The Music of Pygmalion

         I do not have the greatest judgment when it comes to old movies, but I must say Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard's 1938 cinematic adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion was a far better movie than George Cukors's 1964 movie version of Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1956 musical play, My Fair Lady. There are many reasons why I prefer Pygmalion, and here are just a few. Pygmalion does not have corny music, and Henry Higgins is played by a much better actor.

         First of all, the music was terrible. Pygmalion and My Fair Lady are almost identical except for one major factor: the music and singing by the actors and actresses. I liked both movies, but My Fair Lady just did not cut the mustard. I am not a big fan of musicals, and My Fair Lady is just one more musical to add to my bad list. None of the songs excited me as they should have. The best song by far was "Just You Wait Henry Higgins" sung by Eliza, with Audrey Hepburn starting off and Marni Nixon doing the parts in the higher register. In this song at least the screen writers pull out some of Eliza's imagination and make the song a little funny. Every other song in this movie needed to be a lot better. For instance, many songs should have been cut out altogether; and the remaining songs need to be shortened.

         In Pygmalion, Leslie Howard as Henry Higgins was a far better actor than My Fair Lady's Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins. Harrison's Henry lost a lot of points in My Fair Lady when he started to sing. I feel that My Fair Lady did not convince me enough about Henry Higgins being all that smart. Sure he was surrounded by a huge library and all, but he still did not seem as intelligent. The way Leslie Howard carried himself through the movie was much better than the way Rex Harrison did. Rex seemed to rely more on props to make him seem intelligent rather than his mannerisms.

         Since I have seen both Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, I will never watch My Fair Lady again; but Pygmalion would be worth seeing again. As I have stated above, the music of My Fair Lady just turned me off of that version. Plus, I like the far superior acting skills that Leslie Howard portrayed over Rex Harrison.

James Smith

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