Nothing Can Compare to Watching a Good Musical

     Reading a play and watching one are two different things. This was the case with My Fair Lady and Pygmalion. These two stories are closely related but very different. They have the same plot but are portrayed as two separate stories.

     George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play Pygmalion is witty and interesting. But it lacks something, maybe presentability. It can hold one's attention for awhile, but then it gets boring. My Fair Lady, written by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe in 1956 and filmed by director George Cukor in 1964, on the other hand, never gets boring. It is an attention-grabber. This adaptation is done perfectly. It uses the good strong plot and adds a twist of its own, music. This music is the key to My Fair Lady's success.

     My Fair Lady differs from Pygmalion in other ways. The endings are two separate events. In Pygmalion, Eliza goes to marry Freddy. This is the least popular ending because Freddy is portrayed as a "dweeby" guy. No one wants to end up with a husband like Freddy. But My Fair Lady gives the audience what they want to see: the possibility of Henry and Eliza ending up together. This helps to please the audience and makes the movies more enjoyable.

     My Fair Lady had many things going for it that Pygmalion did not. It had wonderfully enjoyable song-and-dance scenes along with great actors. The combination of Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn was magical. They worked wonderful together. They were what made the song-and-dance scenes what they became, entertaining. The costumes also helped make these scenes. These elaborate outfits make anything more pleasurable to watch. These costumes were beautiful. Putting these three components together makes Pygmalion pale in comparison. Pygmalion had no chance.

     The film Pygmalion, as compared to My Fair Lady, is about like comparing the play and musical, again. Pygmalion lacked what My Fair Lady found that made this musical work. Pygmalion's Eliza (Wendy Hiller) was weak and boring. This play was not an attention-keeper. Leslie Howard as Henry Higgins was demanding and uncaring throughout the entire play. In My Fair Lady, Rex Harrison portrays Henry uncaring, but not for the film's entirety. Jannelle Zech writes about this in Montage '96. Her article entitled "It Takes One to Know One: A Tale of Two Doolittles" restates the problem with Leslie Howard's Henry. She speaks of how perfect Rex Harrison portrays Henry. He even sings a song for Eliza and how he does in deed care for her. The feeling between the two separate films are entirely different. They do not even need to be compared with one another.

     Apparently, not everyone has the same opinion as when it comes to these films. Jennifer Bean's essay in Montage '96 entitled "Too Much of a Good Thing" tells how she enjoyed the film Pygmalion better then My Fair Lady. She says she thought the bursts of song-and-dance scenes interrupted the story line. To me these scenes enhanced it.

     I cannot understand how anyone could enjoy a play over a musical. I am a musical lover and always have been. I love the outbursts of songs and find myself memorizing the lyrics so I can sing along. My Fair Lady is one of my favorite musicals. The lyrics I do know because I have the soundtrack that my mom brought when the movie was popular. I grew up listening to the record and singing the songs. I feel nothing can compare to watching a good musical. I like the fantasy and elaborate scenes and choreography in musicals that other films do not have. This is why I prefer My Fair Lady to Pygmalion. To me there is no comparison.

Millicent Wilkins

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