My Fair Lady

Movie review by
Peter Albert, Common Sense Media
My Fair Lady Movie Poster Image
Witty, stylish musical classic will entertain all ages.
  • G
  • 1964
  • 172 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 21 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Representation of early 20th-century England, with horse-drawn carriages, beautiful sets, and costumes. Eliza's transformation from street girl to "My Fair Lady" illustrates differences in English dialect and language usage, as well as generalized separation of the social classes.

Positive Messages

The movie draws a sharp, satirical contrast between Britain’s lower and upper classes in the early 1900s, then shows that even a "lowly," uneducated person can succeed given desire, persistence, and an education. At the same time, a well-bred member of the upper class -- an outspoken misogynist and elitist -- learns a lot about women, as well as about superficial appearance versus inner beauty (ultimately, the sexism that propels him is shown as a handicap). Also, true love can appear in the most unexpected places.

Positive Role Models & Representations

"Lowly" Eliza proves to be resilient, smart, and as worthy as London's upper crust. Professor Higgins -- who starts out as an egotistical, woman-hating professor -- learns a powerful lesson about treating people with compassion and humanity. Set in a class-conscious world, the story portrays almost everyone -- including servants, the poor, the educated, and the rich -- as deserving of dignity and capable of great joy. The one exception is Eliza's father, but even Alfie Doolittle, a hard-drinking, materialistic ne'er-do-well, redeems himself by the end. Characters learn and demonstrate humility, self-control, perseverance, and integrity.

Violence & Scariness

One humorous scene in which Eliza is forced against her will to bathe, probably for the very first time in her life. She howls and shrieks as she tries to avoid the bath, but the tone is comedic, not threatening. In one later scene, Eliza gets angry at Professor Higgins, throws his slippers at him, and raises a hand as if to strike him. Humorous references to beating a woman for misbehaving.

Sexy Stuff

A single use of "ass," and a few "damns" as an introduction to a song.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Eliza's father is referred to as a heavy drinker. Some drinking of wine or cocktails in social settings. Professor Higgins smokes a cigar. An exuberant scene in a pub shows characters toasting and drinking with whiskey, beer, etc. as they prepare to attend a wedding.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byVivreLAmour April 12, 2015

Atrocious! Why is this on the Top 10 family films list?

The official Common Sense Media review really let me down on this one.

Eliza develops the syndrome where women fall in love with a captor, and Prof. Higgins is... Continue reading
Parent of a 4, 6, and 8-year-old Written byspoko November 11, 2011

Very, very disappointing.

The description of this movie isn't entirely accurate. There certainly is a villain; it's just ironic that he's supposed to be the hero. Henry Hi... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byCorinneBeth June 14, 2009

Great Quality Film

There is quite a bit of language in this movie. Personally it doesn't bother me because it is the typical British language. Oh and there is a comment about... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old May 11, 2014

my fair lady

I think that the movie was really good but maybe Eliza's dad drank a bit too much, and the end was just absolutely stupid.

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?

  • How do the characters in My Fair Lady demonstrate perseverance and self-control? What about humility and integrity? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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