If you absolutely love the classic musical, My Fair Lady, I’m sorry, but we do not share that common interest. The annoying voice and exaggerated dialect of Miss Eliza drove me to scratching my ears off in the first act and by the ending act I was in bored agony, begging for the film to end. And it ended just as I suspected it would from the beginning of the action, boringly predictable. But please don’t let me ruin it for you, I’m just a sarcastic kid who’s never cared much for musicals.
The story begins with Eliza trying to sell her flowers to wealthy people waiting for taxis in the rain. Through her butchered English she’s discovered by phonetics professor Henry Higgins who boasts his qualities by saying that he could turn even a hopeless case like Eliza into a high class lady. Eliza tracks him down and wants him to give her speaking lessons so she can be a lady. Amused, Professor Higgins’s collogue, Colonel Pickering, decides to put a wager on the idea and together they try to turn a hopeless street peddler into a lady.
At the beginning Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) is as unrefined as they come. She walks with a slumped back, skitters along like an overgrown rat and sounds like a London hillbilly, if ever one existed. At first, it was fascinating, but after her third or so outburst that reminded me of a sick cat trying to imitate Lucille Ball’s crying, I was just waiting for the film to end. When she does start to speak correctly, it is welcomed by all. I personally breathed a sigh of relief at that moment.
Like most musicals, this movie is too damn long. If these people didn’t spend two hours singing we’d have a little bit of our lives back. And yes, some of these songs are classics, I even enjoy a few of them. But for the most part, I was checking my watch.
My favorite scene though, is at the horse race. Higgins decides it’s time to see how Eliza behaves in public and takes her to a party where everyone is dressed in white, black and gray. She behaves well, but the subjects of her stories are too interesting for such high society. It was the first genuine smile I had through the whole film. And when she has an outburst at the horse she’s holding a bet on, it’s hysterical and gave me a much welcomed laugh.
I really wish I had enjoyed My Fair Lady more. It won eight Oscars, including Best Picture. It is done very well and I’m sure it does its original play justice. It just hasn’t survived as well as its counterpart, Mary Poppins. Think about it, everyone knows Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, but not as many can sing I Could Have Danced All Night. Well, maybe it fares a better chance since being in an episode of Glee.
Watch My Fair Lady if you love musicals, phonetics or Audrey Hepburn talking funny.
“Come on, Dover, move yer bloomin’ arse!”