Pygmalion Superior to My Fair Lady

        Before this class, I was definitely a fan of My Fair Lady, directed in 1964 by George Cukor. I had seen the movie, with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison when I was about twelve years old and fell in love with the songs and the plot. It helped that I was a huge Greek and Roman myth nerd and knew the Pygmalion story, told in George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play, pretty well going into it.

        When I found out that Audrey Hepburn did not actually do her singing in the movie, I was kind of heartbroken. I love Audrey Hepburn; but, once I did a little research and realized she did not even play Eliza Doolittle on stage, that the actress was Julie Andrews, I was devastated and felt betrayed.

        It was not until this class that I saw Pygmalion, directed in 1938 by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, by with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller playing Dr. Higgins and Eliza respectively that I realized just how superior that movie is to My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn.

        I am not a Leslie Howard fan. I have been watching Victor Fleming’s 1939 Gone with the Wind steadily since I was about five years old and have built up a pretty good hatred of his portrayal of Ashley Wilkes. He is just horrible in that movie. He plays the character well, which is why I dislike him so much, out of loyalty to Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler; but the dislike has been there for so long, and I have seen Leslie Howard in so few other movies that he will always be Ashley Wilkes to me to some degree.

        However, he is absolutely fantastic as Henry Higgins. He is likeable, even when he is being condescending and awful to Eliza, and he is such an adorable nerd, with his dark-rimmed glasses and pipe and swearing. He completely embodies everything that Henry Higgins should be

        As far as Wendy Hiller goes, I will always be loyal to Audrey; but Hiller plays the role much more convincingly than, I fear, Hepburn ever could. Her accent is much more believable and her transformation much more dramatic.

         Pygmalion, in my opinion, is vastly superior to My Fair Lady.

Alexa K Adams