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My Fair Lady

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: My Fair Lady

Starring: Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn
Director: George Cukor
Rated: G
RunTime: 171 Minutes
Release Date: October 1964
Genres: Classic, Comedy, Music, Romance

*Also starring: Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Brett, Theodore Bikel, Henry Daniell, Mona Washbourne, Isobel Elsom

Review by Brian Koller
2½ stars out of 4

It's far too long at 170 minutes. The pace is too slow. Some of the songs are tedious (especially "On the Street Where You Live", the theme song for stalkers worldwide). Eliza's father (Stanley Holloway) should make his own movie, as his character doesn't quite fit in this one. Hepburn is more likeable as a squawking flower girl than as a robotic fashion model.

But despite all its faults, "My Fair Lady" is still a good film. The costumes are excellent, the script, sets and casting is good, and, with the exception of lovesick Freddy (Jeremy Brett), the main characters are both likeable and credible. While songs come from the moon/june school of songwriting, blandly tailored to appearl to the widest possible audience, the choreography that supports them is good (My favorite has Hepburn fantasizing an execution of Harrison).

"My Fair Lady" is based on the George Bernard Shaw play "Pygmalion". Conceited linguistics Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) makes a bet with fellow blue-blood Colonel Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White) that he can transform flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) into a lady. Hepburn becomes subject to Harrison's relentless and degrading training methods, but at least she gets to wear a wide variety of expensive dresses. Hepburn is a success at a ball, winning Higgins' bet, but the question of Hepburn's future, and her relationship with the insulting Harrison, remains to be settled.

For years, "My Fair Lady" could only be seen on NBC. Eliza's exhortation "Move your bloomin' arse" was dubbed to "Move your bloomin' legs", thus demonstrating that even a G-rated movie could not always get past network censors.

"My Fair Lady" is regarded as a dinosaur today; a lavishly produced musical whose target audience is middle-aged women and not their teenaged sons. Of course, the film was more highly regarded in its era. It won eight Oscars including Best Picture, Director (George Cukor), Actor (Harrison), Cinematography (Harry Stradling) and Score (Andre Previn). It also won for sets, costumes, and sound. Supporting actor nominations went to garrulous Holloway and Gladys Cooper (She played Harrison's mother, and was the fortunate recipient of the film's best lines).

Copyright 1995 Brian Koller

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