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Pygmalion (1937)

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Prof. Henry Higgens takes a wager on turning a low class flower seller named Liesje Doeluttel into a presentably lady.



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Title: Pygmalion (1937)

Pygmalion (1937) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast overview:
Lily Bouwmeester ...
Johan De Meester ...
Eduard Verkade ...
Emma Morel ...
Wim Kan ...
Matthieu van Eysden ...
Sara Heyblom ...
Nel Oosthout ...
Juffrouw Snijders
Elly Van Stekelenburg ...
Mrs. Doeluttel
Tous Sigma ...


Prof. Henry Higgens takes a wager on turning a low class flower seller named Liesje Doeluttel into a presentably lady.

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Plot Keywords:

makeover | based on play | See All (2) »





Release Date:

26 February 1937 (Netherlands)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


George Bernard Shaw saw the film on 16 April 1937 and thought it was terrible, because of the ending. See more »

Crazy Credits

The credit for George Bernard Shaw (as G.B.Shaw.) is printed on a shop window, with Lily Bouwmeester posing as a mannequin. See more »


Version of My Fair Lady: Minha Linda Senhora (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Lily Bouwmeester's star turn
11 July 2010 | by (Rijswijk, ZH, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

You know the story, you know the names, even though they have all been 'Dutchified' for this version (as have the place names) and the setting relocated to Amsterdam. Henry Higgens (you see, not Higgins) annoys and astounds a group of people sheltering from the rain with his knowledge of regional accents by which he can deduce a person's place of origin. A poor flower seller with quite possibly the worst accent he's ever encountered by the name of Liesje Doeluttel follows him home to take up his mock-serious offer of teaching her how to speak properly. Together with his new friend and colleague Pickering, Higgens takes it upon himself to do just that.

According to the liner notes on the DVD released by Het Filmmuseum, German director Ludwig Berger had wanted to film Pygmalion during his Hollywood years. Indeed, Paramount had offered playwright George Bernard Shaw two hundred thousand dollars but the deal fell through when G.B. refused to have changes made to his dialog. A few years later he finally allowed (hence the changed names and the happy ending he resented so much), and in short order three versions were produced in three different languages: German (1935), Dutch (1937, directed by Berger) and English (1938). There were even plans to film a French version simultaneously with the Dutch Pygmalion, using the same sets, but this did not come to pass.

Lily Bouwmeester had been acting for over twenty years both on film (in silent movies) and on the stage, but makes her debut in a leading, speaking role in this production. She had previously auditioned for 1935's 'De Kribbebijter' but was refused on accounts of being 'too plain looking'. The part of Liesje Doeluttel made her into an instant star, leading to several more leading roles in Dutch films and interest from abroad. Unfortunately her career was cut short by the second world war, which indeed put a stop to the entire Dutch film industry for a time. However, Lily did reprise the part of Elisa/Liesje more than 800 times on stage.

Also of note is the participation of legendary comedian Wim Kan, who helped on the script and plays the amusing, if somewhat fey character of the posh young fellow who gets a chance to see Liesje before and after her transformation by Higgens. The broad, loudmouth style of comedy acting affected by Bouwmeester somehow comes of better in the context of the early sound film era than it does in more recent productions, as no doubt it did in stage versions of the time. And as for the ending that Shaw disliked so much, it was not invented for the film version but had been added to the stage-play in order to give the audience a more pleasant resolution.

7 out of 10

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