Eliza Not a Cinematic Gold Digger

         After watching Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard's 1938 Pygmalion, based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, I have decided that I like it more than the play. I liked the ending of it much better because Eliza comes back to Henry Higgins. The only thing that I really disliked about the film was the black and white.

         I thought that the characters of Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering were done well by Leslie Howard and Scott Sunderland, and they were very convincing in their speech and hand and eye gestures. Wendy Hiller played Eliza Doolittle perfectly. She portrayed her wonderfully and actually made me interested to watch it all. Henry Higgins kept flip-flopping his character which gave me ideas of him being fickle, especially at first when I felt more sympathetic to Eliza. Eliza was the character that stood out to me. She was convincing as a poor undeserving flower girl. She looked the part from head to toe and her accent was the nail in the coffin.

         I felt sorry for Eliza at first by Higgins' mistreatment and word bashing towards her. Eliza's movie character, as depicted by Wendy Hiller, adapted so well in comparison with the book that is was strikingly unbelievable. I was so impressed by the way she studied hard to accomplish her goals. She had nothing really at stake and did exactly what she needed to get by. At times of the movie I had pity for her, especially when she was a flower girl trying to make good.

         Nevertheless, after everything that Higgins did for her, I felt that she had wounded his heart by her ungratefulness. I understand the position that Higgins was in because he had provided for her, taught her, and sheltered her at his and Pickering's own expenses. Her father, played by Wilfred Lawson, had used his common sense to take advantage of the generous offer Higgins and Pickering provided him. He got a job and turned himself from a beggar to a middle-class gentleman.

         However, Eliza had let herself get too caught up in the moment, unlike her father, and only thought of herself at the end when she told Higgins off and left with Freddy. I had thought that Eliza and Higgins seemed to have so much love and respect for one another that such selfishness should not have gotten in the way. In fact, I feared that she had turned into a con artist gold digger at the end of the play, when she walked out, owing Higgins and Pickering so much for all that they had done for her.

         I think the ending in the movie is much better because the audience wants her to go back to Higgins since she owes him so much for all the time, effort, and emotion he had invested in her, from which she had so intensely benefitted. Besides, it is clear from the movie that Eliza and Higgins should be together because they are so opposite that they are similar enough to be rewarding partners for each other.

Drew Vincent

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