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My Fair Lady (SE)
DVD disk
10.06.2004 By: Indiana Sev
My Fair Lady (SE) order
Director:
George Cukor

Actors:
Audrey Hepburn
Rex Harrison
Stanley Holloway

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Confirmed bachelor and phonetics professor, Henry Higgins (Harrison) makes a bet with a visiting friend that he can transform, in a few short months, a Cockney-speaking flower girl from the streets, Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn), into a sophisticated lady with a distinctive background at an upcoming high society event. But can this stubborn and seemingly emotionless man pull it off without letting himself be transformed a little in the process?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This is the first Audrey Hepburn movie I ever saw and I was so hypnotized by her presence and performance that I consequently rented and bought all her films and thus became a devoted fan for life. Audrey can pretty much do that to any living human being. Just plop yourself down and watch any of her movies and you’ll be hooked. She is so utterly charming, believable and funny (her “ouch’s!!!” in this film are priceless) in MY FAIR LADY that you’ll quickly forget you’re watching a movie and just lose yourself in all of the splendor and magic she brings to the screen. Rex Harrison (who deservedly won the Oscar for his role) is also a great pleasure to watch as he jumps from intense feelings of frustration and jubilation to total confusion and despair. It’s a real treat to watch all the pros in this movie at work. Rex and Audrey are also greatly supported by actors Wilfrid Hyde-White (Colonel Pickering) and Stanley Holloway (Alfred Doolitttle). A truly incredible cast here!

Although this movie won the Best Picture Oscar in 1964, it’s certainly not without a few minor flaws. There are a few scenes that are unnecessarily overlong and shot just for “effect” rather than to move the story along. Still, most of the direction keeps things very lively and so if you’re trying to hook someone on to musicals, you can do much worse than recommending MY FAIR LADY. The truth is, after seeing Audrey dance and sing (although her voice was dubbed) to “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”, you’d have to be a robot to not have a huge smile on your face by the end of it all. Harrison’s rendition of “Hymn to Him (Why Can’t A Woman)” is another stand out among all the great songs in this film. This definitely isn’t the best musical of all-time, but it’s certainly one of the more magical ones - a film that you soon won’t forget.
THE EXTRAS
This is a Two-Disc Special Edition DVD with a high definition transfer from the 1994 restoration picture and sound elements.

Audio Commentary: The commentary track includes art director Gene Allen, singer Marni Nixon and film restorers Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz. For any Audrey-phile, this is gold! The majority of the Audrey Hepburn DVD’s I own don’t have any kind of audio commentary at all; so I took advantage and just absorbed every little thing tidbit I could from this one. With four people discussing the film, there is just all the more to learn. The big controversy at the time was Hepburn not singing the actual songs in the film, so Nixon’s comments are especially enlightening in that respect.

Documentary - More Loverly Than Ever: The Making of My Fair Lady - Then and Now (approx. 57 min.): Everybody gets in on this and shares their love and passion for the film. Film historians, composers, film directors, actors and singers from the film, all provide great contributions to this documentary. It’s obscene how brilliant and entertaining this is. It has everything and anything you’d want an in-depth behind-the-scenes feature to have. From the roots of the film (the play Pygmalion) to the disaster that led to it being lost forever, this is a fascinating look into the whole world of MY FAIR LADY. From beginning to end, you’ll discover what led this movie to be one of the most successful and loved musicals of all-time.

The Production:

1963 Production Kickoff Dinner: Some classic footage of Hepburn, Harrison et al. in interviews right before the shooting of the film began. Another wonderful addition…

Audio of George Cukor directing Baroness Bina Rothschild: This features just an audio track of director Cukor directing one of the actresses in the ballroom scene. A little bit of insight into the director’s methods and temperament.

Audrey Hepburn’s Vocals: Audrey’s original vocals on “Wouldn’t it be Loverly?” and “Show Me” = Heaven.

Show Me Galleries: A great array of elaborate galleries for sketches, black & white production stills, color production stills as well as documents and publicity. More and more valuable insight into this musical.

Posters & Lobby Cards w/ Rex Harrison Radio Interview: It’s always fun to hear Harrison speak. Still, this is hardly an interview, just a few seconds of Harrison going on about working on the film and his experience acting alongside the fair lady in question (he manages to dish out some pretty great praise). His vocals are accompanied by backgrounds of the film’s poster publicity.

The Fairest Fair Lady: This is a fairly short Movie-tone type presentation of the film to whet audiences’ appetites, complete with cheesy dated narration. Still, it’s got some damn good behind-the-scenes footage and movie facts.

L.A. Premiere Footage: More classic archival footage, this time at the premiere of MY FAIR LADY in Hollywood. It’s really fun seeing most of the big stars from that era (i.e. my hero Steve McQueen) showing up on the red carpet. I’m a sucker for this type of black & white nostalgic golden era footage, so this was a very entertaining watch for me.

The Awards:

Rex Harrison’s Golden Globe Acceptance Speech: Harrison was a no-show at the Globes. This speech is done from a chair in his trailer or something. It’s very short, but has one hell of an ending!

37th Academy Awards: Jack Warner and his impressive 24-second acceptance speech after winning for Best Picture. Today’s producers should take note.

Awards: The long lists of awards the movie picked up at the Globes, the Oscars and from the New York Film Critics.

The Comments: The great Martin Scorsese and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber share their thoughts in separate interviews. Scorsese just talks a little about the film preservation society and his part in it and Webber gives a little anecdote about once working with Alan Jay Lerner. This is very short and with no insight into the actual film itself.

The Trailers of Lerner & Loewe: Five trailers of Lerner and Loewe films.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
For anybody who has a “thing” for Audrey Hepburn, great musicals or just enjoys good old-fashioned top-notch feel-good movie entertainment, this restored film with its abundant extras should be the first thing on your DVD shopping list. For everybody else, it’s a definite rental and will most likely find a place on your DVD shelf soon after you view it. Then you can buy BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, ROMAN HOLIDAY, CHARADE…
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