Top 100 Movie Review: #91 – My Fair Lady (1964)

Repetitive & Disappointing

Songs are good but repeated ad nauseam while missing on an amazing chance to make a statement. 

screenshot5American Film Institutes Ranking: #91
Academy Awards: Nominated 12 and won eight including Best Picture, Director, & Actor
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I have two problems with this film.

The first is with the musical pieces: they seem to be more like fragments. Putting together a good, catchy stanza is a start, but then repeating it ad nauseum doesn’t quite cut it. Second, the story should come off better than it does, a common lady trained to upper class, but Henry Higgin’s character is unredeemable — he’s a jerk.

Put them together and you end up with a film that tests your patience.

my_fair_lady_-_h_-_1964

[story/spoilers.]

Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Rexerson) is a scholar of linguistics. Just by listening to someone’s speech, he can pinpoint down to the street where they were raised. He takes a bet with his fellow colleague Hugh Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White) that he could teach a common girl, Eliza Doolittle (Audry Hepburn), to speak with perfect speech.

After a bootcamp of speech therapy, Eliza transforms her talking into upper-class English. They take her through a trial run at a horse race, and while she starts dashingly, she ends up sliding back into her cockney accent. Next comes the real event: a ball with royalty. She passes with flying colors, tricking a fellow linguistic colleague into thinking she was actually of royal blood.

No one acknowledges Eliza’s hard work during this, so she decides to leave Henry, who then decides he actually likes having her around. She eventually returns to him, where he quickly returns to his domineering ways, requesting she bring him his slippers.

mfl-the-study

[analysis.]

The worst part of this movie is Henry Higgins. He starts as a jerk and grows into something more unbearable by the end. A simple fix for this would to have him grow — you know, character development? — or not get the girl, but instead he continues doing what he’s always done and still gets the reward.

The ending of the film is cringe worthy. After trying to hunt for Eliza, disappointed and lonely listening to her voice on a record, she returns back to him. He immediately sits down and requests his slippers. He’s a mysognist, egotistical partner, and I would not want anyone to have to deal with him in a relationship.

This in turn destroys the character development of Eliza. Starting as an unconfident, poor flower girl, she gains confidence in her worth. When she tries to return to her previous life after leaving Henry, she realizes she doesn’t belong there. This could have been an awesome film on the testament of how language dictates how we view people.

It all gets ruined by the characterization.

This is even without going into the repetitive lyrics of any of the songs.

[conclusion.]

This film really missed the boat. It could have been an amazing testament to the power of language and the growth of two people from different classes shedding those prejudices. Instead, it ended up being about a girl crawling back to an unworthy man that made it complete cringe. Pair that with the repetitive songs and the movie becomes a tedious chore.

Other People’s Takes:

  • Bill’s Movie Emporium: There are moments when My Fair Lady plays like the greatest of all musicals, with wit, charm and an underlying darkness to it all. There are also moments where My Fair Lady loses its way and gets lost in its bloated nature.”
  • Maddy Loves Her Classic Film: “My Fair Lady is a real treat for fans of musicals.”
  • Wanderlust: “I would rate this old classic from a young generations POV 6/10.”

 

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

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