Action!

         The main functions of a movie should be to convey an interesting story, have the best characters portrayed by the best actors, entertain the audience, and leave viewers with a new knowledge that they can utilize in the future. The purpose of this essay will be to examine George Cukor's 1964 film, My Fair Lady, to see if each of these elements is present.

         Based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, Pygmalion, the film involves a poor woman, Eliza (Audrey Hepburn), who has grown up selling flowers on the street. As in all societies, resources are limited for members of the lower class, making it extremely difficult to advance. In the story's beginning, Eliza is monitored by a Dr. Higgins (Rex Harrison). As a speech doctor, Higgins listens to her voice and places her residence based on her accent. Eliza realizes that if she undergoes speech therapy more avenues will open to her, and her dream of getting her own flower shop will become a reality. During the course of this training, the two grow fond of each other, but never pursue their feelings. The end is something of a second climax, as the first is Eliza's successful training, being passed off as a lady. The end of this story forces the two to admit their feelings for one another, though Higgins never actually comes out and says it. In light of all this, My Fair Lady has an interesting story and therefore meets one of the above-mentioned factors necessary for a good film.

         Actors truly make the past, and Audrey Hepburn's performance is outstanding. She conveys a very convincing flower girl; and as she transformed, it was still believable when she becomes a lady. Her performance in this adaptation is priceless, and the film's popularity is a testament to this.

         My Fair Lady is entertaining throughout. Minor bouts of bickering between Eliza and Dr. Higgins are sprinkled about in the film, and these small fights are quite entertaining to the audience. In the end Eliza comes back to Higgins, and although he feared he had lost her, without missing a beat, he falls into his chair and asks, "Where the devil are my slippers?"

         The final factor this film includes--and what makes it such a classic--is what it leaves the audience with at the end. In this adaptation, Higgins does not realize how much he cares about Eliza until it is time for her to leave, and her threat of departure pushes Higgins into fight-or-flight mode. He actually experiences both as he at first refuses to admit his feelings for her (i.e. flight). However, after she talks to him and tells him of her plans to go with another man, then he wants to fight for her. The story leaves the audience with the knowledge that one should cherish what one has because it will be missed when it is gone.

         My Fair Lady is an excellent story, and it is the story I enjoyed most in this class, including both the play and its cinematic adaptation. Characters taking action to improve their condition is always a winning plot scenario in my book! Plus, in my favorite adaptation there is a happy ending, something that can make or break a movie for me.

Matt Innes

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