What could be more fascinating to watch than reforming a poor flower girl into a beautiful and elegant duchess? There are not many things that are more exciting to see than this. Eliza Doolittle, played by Audrey Hepburn, in the 1964 movie My Fair Lady is remarkable. Her grace and elegance fill the screen with her beauty and glamour. After reading George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, Pygmalion, watching Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard's 1938 movie Pygmalion, reading Alan J. Lerner's 1956 play My Fair Lady, and watching George Cukor's musical movie My Fair Lady, I have to say that the musical was my favorite. In my opinion the movie Pygmalion does not hold a flame to My Fair Lady.
Growing up with a musical grandfather, I was very heavily influenced by musical instruments and jazz music. My grandfather, Chuck, was a very fine musician. He played the drums and the piano, and he owned his own music store. This is the reason I am so impressed by seeing such wonderful screen works such as the musical version of the story of Pygmalion, My Fair Lady.
After reading the play Pygmalion, I was very excited to get to watch both of the movies that were based on the book, especially the musical version. Therefore, one of the things that disappointed me about the movie Pygmalion was the fact that none of the actors sang. The non-singing Leslie Howard was disappointing in the role of Henry Higgins.
On the contrary, since music has been a big part of my life since I was a little girl, I truly appreciate the singing and dancing that was in the musical My Fair Lady. Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison on screen together in My Fair Lady are remarkable. They worked so well together in the musical. When I was reading the book, I had this image in my mind of what Henry Higgins would look like. I imagined him being big, tall, and really mean. Since he is so mean to everyone in the book, it made me think that he would be powerful and intimidating, which is exactly what Rex Harrison was. Rex Harrison did a superb job in portraying the ill-spoken old grump. He had the perfect look and voice for the part. Audrey Hepburn was also a better choice for the musical because of her grace and elegance. She had that likeness to light up the screen with her presence. She added so much to the musical. She did such a wonderful job with her singing (mainly miming Marni Nixon, who was doing most of the singing) and dancing.
I much prefer the musical to the straight movie, Pygmalion, for one of the highlights of My Fair Lady is to hear and see them sing all of the songs, which become contagious and make me want to sing along too. Maybe I am biased because I grew up with a musical background; but I do know one thing for sure. They sure do not make movie musicals the way they used to.