“This writing of plays is a great matter, forming as it does the minds and affections of men in such sort that whatsoever they see done in show on the stage, they will presently be doing in earnest in the world, which is but a larger stage.” —George Bernard Shaw.
Call this my attempt at improving the culture. I am under no illusion that it might succeed.
While any and all of my comrades in cootdom are welcome to come along for the ride, I would presume to address this to members of what are to us the younger generations: Do yourselves a favor, kids. The next time you are flipping through TV channels and you stumble across a movie titled “My Fair Lady,” invest three hours of your life in watching it.
Yeah, I know, it sounds both dorky and dreadful, but it is neither. Besides, you have wasted three hours of your lives on considerably less (all contemporary music and slasher films, as examples), and should you someday find yourself in the company of one of us older folks who makes a reference to “Henry Higgins” or “Eliza Doolittle,” you would not be forced to sit there, simply sporting the blank stare all too commonly associated with the illiterate and ill-bred.
If that matters, of course.
So what is “My Fair Lady?”
Well, it is a movie that is actually a rip-off of a long-running Broadway play by the same name, which is itself, a ripoff of another play, “Pygmalion,” written by the witty English chap quoted above. Oh, and by the way, just so that you might avoid another of those tacky cultural pitfalls, that chap’s name is properly pronounced George BERnard Shaw, with the emphasis on the BER, not the NARD.
So what’s it about? Well, think “Cinderella,” only without evil stepsisters, fairy godmothers and the mice-and-carriage bit. But it is not really a “chick flick.” In fact, the above-referenced Professor Higgins, a confirmed bachelor, musically warns one and all quite convincingly against allowing “a woman in your life.”
Of course, that was before that good professor, played perfectly by Rex Harrison, dolefully comes to discover he’s quite hopelessly fallen for the flower girl turned English lady, played stunningly by Audrey Hepburn.
And yes, it is a musical, but so is “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and you’d pause to watch it.
The music in this one was written by a couple of guys named Lerner and Lowe, who believe it or not, were once as famous as Lennon and McCartney, and both duos did a pretty fair job of combining lyrics and notes.
And no, “My Fair Lady” is not the offering of some pseudo-rhyming joker who can’t spell, but I somehow find “I’ve grown accustomed to your face, like breathing out and breathing in...” to be a more endearing and enduring sentiment than such lyrical references as are blared much too loudly from cars today.
Call me funny like that.
And I do think, at the very least, you would find “My Fair Lady” to be different from most other movies you have experienced. There’s no cussin’—except that which one can creatively do without profanity; there’s no blood and nobody gets naked and wiggles around—a fact which you might find curiously offset by the fact that Audrey Hepburn, fully clothed in an evening dress that shows nothing but her elegance, just might be the most painfully beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.
So all that said, why should you, the perfectly contented in not yet being an old person, take the advice that this old person is offering you?
Well, because most other folks won’t, that’s why.
There are times, young men and ladies, when you really do want to stand out from all your contemporaries. There are people you might want to impress, some of whom are offering the sorts of jobs you might like to have.
And because, like it or not, fair or not, this world still draws lines, makes distinctions on matters of culture, and whether you know it or not, you really don’t want to find yourself on the wrong sides of those lines when it comes to things like class and taste.
So will watching “My Fair Lady” give you adequate doses of class and taste?
No, but it’s a start. It’s a start.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.