No Longer My Fair Lady

         My Fair Lady (1964), directed by George Cukor, is questionably greatly respected by moviegoers in spite of the lack of talent displayed by the celebrated Audrey Hepburn. The film is an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, Pygmalion, which was much better served by Wendy Hiller's performance of Eliza Doolittle in the 1938 movie Pygmalion, directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard.

         I have always been a true and devote fan of Audrey Hepburn; however, her acting performance while playing Eliza Doolittle was disappointing indeed in the film My Fair Lady. At the end of this film, I found myself questioning the acting abilities of my beloved Audrey. I have always maintained a high regard for her acting capabilities due to my admiration of her numerous crowd pleasers, including Love in the Afternoon, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Roman Holiday, and many others. I have often found myself popping these movies into my VCR to admire her grace with hopes to learn what it is like to truly be elegant.

         I am not usually a fan of musicals; therefore, this class was the first time that I have placed myself in the position to sit through My Fair Lady, contrary to the admiration I have always had for Audrey Hepburn. However, this movie has permanently tainted that admiration.

         I never would have expected that I would one day find myself upset with the actress that I had for so long believed to be the ideal archetype of a talented woman for all young females to admire. I considered her to be exceptional in the ability to display grace, unsurpassed when it came to acting the part of a true lady, and incomparable in terms of simply being an actress of true talent.

         My Fair Lady, in the span of a few short hours, has managed to magnificently destroy all of those years of high esteem I held so long for one of my most admired actresses. Although Audrey Hepburn had once been an actress that I was not able to get enough of on the screen, I was surprised to find myself longing for the electricity to go out or a fire alarm to go off in order to put an end to an intolerable performance. Her horrendous acting kept the audience from believing that Audrey Hepburn was actually at once a true flower girl. The transition from a poor flower girl to a woman of class was one the most unbelievable scenes in my personal history of film viewing. Only a few short moments passed between her first audible moment of success in a proper accent and the moment that she was able to perform an entire song with an unblemished accent. At this moment, all credibility for the necessary capabilities of this actress to play the role of the poor flower girl had vanished.

         Pygmalion (1938), directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, has definitely been neglected as far as acting capabilities are concerned. The two main actors, Leslie Howard, who played Henry Higgins, and Wendy Hiller, who played Eliza Doolittle, both presented an outstanding performance of actual acting. Wendy Hiller projected the transition from a poor flower girl to a true lady slowly and magnificently. While watching the success of Wendy Hiller's Eliza at the ball, I felt the real shock of astonishment that I had not experienced while watching Audrey Hepburn's performance in the same scene in My Fair Lady. Perhaps the position of my own new "fair lady" should be leaning closer towards the talented Wendy Hiller.

Janna Tanner

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