Watch List – My Fair Lady

5 Oct

We are still in mourning for the death of the video rental store. Here we’ll discuss the movies you can’t get from Redbox but need to find and watch/rewatch through any other means necessary.

Recently Polly lent Penny her much beloved copy of My Fair Lady. Penny loved it, which Polly knew would happen.

Polly: I adore this movie despite knowing that I ought to hate it for changing the ending from it’s predecessor, Pygmalion.

Penny: It changes the ending??? BUT but but. She has to end up with the Professor.

(Spoiler Alertz. ((Can you spoil a musical?)) Eliza Doolittle is an uneducated flower vendor and Professor Higgins is a professional master of snark. He makes a bet that he can transform her into a beacon of shining sophistication and pass her off as a duchess at a royal ball. After various twists and turns of fate, she is a success. But they fight a lot. She leaves. It looks like she might marry a puppy. In the end she goes back to him. He can’t find his slippers. The end.)

Polly: I know! That’s why I love it! Because all of the best love stories involve a certain degree of playful loathing. (Even Westley and Buttercup almost kill each other several times.) Eliza and Henry are The Best. But Pygmalion (the George Bernard Shaw play) is based on the only feminist myth ever.

  • Dude carves a statue
  • Dude falls in love with the statue
  • Magic grants his wish and makes the statue real
  • Since she is real and has a brain and a will she decides she doesn’t love him
  • Sucks for dude

Pygmalion is basically the exact same thing as My Fair Lady. Shaw was heavily involved in production, and most of the song lyrics came directly from the play’s dialogue. My Fair Lady wasn’t supposed to end with Eliza coming back. The director shot that scene in secret without consulting Shaw. GUESS WHO READS A LOT OF WIKIPEDIA?

Penny: And this is where I make the very controversial statement that Lerner and Lowe are SO MUCH BETTER than Rodgers and Hammerstein (not the Gershwin Bros., though) and it is sad that they are not household names. (But not for me when playing Trivial Pursuit! Ha. Mwahahaha. Suck it, Trivia Champ BIL.)

Polly: We should be on a Taboo team sometime. We’d dominate. Anyway, Lerner and Lowe’s Gigi makes me twitch a little. And my love for R&H will never fade.  I just have to pretend Oklahoma! never happened. (I still have nightmares about co-choreographing our high school production with Molly.) But My Fair Lady is definitely better in my (highly learned) opinion than most R&H shows.

Penny: We digress. Back to why MFL is The Best and everyone should find a video store and rent it immediately, then proceed to drunk order it off Amazon in the wee hours of the morning after a particularly disappointing evening spent trolling the bars.

Polly: Reason #1 I love this movie – it must have the highest insult-to-running-time ratio of any film ever. Eliza and Henry are better than any politician in the history of the world at slinging zingers. At least two songs are entirely uninterrupted strings of insults.

Penny: This dress. That hat. I can’t even. Really, ALL of the dresses and ALL of the hats. This movie puts the art in costume design, and someone obviously had a wonderful eye for color and detail. Down to putting poor Professor Higgins in brown at Ascot. (Which was so obviously last season. Jeesh.)  

Polly: And can we DISCUSS the bourgeois satire at the racetrack? CAN WE TALK ABOUT IT? (completely unenthused and monotone) “Pulses. rushing. Faces. flushing.” It is perfect. So high strung and reserved and British.

Penny: We can definitely talk about it if I can mention that I’m reading Snobs by Julian Fellowes currently (you know the guy who created Downton??) and it is wonderfully snarky – a brilliant novel of modern (British) manners (because we all know the Brits are the only ones with manners) featuring a Nick Carraway-esque narrator and a social climber who gets her comeuppance. Moving on.


Polly: Actually I’m not sure any discussion has to occur if we can watch this .gif on loop instead.

Penny: That pretty much covers it. Also, this has nothing to do with the music or the acting or… well, maybe a little with the acting, but it really REALLY bothered me that I could tell Audrey was lip synching. I mean, props to Marni Nixon because she is awesome, but I’m kinda excited for this “new” (read: actually old) thing they are trying with Les Mis where the actors actually sing on camera.

Polly: Ooh, I’m so glad to hear that! I’m always sad when beautiful A-list actors are cast with a singing dub. How can we beautiful nobodies ever get work?

Penny: We both have work.

Polly: Yeah but desk work. Not professional performing work. Because neither of us could handle a life of auditioning but we both know if professional singing could be something that happened 9-5 and involved a 401k we’d be the first in line at that HR open house.

Penny: There are days, Pol, when I consider busking. But then I remember how dirty Audrey is at the beginning of this movie.

Polly: Ahem, “washed her face and hands afore she came, she did.”

Penny: I’m not entirely certain that we’re being at all convincing re: our objective. Mainly to say that everyone who hasn’t seen this movie should run out and rent/buy it now. Perhaps we should just leave them with a song? (Also, I am so totally Henry. That last song. It’s me, every time I have a crush.)

Polly: I know you’re Henry! But I’d say you’re Henry because of this one, except sub man for woman. This song is why I sent you MFL in the first place.

“I’m a quiet living man,
who prefers to spend the evening in the silence of his room,
who likes an atmosphere as restful as
an undiscovered tomb.
A pensive man am I, of philosophical joys,
who likes to meditate, contemplate,
far from humanity’s mad inhuman noise.
Just a quiet living man.”

That is you. You are an old man professor.
If *I* were a man I would sing “On the Street Where You Live” all day, e’ry day.

Penny: <<Owns it>> I would definitely not mind having one of these. Over a cute dress with a belt and slouchy boots? Too cute. And too perfect for curling up in my leather armchair with a cup of tea, NPR and the crossword.

Polly: You don’t do the crossword.

Penny: I also don’t own a leather armchair.

Polly: Moral of the story, go find this movie and love it with us.


2 Responses to “Watch List – My Fair Lady”

  1. Andrew Lovgren October 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    A friend of mine (also male) introduced me to this movie saying it was his “favorite.” Though I was skeptical, it’s as good as advertised and will forever have a spot near the top of my all-time favorites.

    • Hippolyta (Polly) October 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      High five, Andrew! This is a film for all genders.

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