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Sunday, April 13, 2008

My Fair Lady (1964)

There have been many movies that have been adapted from successful plays or musicals, less so in recent time; but much more in earlier times. One of the best adaptations of a stage musical was the creation of the movie, 'My Fair Lady', released in 1964. The movie was a great success, both commercially and critically. The movie and the stage musical are both based on the famous play, Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw. The movie also starred some famous names, such as Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, and part of the success of the movie can be attributed to the presence of these 2 stars.
The movie was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, and won 8 of them, a pretty large number. In addition, it won the BAFTA Best Film. The movie picked up the 2 Oscar awards that defined the movies: Best Picture, and Best Direction. The awards that the movie got nominated for and won were:

My Fair Lady (1964)


* Best Picture - Jack L. Warner
* Best Director - George Cukor
* Best Actor - Rex Harrison
* Best Cinematography - Harry Stradling
* Best Sound - George R. Groves, Warner Brothers Studio
* Best Music Score - Andre Previn
* Best Art Direction - Gene Allen, Cecil Beaton and George James Hopkins
* Best Costume Design - Cecil Beaton


* Best Adapted Screenplay - Alan Jay Lerner
* Best Film Editing - William Ziegler
* Best Supporting Actor - Stanley Holloway
* Best Supporting Actress - Gladys Cooper

The movie is seen as an all time great, one of the 100 best movies. The concept of the movie is interesting, about a person so confident of his linguistic abilities that he is willing to bet that he can turn any woman (of any upbringing) from the street into a proper refined lady who can deceive anybody.
And so, the arrogant Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) boasts that he can turn the young flower seller girl, Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) on the street, the one with a strong accent that can be as un-aristocratic as you can believe; in fact, he is positive that he is willing to pay for the expenses of this transformation and has a bet with a new friend, Colonel Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White). And so starts the whole project. In fact, in the beginning, this whole effort seems to be headed for failure - the desired transformation is difficult, and Henry is a strict teacher. However, just when they all seem to be giving up, Henry lightens up and gives her a good explanation of the history of the English language, along with its beauty. This speech seems to have done the trick, and Eliza now seems to be able to speak with an upper class accent.
Eliza is now able to start acting the part, and she is able to make a good impression in the races at Ascot with a new sophisticated way, except for when she lapses back into a cockney accent. And then comes the decision time, Eliza appears at an embassy ball as a mysterious lady, of an obvious noble rank, and passes the bet even with the evaluation of an expert. However, now that the bet has been won, Higgins starts getting distanced from Eliza, being seemingly callous to her future prospects. She is not happy and walks out. He soon starts missing her, and tries to get her back; but his ego again comes in the way and she refuses. He reaches back home, seemingly initially unconcerned about her not coming back, but misses her and plays her phonograph records. And then, she comes back and things are now right.

Being a musical, the movie had some great music. Here are all the songs from the movie.

Act One

* Overture (conducted by Previn)
* Why Can't The English? (Harrison)
* Wouldn't It Be Loverly (Nixon)
* An Ordinary Man (Harrison)
* With A Little Bit of Luck (Holloway)
* Just You Wait (Hepburn/Nixon)
* Servants Chorus
* The Rain in Spain (Hepburn/Nixon and Harrison)
* I Could Have Danced All Night (Hepburn/Nixon)
* Ascot Gavotte
* Ascot Gavotte [reprise]
* On the Street Where You Live (Shirley)
* Intermission

Act Two

* Transylvanian March
* Embassy Waltz
* You Did It (Hyde-White and Harrison)
* Just You Wait [reprise] (Hepburn)
* On The Street Where You Live (Shirley)
* Show Me (Shirley and Nixon)
* Get Me to The Church on Time (Holloway)
* A Hymn to Him (Harrison and Hyde-White)
* Without You (Hepburn/Nixon)
* I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face (Harrison)
* Finale
* Exit Music

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