How to Make a Long Movie Longer

     When it comes down to it, most of us dislike filler material. For instance, how many people talk about the dynamic characters in Jurassic Park or Jaws? Another example is Machiavelli's The Prince. How many people talk about the first fifteen or so chapters before Machiavelli actually puts his point across?--none that I know of.

     It is this same principle that is the reason why I truly loathed sitting through the 1964 George Cukor movie My Fair Lady. It was apparently Mr. Cukor's idea to use long drawn-out Busby Berkeley-style musical numbers which seem to go on without end. These songs seem to grind the movie to a halt with their annoyingly tedious slow pace and long, drawn-out chorus. After several musical numbers, I found myself motioning with my hands like some frantic conductor, trying to tell the chorus to "get on with it."

     Admittedly, not all of the songs were terrible. In fact, the songs performed by Alfred Doolittle (Stanley Holloway), such as "With a Little Bit of Luck" and "I'm Getting Married in the Morning," were among the most memorable that I have ever heard. However, the cinematic value in these songs was lost in the fact that they held little significance to the plot and were lost in a vast majority of much more mediocre songs. In fact, in the same one hundred and seventy excruciating minutes; I also had to listen to Eliza (Audrey Hepburn, dubbed by Marni Nixon on most of the songs) sing about teaching Higgins a lesson when she inevitably crumbles and stoops down to be with him. I also had to listen to Higgins (Rex Harrison) sing about how much he prefers men to women. It seemed to me that these songs and others formed the nadir of the movie, and could have been easily edited without spoiling the movie's value.

    In fact, I truly wanted to like My Fair Lady; it had a lot of charm; but it was this great number of boring, lifeless musical skits with their unexciting choreography that ruined the movie for me. The movie was fairly long to begin with--the songs pushed it over the edge into the "completely agonizing" category. Considering that George Bernard Shaw's original 1913 play, Pygmalion, was a scant eighty-nine pages, I am convinced that the movie could have gone a lot smoother if only the film makers had lessened this worthless filler.

Joseph M. Pence

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