The Trouble With My Fair Lady

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Having destroyed You’ve Got Mail last week by pointing out the ramifications to the movie plot had some other jerk been Meg Ryan’s online pen pal, we must move on to the classic musical My Fair Lady. There is no need to discuss the story line as picking up flower girls, taking them home, giving them a bath and introducing them to the Duchess of Transylvania or some other godforsaken place, since stuff like that is an everyday occurrence in England.

That very thing happened to a war bride I met at the Legion. She remembers something about a bathtub but there was gin in it and although she didn’t meet a duchess, she did meet three sailors in a pub and unfortunately married one. The marriage was declared invalid shortly after they arrived in Canada when it was discovered the Archbishop of Canterbury, who performed the ceremony was in fact the owner of the very pub where they met and it was his homemade gin she had bathed in. They used it anyway and there were few complaints although one of the patrons claimed he found a toenail in his gin and tonic. The next afternoon everyone wanted one.

The My fair Lady screenplay was loosely taken from a 1938 movie, Pygmalion starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller. Wendy later won an Academy Award for her role as Alice, Sir Thomas More’s missus, in A Man For All Seasons which I found remarkable since she wasn’t all that good looking.

George Bernard Shaw wrote the play, one of sixty, and was awarded the 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, an award for which I have never even been nominated which I find somewhat insulting, but he will forever be remembered for saying, I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty and besides, the pig likes it.

That line has nothing to do with Pygmalion, My Fair Lady, or this column, I just thought it was funny and needed to stick it in somewhere.

But as I was saying before my mind wandered, as it often does, did you notice anything odd about the movie, My Fair Lady? Now think about this for a minute. Here we have two well-to-do English gentlemen, one, Col. Hugh Pickering,  (Wilfred Hyde-White) is an old geezer and the other, Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) we will be kind and say he is middle aged and that is giving him a bit of leeway, about twenty-five years of leeway now that I think about it.

They take in Eliza Doolittle, (Audrey Hepburn) and after weeks of brow-beating, harassment and mental abuse, make her into an astonishingly charming and cultured young lady who even knows when it rains in Spain and she has never even been there. I find that remarkable since I have to phone my son in Barrie to see if I should wear a warm jacket if we are going to his house.

Did it not occur to these two bozos that possibly one of, if not the most beautiful woman in England is living in the same house? We can understand Col. Pickering because he is getting up there and most men lose all interest in sex after the age of 38,   or 39 if they are lucky and can get Viagra on their drug plan,  but ‘enry ‘iggins is supposed to be younger and at least close to being sane. All he can think of to do with Eliza is use her as a slipper-fetcher. He has a houseful of servants; any one of them could do that. Why do they need that many servants anyway? Two old farts, living alone, how dirty can a house get? There is something odd about these two guys that I won’t comment on since we don’t want the house picketed by the rainbow flag people. 

As you no doubt expected, they take all the credit for making her into a lady, which, now that I think about it, they did. I have no idea what she was crabbing about.

She leaves in a snit, or carriage, and goes to his mother’s house which I thought was an odd place to go, but who cares what I think?

Suddenly, well not suddenly really, but after a few hours ‘henry realizes he misses her, finds her at his mother’s place, returns home alone, and sings, ‘I’ve grown a costume on her face.’

She comes back. He is secretly overjoyed but instead of taking her upstairs like a normal person sends her to get those damned slippers. I hate to say this but ‘henry ‘iggins is badly in need of a psychiatric assessment and after reading this so do I.

(Image Supplied)

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