Tuesday, December 31, 2013

419. My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady
Directed by George Cukor

Happy New Year, everybody.  It is 12:03 right now and I want to get this post written before I go to bed.  Mostly because I had too much caffeine and there are annoying fireworks outside but also because this is going to be a great blogging year and I want to get started right away.

This is one of those movies that I know I should love but I can't get behind.  I love musicals, makeover stories, and George Bernard Shaw.  But this film just lacks in every area, from the acting to the musical numbers.  In fact, The Book notes that there is a large amount of dead time in the film.  If The Book actually admits that something is boring (it maintains that Apocalypse Now is not) than you can bet it is going to be dull.

Eliza Doolittle is a street urchin that sells flowers.  Henry Higgins comes along and is affected, not by the obvious squalor that Eliza and her friends live in, but how freaking annoying her Cockney accent is.  He vows to fix her in the most condescending manner possible, while simultaneously taking all the fun out of a musical by speaking all of his songs.

I have already voiced my opinion on Audrey Hepburn acting skills so I will not rip on her anymore, lest a horde of teenage girls show up with pitchforks at my door.  I actually did enjoy a few songs but a lot of them weren't good enough to be included if they didn't at least move the story along.  I also felt like the film was trying to push Eliza and Henry together romantically when it is quite clear that Henry is gay.  Now, I know I can't really fault them for that since it was a different time but Eliza is in for quite an unpleasant surprise.

It is such a classic that you should probably see it but there are such better musicals out there!  Oh well, on to the next one.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Rex Harrison said that Audrey Hepburn was his favorite leading lady.

Henry Higgins' character was considered too intellectual to sing his songs.  Buzz kill.

Audrey Hepburn was 35 years old while her character was supposed to be 19.

Hepburn's voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon.

My favorite song of the movie:


  1. We are mostly on the same side with Audrey.. or rather the typical Audrey Hepburn role of 'I'm so sweet, pretty and little girlish that everyone must look after me' that I dislike so much.
    Well, she is rather different in this, I guess.. but it's still a musical, (despite, as you point out, Rex Harrison's efforts).

    I was going to say I thought you were being too generous with two stars.. but, well, I guess i can concede their are some enjoyable barnstorming moments in it.. But it is well overly long isn't it?

    PS, I had 3 1/2 hours of Audrey the other day being her silly simpering "I'm not only pretty, but disgustingly rich" thing as Natasha in in War & Peace. She fitted that quite well. Not as good as the overwhelming Russian version, but even at 3 1/2 hours, the US version is still half the length of the Russian version...

    1. I actually just finished reading War and Peace and was wondering if I should check out the movie. So I guess I should check out the Russian one?

  2. It depends how long you are prepared to give it.
    There is no doubt (in my mind) the Russian one is hugely superior.. but, as I say, its easily twice as long. Much more detail, character development etc...
    OK, the US version clicks along quite quickly... but you lose something.. and I'm not totally convinced by Henry Fonda as Pierre.. to me his American pronunciation of Mos-COW, (as opposed to the English English way of MOSS - co) grated a bit. And he is too thin.
    Herbert Lom as Napoleon is good.. as is Oscar Homilka as the Russian general.
    Why am I even wondering which one you should / will pick? I mean, when it came to reading, did you read the 'proper' book .. or the Readers Digest edition?

  3. I think we are a small minority in disliking this movie. I took a bit of heat on my blog for going down on it, but there is no other way I can see. it. Except for two memorable songs this movie hits all the wrong buttons for me. The mptyness, the annoying characters and the totally ridiculos take on language. and I actually like Audrey Hepburn...

    1. I completely agree! Which two songs did you like? I like I Could Have Danced All Night and Wouldn't it Be Loverly. Unfortunately, they only occupy about ten minutes of this three hour nightmare

    2. Well, for me it was Rain in Spain and Get Me to Church in Time, mostly because I know them so well.

  4. I Could Have Danced All Night is great, but why does she suddenly sing it after several tortuous hours of elocution practice? She might as well have sung The Twist for all the sense it made.