My Fair Lady, written by Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe in 1956, and Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw in 1913, both have a supporting character named Freddy in them. How Freddy is portrayed alters one's view of the story. It is hard to believe that a supporting character could have such an impact on the story. In the 1938 film Pygmalion, directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, Freddy (David Tree) is a goofy, giggling boy. One would not imagine him a true contender for Eliza's (Wendy Hiller) heart. Therefore, the possibility of Eliza really leaving Professor Higgins (Leslie Howard) for Freddy is not likely. This film does not project the romantic air that I think that the Freddy character should carry with him. I believe an audience would want to imagine that Eliza would not truly mind marrying Freddy, which would not be the case with David Tree's character.
In My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor in 1964, Freddy (Jeremy Brett) is a dignified, young, handsome man that would truly have a chance at any woman's heart (including my own). His actions of waiting in her street night after night do not show a stalker attitude as do those of the Freddy in Pygmalion; rather he shows genuine love. Brett's version of this supporting character gives the film a much-needed romantic quality and a possibility of a happy ending without Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison).
The Freddy shown in the play versions utters the same lines that are spoken in the films; however, those lines could be read in a variety of ways. When one reads the original words, one may have a completely different view of Freddy than one would watching and listening to either of the Freddys in the films. Each director has his own
view on the way his version of the story is to be told and the way the characters are to be presented to convey this version effectively . This is the reason why one might find it interesting that a supporting character, such as Freddy, has such an impact on the story.