A Song for a Sentence

     In the play Pygmalion, written in 1913 by Bernard Shaw, Liza Doolittle is a poor girl living in less than sanitary conditions and selling flowers to make a little money so she can live. One day while she is going about her daily life, a man crosses her path that puts an end to her daily duties. His name is Henry Higgins, and he is a linguist that is just partaking of his daily activity of recording people's speech and found Liza's an interesting one.

     As he is recording Liza's speech, she is informed of his activities and becomes frightened because she fears she is in some sort of trouble. His activities are unmasked to the public; and, in the midst of his explanation, he brags that he bet he could pass Liza of as a high-class individual at a ball without anyone's ever discovering that she is of low-class order. The next day Liza stops at his doorstep, and his visiting friend, Colonel Pickering, takes him up on his bet.

     The 1964 movie My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor, is a musical adaptation of Pygmalion that is less than "fair." All in all the movie was well done; the acting was excellent; the director did a great job telling the story and helping us (the viewers) understand what was happening; the music was even entertaining; but it detracted from the story.

     This is a play that is about a young girl (Audrey Hepburn) that learns to speak properly. She is not learning to sing properly. What use is it to write a musical when we are supposed to hear speech? The fact that the characters sing about daily activities, and Liza indulges in awful whining about everything makes My Fair Lady an even more unpleasant experience.

     True, the basic story itself seems as if it would be a bore because who wants to see a girl learn how to speak properly? Do not sell it short, though; it spell out--is not quite so boring as one may think. With a couple of added love twists and the viewing of the bet in motion, Pygmalion pulls its own weight without being a musical.

Clint Todd

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