For my entire life I have been an admirer of music. I have also been a great admirer of film. However, I have never been a fan of reading. Through the twenty-one years of my life I have concluded that I do not like reading because I am a visual learner, and it simply takes way too much time for me to get through a book. I could explain further, but I believe the point is clear.
So, a few years ago I found myself in a debate with a friend of mine about the pros and cons of inserting music in film and other literary mediums and vice versa. I, being a composer of music, am all for it. I believe that music in film in any ratio always says or does something a character cannot. One the other end, it is necessary at times to insert film or spoken word into music. Sometimes the music cannot say everything.
As our conversation lengthened, the musical entered into the conversation. I will admit that I believe the musical does have its place, although, let us face it: most musicals are simply corny. Why? Do not ask me; I do not write them. However, I do respect them.
My Fair Lady, written in 1956 by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe and filmed in 1964 by George Cukor, was my defense on the topic of musicals. As a movie the story, based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion, is dry, yet the characters are magnificently cast. It does have a certain wit about it, but most of that is due to Audrey Hepburn's outstanding performance as Eliza Doolittle. Then, the music…what can one say when it comes to the music. It adds everything the film lacks!!!
After watching this film, I do not even care if Eliza and Higgins (Rex Harrison) are in love or not. Let her go do what she wants. It is not a factor. The music adds comedy, wit, action, it moves the plot, and it truly helps the viewer understand how these characters feel in these situations. One must admit that "The Rain in Spain…" would get rather boring if there had been no music involved to show the excitement of Eliza, Higgins, and Pickering (Wilfred Hyde White) over Eliza's breakthrough to her correct pronunciation.
Whatever my reservations are about musicals in general, I did enjoy My Fair Lady because it is in fact a great Cinderella story, brought to life by the wonderful music.