My Fair Lady (film)

My Fair Lady
My fair lady poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Bill Gold;
original illustration by Bob Peak
Directed byGeorge Cukor
Produced byJack L. Warner
Screenplay byAlan Jay Lerner
Based on
Starring
Music by
CinematographyHarry Stradling
Edited byWilliam H. Ziegler
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures[a]
Release date
  • October 21, 1964 (1964-10-21)[2]
Running time
170 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$17 million[2]
Box office$72 million[2]

My Fair Lady is a 1964 American musical drama film adapted from the Lerner and Loewe eponymous stage musical based on the 1913 stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. With a screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner and directed by George Cukor, the film depicts a poor Cockney flower seller named Eliza Doolittle who overhears an arrogant phonetics professor, Henry Higgins, as he casually wagers that he could teach her to speak "proper" English, thereby making her presentable in the high society of Edwardian London.

The film stars Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins, with Stanley Holloway, Gladys Cooper and Wilfrid Hyde-White in supporting roles. A critical and commercial success, it won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.[4] In 1998, the American Film Institute named it the 91st greatest American film of all time.

In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Plot

In London, Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison), a scholar of phonetics, believes that the accent and tone of one's voice determines a person's prospects in society ("Why Can't the English?"). At Covent Garden one evening, he meets Colonel Hugh Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White), himself a phonetics expert who had come all the way from India to see him. Higgins boasts he could teach anyone to speak so well he could pass them off as a duke or duchess at an embassy ball, even the young woman with a strong Cockney accent named Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) who tries to sell them flowers. Eliza's ambition is to work in a flower shop, but her accent makes that impossible ("Wouldn't It Be Loverly"). The following morning, Eliza shows up at Higgins' home, seeking lessons. Pickering is intrigued and offers to cover all the attendant expenses if Higgins succeeds. Higgins agrees, and describes how women ruin lives ("I'm an Ordinary Man").

Eliza's father, Alfred P. Doolittle (Stanley Holloway), a dustman, learns of his daughter's new residence ("With a Little Bit of Luck"). He shows up at Higgins' house three days later, ostensibly to protect his daughter's virtue, but in reality simply to extract some money from Higgins, and is bought off with £5. Higgins is impressed by the man's honesty, his natural gift for language, and especially his brazen lack of morals. Higgins recommends Alfred to a wealthy American who is interested in morality.

Eliza endures Higgins' demanding teaching methods and treatment of her personally ("Just You Wait"). She makes little progress, but just as she, Higgins, and Pickering are about to give up, Eliza finally "gets it" ("The Rain in Spain"); she instantly begins to speak with an impeccable upper class accent ("I Could Have Danced All Night").

As a trial run, Higgins takes her to Ascot Racecourse ("Ascot Gavotte"), where she makes a good impression initially, only to shock everyone by a sudden lapse into vulgar Cockney while cheering on a horse. Higgins partly conceals a grin behind his hand. At Ascot, she meets Freddy Eynsford-Hill (Jeremy Brett), a young, upper-class man who becomes infatuated with her ("On the Street Where You Live"). Higgins then takes Eliza to an embassy ball for the final test, where she dances with a foreign prince. Zoltan Karpathy (Theodore Bikel), a Hungarian phonetics expert trained by Higgins, converses briefly with Eliza, then certifies that she is not only Hungarian, but a princess.

However, Eliza's hard work is barely acknowledged, with all the praise going to Higgins ("You Did It"). This and his callous treatment towards her afterwards, especially his indifference to her future, causes her to walk out on him, leaving him mystified by her ingratitude ("Just You Wait (Reprise)"). Outside, Freddy is still waiting ("On the Street Where You Live (Reprise)"), and greets Eliza, who is irritated by him as all he does is talk ("Show Me"). Eliza tries to return to her old life, but finds that she no longer fits in. She meets her father, who has been left a large fortune by the wealthy American to whom Higgins had recommended him, and is resigned to marrying Eliza's stepmother. Alfred feels that Higgins has ruined him, lamenting that he is now bound by "middle-class morality" ("Get Me to the Church On Time"). Eliza eventually ends up visiting Higgins' mother (Gladys Cooper), who is outraged at her son's callous behaviour.

The next day, Higgins finds Eliza gone and searches for her ("A Hymn to Him"), eventually finding her at his mother's house. Higgins attempts to talk Eliza into coming back to him. He becomes angered when she announces that she is going to marry Freddy and become Karpathy's assistant ("Without You"). He makes his way home, stubbornly predicting that she will come crawling back. However, he comes to the unsettling realization that she has become an important part of his life ("I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"). As he listens to a recording of Eliza's voice, she reappears in the doorway behind him, turning off the recording and saying in her old Cockney accent, "I washed my hands and face before I come, I did." Higgins looks surprised, then pleased, before asking where his slippers are.

Other Languages
Esperanto: My Fair Lady
euskara: My Fair Lady
Bahasa Indonesia: My Fair Lady (film)
magyar: My Fair Lady
македонски: Мојата убава дама
Bahasa Melayu: My Fair Lady (filem)
português: My Fair Lady
Simple English: My Fair Lady (movie)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: My Fair Lady (film)
粵語: 窈窕淑女