My Fair Lady [Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn]

My Fair Lady (1964) starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Jeremy Brett

My Fair Lady (1964) starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison

Synopsis of My Fair Lady

Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady is the tale of a Cockney flower girl becoming the belle of British society. She’s transformed by a strict phonetics expert … who starts to fall in love with her. And, despite his character flaws, she begins to fall in love with him as well. But their relationship is threatened by an aristocratic suitor, closer to Eliza’s age …

Cast of characters

Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady
  • Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina) as Eliza Doolittle. She’s a a Cockney flower girl, who comes to Professor Henry Higgins asking for elocution lessons. Higgins goes along with it for the purposes of a wager with Pickering: That he can turn her into the toast of elite London society
  • \Rex Harrison (Doctor Doolittle) as Professor Henry Higgins. A pompous, brusque man, older than Eliza, who’s dismissive and belittling. Not only to Eliza, but to everyone. However, he’s an expert in phonetics, and after she overhears him boasting on the street, she contacts him. He’s boasted that he could turn that cockney flower girl into a lady in a short time. And she has dreams of being more in life …
  • Stanley Holloway as Alfred P. Doolittle. A lower class man, Eliza’s father. Referring to him as “lazy” would be a compliment. Oddly, a likable fellow. “With a little bit o’ luck” …
  • Wilfrid Hyde-White (Chamber of Horrors) as Colonel Hugh Pickering. Another phonetics expert, who’s come from India to meet Higgins. An older fellow, very kind and likable.
  • Gladys Cooper (Separate Tables) as Mrs. Higgins. The professor’s mother. A true English lady – who’s kind, well-mannered, and treats Eliza as a lady. Even when she knows that she isn’t.
  • Jeremy Brett (Hands of the Ripper) as Freddy Eynsford-Hill. A young man, who becomes infatuated with the transformed Eliza. She doesn’t return his affections, but at least they’re the same age …
  • Theodore Bikel as Zoltan Karpathy. A Hungarian phonetics expert trained by Higgins. After dancing with Eliza, he declares her a Hungarian princess
  • Mona Washbourne as Mrs. Pearce, Higgins’ housekeeper.

Uncredited characters

Songs

  1. Why Can’t the English Learn to Speak? – performed by Rex Harrison, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Audrey Hepburn
  2. Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? – performed by Audrey Hepburn (dubbed by Marni Nixon) and chorus
  3. An Ordinary Man – performed by Rex Harrison
  4. With a Little Bit of Luck – performed by Stanley Holloway, John Alderson, John McLiam, and chorus
  5. Just You Wait – sung by Audrey Hepburn (partially dubbed by Nixon) and Charles Fredericks
  6. Servants Chorus – sung by Mona Washbourne and chorus
  7. The Rain in Spain – performed by Rex Harrison, Wilfrid Hyde-White, and Audrey Hepburn (partially dubbed by Nixon)
  8. I Could Have Danced All Night – performed by Audrey Hepburn (dubbed by Nixon), Mona Washbourne and chorus
  9. Ascot Gavotte – sung by chorus
  10. On the Street Where You Live – sung by Jeremy Brett (dubbed by Bill Shirley)
  11. You Did It – performed by Rex Harrison, Wilfrid Hyde-White, and chorus
  12. Show Me – performed by Audrey Hepburn (dubbed by Marni Nixon) and Jeremy Brett (dubbed by Shirley)
  13. Get Me to the Church on Time – performed by Stanley Holloway, John Alderson, John McLiam, and chorus
  14. A Hymn to Him (Why Can’t A Woman Be More Like a Man?) – performed by Rex Harrison and Wilfrid Hyde-White
  15. Without You – performed by Audrey Hepburn (dubbed by Nixon) and Rex Harrison
  16. I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face – performed by Rex Harrison

Editorial review of My Fair Lady

Wilfrid Hyde-White as Colonel Hugh Pickering in My Fair Lady

Hollywood’s legendary “woman’s director,” George Cukor (The WomenThe Philadelphia Story), transformed Audrey Hepburn into street-urchin-turned-proper-lady Eliza Doolittle in this film version of the Lerner and Loewe musical. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s play PygmalionMy Fair Lady stars Rex Harrison as linguist Henry Higgins (Harrison also played the role, opposite Julie Andrews, on stage), who draws Eliza into a social experiment that works almost too well.

The letterbox edition of this film on video certainly pays tribute to the pageantry of Cukor’s set, but it also underscores a certain visual stiffness that can slow viewer enthusiasm just a tad. But it’s really star wattage that keeps this film exciting, that and such great songs as “On the Street Where You Live” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Actor Jeremy Brett, who gained a huge following later in life portraying Sherlock Holmes, is quite electric as Eliza’s determined suitor. –Tom Keogh

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