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My Fair Lady Movie Review

My Fair Lady

 

5 of 5 stars A flower girl blossoms into an exquisite woman   February 7, 2001 

The opening scenes of the rain-drenched cobblestone roads and theatrical backdrop lend a stage feel to a film adaptation of the Lerner & Loewe musical. Since it was based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play "Pygmalion", you won't mind the occasional "stage" echoes. In fact, that adds to the appeal.

We find Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) selling flowers and spewing out the most dreadful words in a Cockney accent. It is really almost unbearable, but don't turn the movie off as it doesn't last too long. Audrey Hepburn is perhaps the most beautiful actress to ever grace the screen in my humble opinion. Here, she shines and is only a wall flower for the first part of the movie. Later she blossoms into an exquisite woman who could win the heart of any man. It is truly her best acting.

Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) and Colonel Pickering discover her selling flowers and after Professor Higgins throws money into her flower basket we expect the two will never meet again. Eliza has other ideas and proudly marches up to the professor's home and demands to be taught to speak like a lady.

Colonel Pickering then makes a bet with Professor Higgins and says that if he can turn this uncultured "gutter snipe" with a "simply ghastly" accent into a sophisticated, elegant duchess, he will pay for all the expenses. (Reminiscent of "Trading Places" to give a modern example) It is just irresistible to the professor and so he takes on a challenge for six months.

 

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Higgins arrogant attitude will make you laugh. He is humorously as unaware of other's feelings as he is of his own. He is at first very unlikable, yet made me laugh through the whole movie. You will enjoy his eccentric view of life and cunning attitude as he tempts Eliza with chocolates.

When you hear "I Could Have Danced All Night," you will know why this will become one of your favorite musicals. "On the Street Where You Live" always makes me cry. The script is superb and humorous in so many places. you will find yourself crying, laughing, and becoming increasingly enchanted as the movie progresses. I love this line:

"The great secret in life is not a question of good manners or bad manners, or any particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls." -Professor Higgins

Higgins and Eliza have quite a few passionate verbal exchanges which are quite amusing. Eliza says: "I want a little Kindness." and we immediately know that love is the only aspect missing from this relationship. Higgins has to learn to love and that to me is the undercurrent in this movie. While Eliza learns to speak well, Higgins learns to love well.

This unlikely romance is food for the soul. The ending is unpredictable and cute. The movie is sumptuously filmed and it is undeniable witty and sophisticated. The costumes and hair styles are the most elegant I have ever seen. If you enjoy ironic, intellectual comedy, be prepared to also fall in love with the most irresistible songs of all time. This enduring classic could not have been pulled off without Audrey Hepburn. No one could have played Henry Higgins like Rex Harrison!

There is a beauty about this movie which is just as eternal as love. You will want to own your own copy so you can watch it again and again. It has never lost its charm for me.

 

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