Friday, April 18, 2008


Here's another great film I just watched from The Criterion Collection.
Pygmalion is the original story on which My Fair Lady is based.
George Bernard Shaw wrote this screenplay, from his own very
successful stage play of 1913 and won an Academy Award for his
efforts in 1938. A young David Lean, one of my personal favorites,
did the editing. This wonderful film has been completely
overshadowed by the candy coated Lerner and Loewe musical
production. The debonair Leslie Howard is perfect in the role of the
delightfully cynical Henry Higgins, even if not as cuddly as Rex
Harrison. And as much as Audry Hepburn is a joy to watch on
screen, she is completely left in the dust by the fabulous young
Wendy Hiller, personally chosen by Shaw, who exudes an
incomparable combination of earthiness and sophistication. This
film is over 60 years old and it is completely entertaining, far
outmatching its 1964 remake. As always, The Criterion Collection
holds up to its reputation with a luminous restored digital transfer.
I loved this one so much I had to have it for my personal collection!

Oh, BTW, as an interesting aside, Pygmalion was the first British
film to use the word "bloody" in its dialogue.


  1. Thank you for reminding me of this one Willow, it's been ages since I saw it, I am due for another viewing. I so agree with this post. The two leads are far more age-appropriate as well to Shaw's original intention. Are there some lovely extra features on this? There is usually at least one fantastic essay on the making of it on this series. I love Criterion!!!

  2. Thank you for posting this. I haven't seen this so it sounds like a great Netflix order. Wasn't Leslie Howard an amazing actor? It's no wonder Viven Leigh was so enchanted by him.

  3. Willow...You are a complete power house of knowledge of perfectly wonderful things to read and see. Enjoying old movies as I do, I so want to see this one as well. This Criterion collection I must look into :)

  4. Hi Willow,

    I wasn't aware of this earlier version of My Fair Lady. I love the Audrey Hepburn movie, but I love her in anything she does. I am intrigued and hope to have a gander at this one. Leslie Howard was so unique, he was amazing as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind.

    "Oh Ashley, Ashley, you do love me!"

    (I can hear that in my mind as Scarlett gazes desperately at him...)


  5. Interesting cast of people in the film. And interested to see that David Lean was involved too. Interesting post!

  6. By the way, Willow, did you ever see this performed onstage?

  7. High schools perform this play a lot, but I've never seen a live production.

  8. You may have talked about this before but what is the The Criterion Collection? Remastered films?

    You have seen so many classics that I have never heard of. Sometime you should give us a list of your must see movie classics.

    I've never been a big fan of Peter Sellers but I made a note of his film you wrote about.

  9. Yes! The Criterion Collection is a privately held company that distributes authoritative consumer versions of "important classic and contemporary films" on DVD. (that's how Wiki describes it)

    It's a wonderful collection of classic remastered films. That's a great idea...I'll have to work on compiling a list! Since WT travels much of the time and the kids are gone, I have many nights to myself and have become quite the film buff. ;)

  10. This is a must see for me. I've never seen it. Wendy Hiller is beautiful here. I've only seen her superb acting in her later years as in "Anne of Green Gables". Thanks for posting this.

  11. Okay, so we DEFINITELY have similar interests - I have a Pygmalion post coming up in a few days.

    I'm a big Shaw fan - and I was amazed to find out recently that Rex Harrison (aka 'Enry 'Iggins) is Canadian and not English as I always thought he was!!

  12. David, oh fun...I'll be looking forward to your Pyg post!

  13. ooo, I want to see this! Thanks for pointing it out, your blog is such a fascinating education. I originally came here from your comments at ModObject.

    Wendy Hiller, I was puzzling ...where have I recently watched her? ...BINGO. The elderly 'princess' in Murder On The Orient Express', 1970s! She was wonderful in that tiny role. Now must see her in her prime.

    deb meyers


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― O. Henry (and me)