Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Fair Lady [1964]

Whew, where do I start?
Fun Fact: Rex Harrison was actually a tiny pygmy-man,
and everyone towered over him. To solve this problem during filming,
the director used force-perspective effects not unlike those used to
create the illusion of shortness on the actors who played hobbits
in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Well, My Fair Lady is the film version of a stage musical that's based on a play that's based on a Greek myth. It stars Audrey Hepburn, who is delightful and classy as always. It's um, also very long, and I didn't take kindly to it when at the two hour mark Mom told me that there was still an hour left to go.
You're joking, right?
The thing is, I like my musicals to be fast-paced, somewhat serious, and lacking in age-long song and dance numbers (Okay, so The Music Man is none of that, but hey, there's always got to be the exception to the rule). My Fair Lady isn't the most enthralling movie I've ever seen, and I feel like some scenes didn't even have to be in there at all! Was it really necessary to have a five minute song and dance number about Mr. Doolittle's wedding? Was it? Because we never see that bloke again for the whole rest of the movie! Why did we need a whole song on the topic?!
But inbetween the deserts of tedium and shrieking, there actually were a lot of funny scenes! My favorite scene was when Higgins took Eliza to the Ascot Horse Races to 'try her out', and she ends up talking about un-ladylike topics, and yelling and swearing for her chosen horse to go faster. It was hysterical! Also the part where they were trying to get Eliza to take a bath (Which my little brother walked in on... and then immediately left.). So I didn't really mind the fact that the movie was longer than an age of Middle Earth. I did mind Rex Harrison's singing, though.
Seriously, he totally talked through all his songs. Not good... you'd think that for a musical they'd cast a guy who actually sings. The lady who voiced over for Eliza was pretty good, though. Nice tone, nice vibrato, etc.
Aside from the inconsequential wedding song, my biggest issue with this movie was it's ending. It was kind of a cop-out ending. In the original play, Eliza ends up marrying the awkward, constantly-hounded-by-his-mother-and-sister, Freddie. The movie however, ends with Eliza coming back to Henry Higgin's house and then I suppose they ran out of film. Because then the movie just stopped. Wha?! I know that the filmmakers really wanted Eliza and Henry to work out, but why? I suppose it's just as well. Freddie's pretty flat and insignificant anyway. I don't care what people say, though. In my mind, Eliza just came back to Henry's place so she could kick him one last time for being a misogynistic git. So there. ;)

The Verdict: B-
So I think that I mostly thought it was pretty good. My sister is much more forgiving towards super-long musicals, so if you want a less biased opinion... yeah. I think this movie could have been so much more awesome if instead of having a five-minute song about something that has no bearing on the plot, maybe they could have made Freddie's character less of a cardboard cutout. Then they could have ended it right. Mwahaha, because I'm so much smarter than professional filmmakers!
But hey! If you like old-fashioned musicals that are hilarious and filled with yummy costumes, have I got the movie for you!
What I'm saying is that even if I don't personally like this movie that much, I still understand why it's a much-loved classic. :)
Oh, and it's my 100th Post! :D

1 comment:

  1. Rex Harrison played Henry Higgins in the stage production of My Fair Lady, and was so popular he was asked to reprise the role for the film. The talk-for-singing style was kind of a thing back then -- you'll find Richard Burton (stage) and Richard Harris (movie) doing that for the role of King Arthur in Camelot too. It probably has its roots in the recitative portions of opera, but if you're expecting songs to be sung, I can see how it would be jarring. Mostly I like that it allows people who are fantastic actors, but not necessarily great singers, to play roles like this.


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