EST. 2009

February 27, 2010

That Ascot Op'ning Day

ONE OF THE MOST FASHIONABLE SCENES I'VE EVER SEEN IN A MOVIE MUSICAL: Ascot Gavotte from George Cukor's film adaptation of My Fair Lady; one of my favorite musicals ever, and I swear it's not because it has my name on the title.

The film revolves around bachelors Professor Higgins, a learned and arrogant doctor of phonetics, and Colonel Pickering, a more mild-mannered gentleman, who make a bet on whether the professor can pass off a Cockney flower girl as a duchess at a ball, simply by teaching her to speak good English. Well, not simply but rather rigorously.

Audrey Hepburn's portrayal of the lower-class-flower-girl-turned-fair-lady Eliza Doolittle was disappointing and even painful at times. Her acting was funny, accent was inauthentic and her dubbed singing was horribly lip-synced. She really was a beauty though.

I've seen this movie over a hundred times in my youth, and listened to the soundtrack -on cassette tape- over a thousand times. In 1991, my parents took me to watch the Philippine staging of the play with the then newly-Tony-awarded Lea Salonga as Eliza.

Though I may have loved this as a girl for the frill of it, I love it now for its impeccable writing, its insights into language, society and relationships, as well as for the absolutely brilliant Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins, whom you both cannot help but despise and cannot help but fall in love with.

From the humorous I'm Just an Ordinary Man and A Hymn to Him tracks of comedic chauvinism to the soaring On the Street Where You Live and the sweetest, sincerest and tear-jerkingest I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face, the highly awarded and acclaimed My Fair Lady is one fair movie you've got to see.

Or you can wait to see Keira Knightley play the title role in a remake scheduled for release in 2012.

Stills from My Fair Lady, 1964. Directed by George Cukor.

Based on the musical My Fair Lady by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, which is based on the stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.

Art direction by Gene Allen, Cecil Beaton and George James Hopkins. Costume design by Cecil Beaton.