Professor Higgins' Bohemian Ideals

         Even though My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion, is not my favorite classic film, I enjoyed the acting of Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins in the 1964 film, directed by George Cukor. The film starred Audrey Hepburn in the role of Eliza Dolittle. Hepburn did a decent job of portraying Eliza, but I found myself watching Higgins because he was such an interesting character. In fact, he was the only character in the movie that I cared for.

         Professor Higgins is an intelligent man with bohemian ideals. A person dubbed as a bohemian is one that is unconventional especially in appearance or behavior. People that fit into this category are sometimes classified as living the "bohemian lifestyle." The bohemian life is carefree and very liberal. Higgins was definitely not caught up in the way other people chose to live.

         Higgins was a respected man, but one would never know by looking at the way he dressed or acted around his peers. He was constantly experimenting, which is another bohemian characteristic. Higgins certainly had a great deal of money, but he was not quick to flaunt his wealth.

         His carefree way of life obviously upset his mother (Gladys Cooper) when he presented Eliza to her friends at the opening day at the Ascot races. She was a respected woman and did not appreciate her son bringing a project over to test on her upper-class friends. However, in this scene, as well as in others, Higgins brought so much laughter to the film. It was easy to fall in love with his character.

         Everyone dreams of living a rich and carefree life. Higgins did just that. It is hard to keep one's sympathy with Eliza throughout the film because Higgins is so likable. It is easy to understand why he often loses his patience with her. I got tired of watching Eliza act like the victim. However, Rex Harrison's performance was definitely worth enduring the length of the film.

Whitney Alexander

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