I find it somewhat bothersome that so much can be lost in the transition from a play to a movie. George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play Pygmalion was noticeably changed and given the title My Fair Lady first in 1956 by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe and then in 1964 when it hit the big screen, as directed by George Cukor. The play's transformation into a musical was a lovely idea, and although much stayed the same, in my opinion, the most liberating and redeeming aspect of the play was omitted in its conversion to film.
After reading the play Pygmalion, I developed a sense of satisfaction in knowing that Eliza had become a well-mannered lady with respect for herself. When she finally spoke up and stood up for herself, Higgins began to look at her as more than a flower girl from the street; but he would never let her know that. I found it very gratifying when she walked out the door and left Higgins standing there dumbfounded, proclaiming, "She's going to marry Freddie." The play ended giving the reader an opportunity to decide whether Eliza was going to return with the items that Higgins had requested or run off with Freddie to be married. From my perspective, she married Freddie without a doubt.
My Fair Lady possessed the ability to entrance the viewer with delightful songs and remarkable actors. I thought Audrey Hepburn gave an excellent portrayal of Eliza Doolittle, and perhaps I was predisposed to enjoy the film as a result of the great admiration I hold for Hepburn. Such momentum was fostered to create a wonderfully dramatic ending with Eliza walking out of Higgins' (Rex Harrison) life only to have her relinquish her newfound self respect and return to him, especially after enduring the dominance Higgins seemed to have maintained over Eliza all the way through the end of the film. I was very disappointed in the manner in which the movie fell into the romantic stereotype, especially with this ending. When he asked her to fetch his slippers I cringed and so desperately wanted her to walk out the door.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of a DVD is the choice of an alternate ending; I would have taken much pleasure in utilizing this option while watching My Fair Lady. Viewing an ending that remained true to the play would have made me appreciate the story even more.