Lip-Syncing?

         Musicals are a magic genre of cinema and can bring a joy to film that nothing else can. One of the best musicals of all time is George Cukor’s My Fair Lady. The wonderful story from Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion tells of a cocky professor named Higgins and his bet that he can turn Cockney-speaking flower girl Eliza into a duchess by teaching her to speak correctly. Alan J. Lerner rearranged the play in to a stage musical and later into the film. The music of My Fair Lady is some of the most famous and recognizable in musical movie history. But there is some controversy surrounding the soundtrack.

         When the film was released in 1964, the producers did not announce that Audrey Hepburn (Eliza) did not sing in the film. Marni Nixon, who also dubbed for Deborah Kerr in Walter Lang’s 1956 The King and I and Natalie Wood in Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s 1961 West Side Story, sang all of Eliza’s songs and Audrey Hepburn lip-synced to them on set. It is necessary though to have the actors pre-record the songs and have them sing along on the set so that the songs have the best possible sound quality. The big controversy was that Audrey Hepburn was not nominated for an Oscar that year, but Julie Andrews was for Robert Stevenson’s 1964 Mary Poppins and won. Julie Andrews first played Eliza in the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady but was not chosen to do the film version. There was, and still is some controversy as to why Audrey Hepburn was not nominated for Best Actress and whether her not singing the songs had any impact on that.

         But nonetheless, My Fair Lady is still, and will always be, one of the best movie musicals of all time.

Justin Wylie

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