Pompous phonetics Professor Henry Higgins (Sir Rex Harrison) is so sure of his abilities that he takes it upon himself to transform a Cockney working-class girl into someone who can pass for a cultured member of high society. His subject turns out to be the lovely Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn), who agrees to speech lessons to improve her job prospects. Higgins and Eliza clash, then form an unlikely bond, one that is threatened by aristocratic suitor Freddy Eynsford-Hill (Jeremy Brett).Written by
The entire Ascot Gavotte sequence was shot with all of the characters dressed in shades of black, white, and gray (with one light yellow hat and one small red flower). One of the reasons Audrey Hepburn's entrance to the scene is so striking is the total contrast of her dress, pure white with green stripes, lilac and red decorations, to the relatively bland coloration of the musical number preceding it. See more »
When Professor Higgins talks about the breakfast cakes, Colonel Pickering drinks his coffee and puts the cup back on the saucer. But in the close up shot he repeats the same action. See more »
[sounds from crowd, occasionally a word or phrase, indistinct and mostly not associated with a character]
Don't just stand there, Freddy, go and find a cab.
All right, I'll get it, I'll get it.
See more »
In the posters, playbills and the original cast album for the stage version of "My Fair Lady", the credits always read "based on Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' ", letting the audience know what play "My Fair Lady" was actually adapted from. The movie credits simply read "from a play by Bernard Shaw". See more »
In the remastered version of the film, some of the scene changes are changed from sudden cuts to wipe outs, as they probably were when the film was released. When CBS Fox released it on video originally, they were changed to sudden cuts. See more »
Great musical could have been even greater except for a tired Rex and a miscast Audrey...
For several reasons, this has never been one of my favorite movie musicals. First, it looks too stagebound. The sets look like sets that nobody ever lived in. The costumes are so fresh they look as if they just came from the latest wardrobe fitting. Secondly, and more importantly, Rex Harrison was tired--VERY TIRED by the time he got to do the role on film that he created on Broadway. Compare the original cast recording of 'My Fair Lady' with his rendition of the numbers in the film and you'll see what I mean. Not only that--he looks visibly tired and bored with the role. And thirdly, as much as I always liked Audrey Hepburn, she is not suited either temperamentally or vocally for the role and this is the big casting mistake Jack Warner made when he decided he couldn't risk millions on the unknown Julie Andrews. Julie had the right accent, the right look, the right voice, the right age--listen to the original cast recording and, again, you'll see what I mean. She would have photographed beautifully in technicolor (or Warnercolor or whatever it was) and added her own distinctive charm to the role. Thank God Disney recognized her talents and she ended up winning an Oscar that year anyway for 'Mary Poppins'. Hepburn tries hard but fails to convince--she always looks like an actress, a very good one, but still an actress playing a role. And on film the age difference between Eliza and Professor Higgins is too great--it's a distraction that wasn't as glaring on stage whenever an older actor played Higgins--but here it's too much. The supporting roles are brilliantly performed. I particularly liked Theodore Bikel as the man who can't quite place Eliza's accent at the ball. Gladys Cooper, Wilfrid Hyde-White and others are similarly impressive. But the pace is too slow--too many dull spots between musical highlights. And Stanley Holloway gets to be slightly annoying after awhile. The music is of course still a sheer delight with one of the finest scores ever written for a stage musical. But for almost three hours the film goes on and on with a story that could have been told in half the time. Cukor's penchant for preserving every last detail for the camera does not serve him well here, however rich that detail is. And yet, he won the Oscar for Best Director--an award probably given for his many other achievements in filmmaking over a long career. No, not my favorite musical--too stagebound and artifical to seem genuine with a tired Rex and a miscast Audrey. And contrary to what others have said here about Marni Nixon, she did an outstanding job on the vocals and deserves no demerits for her work.
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