Wendy Hiller Has a Ball as Eliza Doolittle

         In the 1913 written version of the play Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw, and the 1938 film adaptation, directed by Anthony Asquith/Leslie Howard, Eliza Doolittle, played by Wendy Hiller, has the role of a poor girl who wants nothing more out of life but to talk and act like a lady. Wendy Hiller did a fantastic job playing this role. In my eyes her boisterous voice and exaggerated motions made her seem so believable. This movie was not only hilarious and entertaining, but I would also consider it a kind of modern-day Cinderella. Eliza Doolittle was a project and bet taken on by Henry Higgins, depicted by Leslie Howard, and Colonel Pickering, acted by Scott Sunderland, Eliza takes classes from Henry in hopes to change her from a life of rags to one of riches.

         Throughout the main part of the film Eliza focuses on her speech and language, which are in much need of some help. Listening to her on screen was almost impossible for me. She was loud, obnoxious, outspoken and vulgar. After much needed practice she mastered the English language and in turn, became more lady-like. I think my favorite part of watching her happened when Higgins took her to his mother's (Marie Lohr) at home, where she cursed the word "bloody" in front of everyone, who regarded her and Higgins as crazy.

         In this Cinderella-like transformation, Eliza leaves her former dirty, vulgar, street life to become an elegant lady. Through the help of Higgins, Pickering, and Mrs. Pearce, played by Jean Cadell, she was not only able to dress like a lady but also talk like one.

          Wendy Hiller's Eliza Doolittle made this movie hilarious in more ways than one. It was entertaining to see her go from a life of rags to a lady similar to Cinderella. Falling for Henry Higgins made her want to become more of a lady. Despite the new clothes, and English lessons, the end of the film demonstrates how a true lady is only seen from within. Even though at the end of the film Eliza had truly become a beautiful lady in every way, the real lady lived inside her. and Henry Higgins did not even see it.

Brandy Couleas

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