My Fair Lady is the famed musical version of Pygmalion, but both films have garnered their share of praise. (SPOILERS)
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Pygmalion (1938) vs. My Fair Lady (1964)
The rap sheet.
Pygmalion has a 94% rating on RottenTomatoes.com. It received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Writing, Screenplay (which it won). My Fair Lady has a 95% rating on RottenTomatoes.com. It won 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.Winner: My Fair Lady
In My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) makes a bet that he can pass a young Cockney woman named Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) off as a sophisticated lady to society. In Pygmalion, the setup is the same, except for the actors (Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller) and, of course, the lack of musical numbers.Winner: My Fair Lady
|My Fair Lady|
Naturally, both films are somewhat even in their execution. Pygmalion is full of wit, playing on the friction between Higgins and Doolittle. My Fair Lady relies on this too, but it also uses songs to great effect.Winner: My Fair Lady
In My Fair Lady, Eliza chooses to stay with the professor after some conflict that follows the bet. In Pygmalion, the bet is won, conflict arises, and Eliza ends up staying with Henry. Since they are the same endings, I'll give Pygmalion points for being the first to do it.Winner: Pygmalion
The wild card.
Pygmalion features Wilfrid Lawson (who appeared in Room at the Top and Tom Jones) as Eliza's father. My Fair Lady features the great Stanley Holloway in an Oscar-nominated, scene-stealing performance as her father. Both films make good use of the character, but one does it better.Winner: My Fair Lady
Winner: My Fair Lady beats Pygmalion 4-1
Ratings, by the way: Pygmalion - ***1/2, My Fair Lady - ***
Note: This is the first time a film with a lower rating has won.