Pygmalion, directed in 1938 by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard and based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, is one of my favorite films that we have watched in class so far. I was nervous to learn that we would be watching a musical adaptation of it, but I was optimistic that maybe I would not hate it. My optimism was not enough because the song and dance numbers in George Cukor's 1964 My Fair Lady absolutely made me want to die.
I am not sure if it is just that I hate musicals, or that this one was just terrible, but I could not help but wish for the movie to end. Every time I would get slightly into the movie, I would be interrupted by an unnecessary song and dance number. Eliza's father, who played only a small role in Pygmalion, as acted by Wilfred Lawson, had several of his own song and dance numbers. I really did not feel that his character, as depicted by Stanley Holloway, was important enough to have his own songs. Granted his songs were the more interesting ones, I still do not feel that they were needed.
I did not feel that any of the actors met the standard that was set by those in the 1938 Pygmalion. Leslie Howard delivered such an incredible performance that Rex Harrison could not hope to upstage the former actor. Wendy Hiller was gorgeous, cute, and smart as Eliza in Pygmalion. Audrey Hepburn was a beautiful Eliza. However, her beauty was drowned out by her songs, which were mainly sung by Mari Nixon, not herself. I just could not take her seriously, or anyone else for that matter, when they were bursting out in song at the drop of a hat.
Pygmalion is an excellent story with an incredible plot, interesting dialogue, and humor. I am sure not all musicals are horrible, however, I do not think that Pygmalion was suited to be a musical.