A Necessary Mediator

         Pygmalion, the book, was written by George Bernard Shaw in 1913. Pygmalion, the 1938 movie, was directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard. This has been the first movie to really follow the book’s storyline, characters, and details perfectly, so differences are minimal. The one similarity that makes both stories work is the character of Colonel Pickering (Scott Sunderland).

        Liza (Wendy Hiller) was a “street smart” flower girl, who had always been poor. She did not come from a good family or have much of a family life. She was from Lisson Grove and had obtained an accent from there that would always keep her on the streets. Liza was stuck in her underclass ways but always dreamt of plans to take her away from her struggles. Higgins (Leslie Howard) that fateful night became the man to get her out of the gutter and into a flower shop.

        Higgins was a professor of phonetics and had taught many people with position and wealth; he taught the English language. He was as stubborn as a mule and definitely set in his own ways; just ask his housekeeper Mrs. Pearce (Jean Caudel). Higgins saw and treated all people the same, no matter their position or wealth. This is why he came off as rude and unmannered. Higgins was also consumed by his work and would stop at nothing to show it off.

        Colonel Pickering was a professor of Indian dialects. He was also the levelheaded, kind, middleman. As soon as Liza came to Higgins for help, Pickering was there to smooth the way. He taught Liza manners and showed her kindness, while keeping Higgins in check. Pickering treated all persons the same in a good way; no matter their position or wealth he showed them respect. When Higgins threatened Liza, Pickering would reassure Liza that no harm would come to her. Pickering even stepped in as a father would and made sure Higgins’ intentions with Liza were good. If it had not been for Pickering this great “experiment” would have never taken place because with Liza’s and Higgins’ stubbornness, they would have just butted heads.

Kelly Kneer