My Fair Lady: See why everyone was obsessed with this movie in 1964

Vintage My Fair Lady lobby card poster - 1964

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Behind the scenes of the My Fair Lady movie

My Fair Lady is one of those timeless movies from the 1960s that really made a mark in the industry. The journey from a hit Broadway show to a film classic is quite the story, filled with creative twists and big decisions.

My Fair Lady vintage movie poster at ClickAmericana com

How it all started

It began with George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play, Pygmalion. This story about class differences and personal transformation was brilliantly turned into a musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. When it hit Broadway in 1956, it was an immediate sensation, thanks to its clever lyrics and ever-so-catchy and memorable music.

When the time came to adapt the musical for the big screen, Warner Bros took the reins. Jack L. Warner was determined to replicate the stage success in cinemas, and the production team pulled out all the stops to make it happen.

My Fair Lady on Broadway in 1956 with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison

Making the movie

Casting for the film, especially for Eliza Doolittle, was a hot topic. Julie Andrews played the original Eliza on Broadway, but the film’s producers chose Breakfast at Tiffany’s star Audrey Hepburn for her star appeal, even though her singing ability was a point of concern.

Rex Harrison was brought over from the original stage production to reprise his role as Professor Henry Higgins, which was a smart move.

My Fair Lady
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • Audio CD – Audiobook
  • English (Publication Language)

The film’s production focused heavily on detail and authenticity. Cecil Beaton’s costume designs perfectly captured the Edwardian era, earning him an Academy Award. The set designs, especially for places like Covent Garden and Higgins’ study, were meticulously crafted to transport audiences to early 20th-century London.

Vintage My Fair Lady movie poster - pink at ClickAmericana com

The film’s lasting impact

When My Fair Lady hit theaters in 1964, it was met with widespread praise and quickly became a box office sensation. This success wasn’t surprising, considering its Broadway roots; by early 1959, the stage version had already set records, becoming the highest-grossing Broadway show of its time.

It went on to win eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Rex Harrison. But its legacy goes beyond the awards. The film is a cherished piece of cinema, loved for its engaging story, beautiful music, and memorable characters.

Scroll on for some fun movie memorabilia — including a LOOK magazine article profiling the movie back in 1964, as well as photos and video.

My Fair Lady Soundtrack
  • Shrink-wrapped
  • Audio CD – Audiobook
  • 10/18/1994 (Publication Date) - Sony Classical (Publisher)

My Fair Lady's dream comes true (1964)

ARTICLE: My Fair Lady’s dream comes true (1964)

Wouldn’t it be lovely if ‘Enry ‘Iggins and Eliza Doolittle were as warm and ‘owling a hit on the screen as on the stage? We will know in October when Warner Bros unveils its $17,000,000 production of “My Fair Lady.”

Meanwhile, these scenes from the film, now being edited, indicate that all is well with the most popular musical ever.

The Lerner-Loewe classic is the first of its kind since “The Merry Widow” (1904) to be universally accepted. Audiences from Moscow to Melbourne love its tunes and laugh at the same lines of George Bernard Shaw’s fable about the professor of phonetics and the Cockney flower girl he transforms into a great lady by mending her diction.

YouTube video

Adorned with Edwardian elegance by designer Cecil Beaton, the movie keeps the 1912 London flavor of the original show, with Rex Harrison repeating his stage role as Professor Higgins, and Audrey Hepburn playing the Covent Garden guttersnipe.

In midnight rain at Covent Garden, Eliza dreams: “Wouldn’t it be lover’ly with someone warm and tender as he can be, who tykes good care of me?”

My Fair Lady movie scene at ClickAmericana com

Higgins conquers her Cockney

Rex Harrison has grown accustomed to the face of Henry Higgins, having played the irascible professor 1,006 times in the original New York and London productions.

For his 1,007th performance, he spent “a grueling six months” on the movie. Rather than use recordings of his song numbers, he did them “live,” with a microphone hidden beneath his necktie, to keep them spontaneous.

Captions: Eliza, unruly daughter of a trash collector, expresses herself vigorously.

Joy and victory! When she correctly pronounces “the rain in Spain,” the professor grabs her and whirls her in a wild tango. By George, she’s got it!

My Fair Lady's dream comes true 1964 movie (2)

Captions: A pantomime scene shows Eliza’s horror at her first step in Professor Higgins’ outrageous plan to make a lady of her.

She is terrified when the maids begin to undress her.

Yowling Eliza, condemned to tub, descends into steam-filled hell.

My Fair Lady's dream comes true 1964 movie (1)

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03/12/2024 12:06 am GMT

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