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My Fair Lady
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Fair Lady is an entertaining musical for all ages, though it may be too long (almost three hours) for the youngest kids. It's a biting satire that treats both the most egotistical snob and the "lowliest" street person with gentle humor and respect. It’s also a romantic story without even a kiss. There are no villains; there's no violence (a few references to beating a woman for misbehaving are intended to be humorous). With the exception of one "ass" and a couple of "damns," there's no iffy language, either. A few scenes depict moderate drinking on social occasions, there's one shot of a tipsy bridegroom on the way to his wedding, and one main character smokes a cigar.
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What's the story?
In MY FAIR LADY, Audrey Hepburn stars as Eliza Doolittle in director George Cukor's adaptation of the Broadway musical based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion. In 1912 London, cockney street peddler Eliza is handpicked by linguistics professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) on a bet that he can reshape her into an aristocrat. Higgins has his work cut out for him -- Eliza turns out to be quite the spitfire. As he struggles to teach her how to speak, walk, and behave like a proper lady, his friend Colonel Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White) sits back and enjoys the wild ride. Eliza's ultimate transformation is spectacular, and even Higgins is surprised by how she handles herself at upper-crust gatherings. He's also surprised at how he himself is transformed when it comes to his feelings for his fetching protege. With music and lyrics by Lerner and Loewe, this film is truly a classic.
Is it any good?
With witty songwriting, comical and charismatic performances by the two leads, and lush costumes and sets, this classic musical still engages decades after its initial release. Hepburn's unique comic flair is especially effective in the race scene at Ascot.
My Fair Lady delights viewers of all ages, although some might grow weary of a few songs that stay a verse or two past their welcome. The DVD special features offer an insight into how this classic might have been even better: Compare the versions of "Show Me" and "Loverly" originally sung by Hepburn with the final film's dubbing of Marni Nixon's impersonal soprano. You'll rue the studio's decision not to leave Hepburn's sweeter, more urchinesque voice on these tracks.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of social class. How have things changed since the time in which My Fair Lady was set?
How does the movie portray drinking? Are viewers supposed to get a specific take-away from that?
How do you think Eliza feels about Professor Higgins in the end?
- In theaters: December 25, 1964
- On DVD or streaming: October 6, 2009
- Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Wilfrid Hyde-White
- Director: George Cukor
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Musical
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Music and Sing-Along
- Character Strengths: Humility, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control
- Run time: 172 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.