Pygmalion with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller.  Phoneticist Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard) makes a bet that he can teach a poor flower girl (Wendy Hiller) to speak English properly enough to pass her off as a Duchess at the Embassy Ball.

My Fair Lady is a musical version of this movie (actually the play upon which the film version of My Fair Lady is based is based on both the play and film versions of Pygmalion). When I first saw Pygmalion I was amazed at how much of the dialog was identical that in My Fair Lady.  I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Since I was already such an admirer of My Fair Lady pretty much all I can do is compare this movie to that one.  Pygmalion was nominated for several Oscars, but won only for Best Screenplay.  My Fair Lady was nominated for twelve and won eight. The big addition that the movie Pygmalion made to the play was the addition of the Embassy Ball scene.  My Fair Lady adds the songs and substitutes the terrific Ascot racetrack scene for a scene at Mrs Higgins' house.

I think with stage productions you often get the chance to see the same role reinterpreted by different actors, but you don't often get that opportunity with movies.  I think the great risk My Fair Lady took was in changing so little, and it really paid off.

"Buy a flower off a poor girl?"

Eliza at the Embassy Ball


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