Audrey's gift at work. Although to British ears she might not seem entirely convincing as a Cockney in the earlier scenes, she dominates the latter part of the film when Eliza has been transformed into a gracious society lady.I have never heard the versions of the songs that Audrey recorded herself, so I cannot say whether the decision to have her singing dubbed was the right one. Certainly, Marni Nixon does a fine job, although, on the evidence of Funny Face and Breakfast at Tiffanys, Hepburn had a better voice than popular belief has given her credit for. Of the other characters I particularly liked Stanley Holloway’s comic turn as Alfred Dolittle, Elizas old reprobate of a father. In an inversion of the normal generation gap, the teetotal, virginal Eliza is far more puritanical than her father . Rex Harrison makes an amusing Professor Higgins, even though he was obviously no singer and was rather older than I had imagined Shaws character.When I first saw the film, I disliked the decision to change Shaw’s ending, which I saw as a surrender to Hollywood sentimentality. Having seen it again, I am inclined to change my mind. A romance, of sorts, between Eliza and Higgins is by no means inconceivable. Higgins may be a sexist and a snob, but he is certainly not gay, as some have speculated. Why Cant a Woman be More Like a Man is quite a common sentiment among male heterosexuals. Higgins reminded me of those representatives of modern British lad culture who choose potential wives and girlfriends on the basis of male rather than female attributes. A woman is valued less for her personality or sex appeal than for her interest in such matters as alcohol and sport. It is the same with Higgins, except that he will expect Eliza to be able to discuss not lager and the offside rule but labiodental fricatives and the First Great Sound Shift. Eliza might be a beauty, but far more important to Higgins is the fact that she is the first woman he has ever met who shares his interest in linguistics. If Eliza can adapt to Higgins expectations there is no indication that he will ever adapt to hers , there is no reason why their union should not be a happy one.This is also a very attractive film visually, especially the two famous showpiece scenes at Royal Ascot and the Embassy Ball. The former is particularly striking, with the black and white costumes creating a remarkable stylised look. Cecil Beaton well deserved his Oscar; seldom can costume design have contributed so much to the success of a film. On the subject of Oscars, the great scandal, of course, is that Audrey was not even nominated; perhaps the Academy felt embarrassed by the number of leading ladies in musicals who did not do their own singing. I felt that Harrison was a rather fortunate winner against some very strong opposition, but the Best Picture award was well deserved. This is perhaps my favourite musical of the sixties. 9/10
I think people are being rather churlish about Audrey because they still resent Julie not getting the part. But this was around 40 years ago so can we forgive and forget? Particularly since Julie, in an obvious sympathy vote got the Academy Award that year for Mary Poppins and Audrey wasn't even nominated. Yes, Audrey was dubbed and Marni Nixon the dubber on the DVD speaks at great lengths about how it was done. Also included on the DVD are Audrey's actual vocals of "Loverly" and "Show Me". While she wasn't bad in the first, the second was somewhat beyond <more>
her vocal ability.In fact, it seems that Audrey might have originated the role on Broadway were it not for a false rumor that she was pregnant at the time. Incidentally, John Gielgud remarked, in one of his letters, that he thought Audrey was better than Julie!I thought the film was excellent, dubbing or not, and the casting was also excellent. I had two small reservations about the film: The first was the fantasy scene where Audrey-Marni sang "Just you wite, 'enry 'iggins" which Cukor hated and with good reason. It should have been done without the oil on the lens and probably without the "enactment". The other was the race at Ascot where the horses were shown briefly twice and perhaps the turning binoculars would have been sufficient and funnier as on the stage.But I suppose they didn't want to appear "cheap".The ending was, I think, pretty close to the film of Pygmalion and the musical was based on the film and not the play in which I think Eliza marries Freddie. I do think there's a certain amount of ambiguity in this ending and I don't think Shaw's estate would have allowed much else. G.B.S. himself would not have accepted Eliza marrying Henry and he said as much.According to the DVD, Cecil Beaton, who did actually design the stage sets, did virtually nothing on the movie except take the credit and a terrific still of Audrey in costume according to the commentary. In effect, the DVD plays the film over while 4 people Gene Allen the art director of the original film and Cukor's assistant, the restorers Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz and the aforementioned Miss Nixon. comment on each scene and I think that's overkill but one doesn't have to watch it. As for me, I could have done with less on the restoration but enjoyed the comments on the actual shooting of the movie especially on Audrey, Rex and the various other players and extras.9 for the film and DVD.
The character of Henry Higgins is greatly misunderstood by many and so is the film. (by llltdesq)
I have read in a great many places including the IMDb that Henry Higgins is a misogynist. It has also been said that the film is a misogynist's fairy tale. Anyone saying this has clearly not watched this film too closely. First, Higgins is not a misogynist. A misogynist hates women. What Higgins is, in reality, is a misanthrope. A misanthrope basically dislikes and distrusts everyone! Watch the film and you'll notice that Higgins treats everyone with the same disregard-Col. Pickering, Eliza's father, his own mother-everyone receives his rather cynical disdain. Some of the minor <more>
characters come off being treated worse than the principals do. It's simply more noticeable with Eliza because it's more frequent, it's newer with Eliza because the other principal characters have known Higgins longer and thus take it in stride. The myth that Higgins is a misogynist is perpetuated by the song, "Why Can't A Woman Be More Like a Man?".Second, it can hardly be called a misogynist's fairy tale. If that were the case, I doubt Alfred Doolittle would have cause to sing, "Get Me To the Church On Time", as he'd hardly be getting married. His life is just as "ruined" as Eliza's by his encounters with Higgins, just as altered as her life has been.This is a great musical, a good movie and it was even better as the original play by Shaw. Well worth seeing. Recommended.
During the first two hours of this movie, I had thought that it was the greatest musical ever brought to film. It's only during the last hour that it begins to languish and plod. If the first two hours are a solid 10/10, then the last hour is about a 4/10. It brings the average to about 8/10, which is exactly what I gave the movie, but it's fun to think about how great the movie could have been had the producers decided to find a better ending to an otherwise superb story.It goes to show that film is a tricky medium, and regardless of how great musicals can be, live action simply <more>
isn't as interesting when it's recorded. 'My Fair Lady' could have used a bit of trimming, especially in Stanley Holloway's pieces, WITH A BIT OF LUCK and GET ME TO THE CHURCH ON TIME. Although they may have been spectacular to see on stage, movie audiences will yearn to see more about Eliza and wonder why the director spends so much time on her father.On the brighter side, I believe that I have never seen Audrey Hepburn in a more perfect role. Eliza Doolittle is a lot like she, in their rise from poverty. And watching Audrey is like being invited to see a person shine in their most perfect niche. She isn't gorgeous in a modern sense, but even a decade after her death, her image still carries that immortal appeal. Some critics call it the "it" factor. We don't know what "it" is but we know it's there.Billy Wilder once said, "God kissed her face, and there she was." For me, I just like her smile, and my smile when I watch her exuberance in one of the defining roles in her career.
There have been numerous recordings of this musical from the days of Julie Andrews through Kiri te Kanawa and many others. But Marni Nixon's singing in the film is superb. Audrey Hepburn looks the part. Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway leave their defining performances of Higgins and Doolittle for us to enjoy, the supporting cast are fine - Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Brett, Mona Washbourne, Theodore Bikel and the incomparable Wilfred Hyde-White. Cecil Beaton's designs bring the screen to life and in the newly restored version it looks 'loverly'. One of the best musicals ever, <more>
certainly along with West Side Story and Oliver! the cream of the 1960s.