To Sing or Not to Sing: That Is the Question

     Upon watching and reading both versions of the story Pygmalion (musical: My Fair Lady, I find that it is hard to decide which is the better version of the same story. Both versions have their good and bad points to them.

     The story Pygmalion, written in 1913 by George Bernard Shaw, and the movie, directed in 1938 by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, were interesting in themselves. At times the story was entertaining. The part I found the best feature was how quickly they show Eliza's (Wendy Hiller's) vocal training. They flash through her progression. The scene where she fails the first test against Higgins' mother (Marie Lohr) and her friends and the scene where she is fretting over the proper titles of royalty play a pivotal role in the film. They show her progression from street urchin to "Duchess of Hungary." The only low points to this version are that the story can drag and feel slow at times.

     The play My Fair Lady, written in 1956 by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe, and movie, directed in 1964 by George Cukor, are more lively than the previous version, Pygmalion. In My Fair Lady this can be a good thing. The random singing and dancing can help to liven up the story and add a new dimension to the story. The bad parts of this story can be the singing at times. Sometimes the singing can go on too long. Some songs also seem totally unnecessary. The scene at the racetrack (changed from the scene in Pygmalion where Eliza visits Higgins' mother's home) to me is just fitting to the story. Overall though, I found the songs to be a nice occasional distraction to the story, even though they do make the movie longer.

     In conclusion, I enjoyed both versions of Pygmalion (and My Fair Lady). I found the singing and the non-singing not to distract in anyway from the initial story that is represented. I recommend both versions to anyone who enjoys a good story and a fun set of films to watch.

Richard Shepherd

Table of Contents