My Fair Lady

  • Directors: George Cukor
  • Producers: Jack L Warner
  • Writers: Alan Jay Lerner, George Bernard Shaw
  • Genres: Drama, Family, Musical, Romance
  • Actors: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Jeremy Brett

In London, Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison), an arrogant, irascible, misogynistic professor of phonetics, believes that it is the accent and the tone of one’s voice which determines a person’s prospects in society. He boasts to a new acquaintance, Colonel Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White), himself an expert in phonetics, that he can teach any woman to speak so “properly” that he could pass her off as a duchess at an embassy ball, even Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn), a young flower seller with a strong Cockney accent.

Eliza goes to Higgins’ house and offers to pay for speech lessons. Her great ambition is to work in a flower shop, but her thick working-class accent makes her unsuitable for such a position. All she can afford to pay is a shilling per lesson. Pickering, who is staying with Higgins, is intrigued by the idea and bets Higgins all the expenses that he will not be able to do it. Higgins accepts.

Eliza’s father, Alfred P. Doolittle (Stanley Holloway), a dustman, arrives three days later, ostensibly to protect his daughter’s virtue, but in reality simply to extract some money from Higgins, and is bought off with £5. Higgins is impressed by the man’s genuineness, his natural gift for language, and especially his brazen lack of morals (Doolittle explains, “Can’t afford ’em!”).

Higgins makes his way home, stubbornly predicting that Eliza will be ruined without him and come crawling back. However, his bravado collapses and he comes to the horrified realization that he has “grown accustomed to her face”. He is reduced to playing an old phonograph recording of her voice lessons. Then, to his great delight, Eliza returns.

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