The Loveable Drunk

         If I were to act in any of the roles that we have seen this semester, I would choose to assume the role so eloquently played by Stanley Holloway, the role of Alfred P. Doolittle in George Cukor's 1964 My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion. Alfred Doolittle was a relatively small part in this film but still was able to garner Holloway an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. I feel there would be no single character more enjoyable to play than Doolittle a poor dustman of lower class means forced to live by middle class morality.

         The tale of Alfred Doolittle's is far more in the tradition of Cinderella than that of his daughters. His daughter, Eliza (Audrey Hepburn), is forced to work and struggle to overcome her Cockney accent and become a member of the respectable society. Alfred, on the other hand, is simply thrust into greatness by a wealthy benefactor that in true fairy godmother form grants him all the trappings of wealth. Alfred's story is similar to that of a Cinderella; only instead of being covered by soot and cinders he is covered with dust and booze.

         While the rest of the cast is forced into rigid roles, Holloway simply sings and dances his way drunkenly through the scenes. Some actors love to play heroes, others choose villains, but I personally enjoy watching the drunken likeable secondary characters. I would love to be the one in top hat and tails singing in that bar with two equally deplorable boozers while being called by many a moralist. This character is ironic in that the morals that once oppressed him came back to reward him greatly with a little help from Mr. Higgins (Rex Harrison).

         As we watch Doolittle dance about the screen without a care in the world, many of us see the type of person we would like to be. These are people not concerned by the opinions of others, people simply having a good time not weighed down by the fear of failure or by our own inadequacies. Doolittle is a character that is allowed to simply to float in and out of the film providing it with more comic relief than Eliza's daydream of Henry Higgins in front of a firing squad ever could. Holloway is able to not only make you think his performance is sincere but also that he enjoyed doing it. He appears in virtually ever frame he is in to thoroughly enjoy playing the role of Alfred Doolittle, many times stealing the film from the impassioned love story taking place around him. I would seek to emulate this great performance but also to put in some of my own personal touches to make it my own not just a carbon copy of this truly great performance.

Corey McBee

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