Cut the Classics

     When we started growing as a movie-going society, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood moguls took to the idea of adopting stage musicals for the silver screen. For the times, this was a wonderful idea. People across the country were able to go and watch the stories of the stage that they heard so much about but were unable to travel and see. Things change with the times; and, to most of our dismay, today most people look at movie musicals as two and a half to three hours of hell.

     I found myself suffering from this stigma the night of March 10th, 1999, when my film and literature class watched the 1964 George Cukor classic My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, Pygmalion. Having seen the musical once before in high school, and having liked it, I was expecting to enjoy myself. Little did I know that that would no longer be the case.

     The problem laid in the fact of the time wasted on wishy washy musical numbers that did not carry any true substance to the essential plot. I am referring to the insignificant role of Mr. Doolittle, the father of Eliza (Stanley Holloway). In watching his performance of "With a Little Bit of Luck," I could not help myself asking, "What is the point of this song?" To me, it had absolutely no point to the story. It only seemed to be a ploy to enlarge the running length of the film.

     The idea was reinforced in my mind when Doolittle went and conversed with Higgins (Rex Harrison). Nothing short of a silly exchange of five dollars took place; then Doolittle disappeared. I was not following the logic behind it. This led me to the conclusion that it would have been more interesting if he had not even been part of the story. To have Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) as a lone family member was far more tantalizing. It would have given her more credit in wanting to better herself; this is all of course in my own opinion.

     The problem proceeded with the reappearance of Doolittle with his "Get Me to the Church on Time" number. This character disappeared for an hour then returns with this new persona of a respectable citizen who is now getting married. Through the entire scene I was completely confused and uninterested for what seemed to be an eternity. The only scene that I was caring about viewing by this time was Doolittle' s death.

     This gave me the idea that this is a reason why most students of my age do not care for musicals. For the first time I was viewing what most of my peers call boring. Now, I was understanding why. My Fair Lady is such a wonderful film, I hated I was having to be distracted in this manner.

     As a consolation, my instructor put things into prospective. She clued me in with the fact that people of the time, the intended audience of the original, would have hung the film makers, including the producer, if all of the show's music had not been included. This is so because they knew the music and expected to hear it. Letting this information sink in, helped my appreciate the entire movie, including Doolittle.

     The most satisfying thing from the whole experience is being able to share that tidbit with the next person I run into that say he or she hates musicals. It goes back to the logic of having no education can hurt. People should understand the origin of things before they judge.

Dale Vanover

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