Cast: Audrey Hepburn; Rex Harrison; Stanley Holloway; Wilfrid Hyde-White; Gladys Cooper; Jeremy Brett
Director: George Cukor
Synopsis: Rex Harrison, while playing the same character in this film’s Broadway counterpart, is introduced as an arrogant professor in phonetics, Henry Higgins, to Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller, who is being played by Audrey Hepburn. The story begins to unfold in London, Great Britain during the reign of King Edward VII, when Henry Higgins brags about his knowledge of the English language and emphasizes its relevance in determining one’s position in the social hierarchy. Meanwhile, Eliza Doolittle overhears this and later on offers herself to be the professor’s pupil.
Review: Before Hollywood lost George Cukor due to his untimely death in 1983 at the age of 83, the film My Fair Lady has been long considered as a masterpiece. Leading the cast and the crew, garnering eight Oscars in 1964 and three Golden Globes, the musical’s director proved this motion picture as timeless, since it subsequently inspired the production of later works. Cukor approached the film with multiple levels of depth that is, being able to turn to a piece that inspires change — a keen study of feminism. The portrayal of the story is quite slow-paced, which of course does not have any drawbacks because the length is reasonable enough to explain every scene. The restoration is marvelous, as exquisite as the high-class films that the Hollywood deemed necessary to be produced these days.
The Hepburn-Harrison chemistry is favorable, and their very good exchange of conversation exemplifies their nearly superb delivery of the script.
Hepburn’s role as Eliza Doolittle is plausible, because she is able to picture in the mind of the viewers how Eliza “murders the English language” and soon learns to speak it very well. She also shows at the near end how educated she has become, thanks to Professor Higgins, Colonel Pickering and Mrs. Pearce, for teaching her how to act as a lady. Meanwhile, Harrison’s effective landing with the same role as the Broadway counterpart means giving justice to the entire character development, that is, showing the ability to act out as somehow a kind of a real, brutish and misogynistic professor of phonetics.
Though the usual romantic-comedy stories end with a very predictable ending, the case does not obviously apply to My Fair Lady. One of the scenes that the viewers must see is the part when Eliza’s father, Alfred Doolittle, and his friends sang “Get Me to the Church on Time” as it represents a very good musical arrangement. The orchestra’s approach to the “Overture” gave a superb introduction to the film, leaving people having a certain feel of watching a Broadway show. The last song which is recommended to be played repeatedly in your audio devices is “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” because, though Nixon sings this part for Hepburn (who does the lip-sync), the voice is so clear and powerful, and apparently attractive to the ears. In addition, the Edwardian period sort of setting justifies the plot. The clothing choices are indeed appropriate, especially when Eliza Doolittle, Henry Higgins and Colonel Picking attended a ball.
Even though the ending is quite unfavorable for most viewers who aspire a happy and closed one, the film proves itself as legendary and worthy to be watched with your family and friends.