When Two Became One

         As an actor, one must truly understand his or her character, ultimately becoming that person. Many of the films we watched in class depict this very well. One example, the best in my opinion, was Audrey Hepburn when she played Eliza Doolittle in George Cukor’s 1964 My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 Pygmalion.

         Eliza’s character in this film starts out as an unruly young lady who walks the streets begging just to get by. Audrey does a fantastic job of “de-classing” herself to become this stage of Eliza’s life, starting with her speech. In my opinion, that would have been the hardest part--leaving how to speak improper and nasally, then perfecting it so throughout the movie.

         When I began to watch My Fair Lady, I could really see the dedication Audrey had put into the role, so that I would know she is a proper lady. As the movie went on on, I could see Eliza’s character grow and become more acceptable to society, with a little help from her new friends Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) and Colonel Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White). While watching this transformation, I felt as though Audrey herself was going through the transformation, which, I found, was all very realistic. All in all, I believe Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle was the best actor transformation of them all.

         Another example of a good transformation from actor to character was Catherine from The Heiress, directed in 1949 by William Wyler and based on Henry James’s 1880 Washington Square .

         In the beginning I could feel Catherine’s self-consciousness getting the best of her. The woman who played her really brought herself down to that level. When Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) falls in love with Morris (Montgomery Clift), I could see the twinkle in her eye and how vulnerable she is to this man and she would do anything for him. The scene where Morris is begging Catherine to run away with him and get married in the rain, you really get caught up in the moment and forget you are watching a movie.

         The sadly in the end Morris ends up not being a good guy and leaves her a bitter woman. The actress who plays her does a great job at this as well. I got the message that she has been hurt and no longer trusts anyone, especially Morris. In conclusion, the actress’ portrayal of Catherine in The Heiress is one of the best due to her integrity and passion for this character.

         To add a man to the mix, I believe that Marlon Brando who played Stanley from A Streetcar Named Desire, directed in 1951 by Elia Kazan and based on Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play, did a fantastic job. He was able to bring the character Stanley to life in a way that made me hate him! He is rude, mean, disrespectful, outlandish, an alcoholic and much, much more!

         I could really feel his passion for this character. Even the director can agree with me. In scenes where he was yelling and throwing things around, I really felt as though I were in the middle of it and got scared. This is why I believe that Marlon Brando did a fantastic job as Stanley.

         So what makes these actors different than many others seen this semester? They had the ability to really move the audience, including me, in a way we could not tell we were watching a movie. They had the ability to transform their habits and personality into that of their characters. They were the ones that stuck out in my mind above all the rest.

Ashley Stensland

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