This is the final review Bryant Frazer wrote for FILM FREAK CENTRAL before he passed away. It's technically a work-in-progress, but I don't think its publication is anything to be embarrassed about. For what it's worth, Bryant neglected to provide a star rating or grades for the audio, video, and extra features, so I've left them off rather than attempt to second-guess him. As our own Walter Chaw poetically put it to me, "His last act was not an act of judgment."-Ed.
starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Theodore Bikel
screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner, based upon the musical play as produced on the stage by Herman Levin, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, from a play by Bernard Shaw
directed by George Cukor
by Bryant Frazer My Fair Lady opens, provocatively enough, at a performance of Gounod's operatic adaptation of Faust, that ageless drama of unforeseen consequences. As in the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion, on which My Fair Lady is based, the role of the Devil is filled by Dr. Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison), a linguist who loudly (and rudely) laments the Cockney patois spoken by the lower classes. Drawing his attention is a wary flower girl named Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn), a London-born-and-bred Faust who's intrigued by Higgins's boast that, through speech training alone, he can elevate her from working-poor status into a new position as society maven. The drama pivots around that transformation: Hepburn moves into Higgins's spacious home for the duration of her schooling, with an upcoming embassy ball--where Higgins hopes to debut his newly cultured creation--imposing a deadline on his project. Surrounding them are a variety of colourful characters, such as Higgins's sponsor, Colonel Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White), Hungarian language scholar Zoltan Karpathy (Theodore Bikel), and Eliza's father, Alfred (Stanley Holloway), whose big pre-wedding number, which includes the immortal turn of phrase "Girls come and kiss me / Show how you'll miss me / But get me to the church on time," is a highlight of the film's otherwise logy second act.