The endings are very different between the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (1913), and Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard's film Pygmalion (1938). The difference I am talking about is of course the fate of Eliza.
In the 1913 play Pygmalion Eliza ends up with Freddy. In the film, of course, Eliza (Wendy Hiller) goes back to Higgins (Leslie Howard). I found it rather odd that such a large change was made to the story. I know that there is the whole idea of a Hollywood romance, and everyone wants a happy ending, but I found the ending in the movie to be quite the opposite. In the film Eliza goes back to a man who has been verbally abusing her for months. Of course we are meant to think that he is capable of more and that he really does love her, but come on: he is an ass. And what about Freddy (David Tree)?-Freddy, we know, truly does love Eliza and will do anything to prove that to her. He brings her flowers and melts every time he has a chance to even catch a glimpse of her. So what is wrong with Freddy? He was good enough for Eliza in the play, and I believe it should have been the same in the movie.
Well, here is what I think. In the play Eliza is shown as being a strong and independent woman. She gets what she desired from Higgins and then leaves him to wallow in his own selfishness. Higgins may have truly loved Eliza, but he does not know how to treat a woman. Freddy, on the other hand, is hopelessly in love with Eliza and would do anything it takes to please her. So, Eliza being a strong woman, decides that she would rather be with a man who loves her, even if is not rich and articulate, than be with a man who is and treats her like crap.
Of course the movie does not show this. I believe the reason being the time period in which it was filmed. I do not think it would have gone over too well to have shown a strong and independent woman who can take advantage of a man and then kick him to the curb. So in the film the film makers dumb her down to the role of a stereotypical woman. Eliza is shown as needing Higgins. Although we all know from reading the play that this is not true, film makers of the time would not dare show something so controversial as an independent woman.