D Er Ek McGov Ern It seems temporally appropriate that George Cukor's screen version of My Fair Lady should have been released in 1964, since it neatly concluded a half-century of attempts by actors, directors, and adapters alike to romanticize Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. From the very moment, in fact, that Herbert Beerbohm Tree and Mrs. Patrick (Stella) Campbell--in their respective roles of phonetician Henry Higgins and Cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle--had improvised lines and stage business to imply to their opening-night London audience in 1914 that a romantic union between their two characters was inevitable, Shaw was embroiled in a perpetual struggle to control his conception of the play. To Shaw, the culminating point of Pygmalion was that Eliza achieves independence from the bullying Higgins. an Eliza-Higgins marriage, he declared, would have been "a revolting tragedy."1 To that end, Shaw appended a prose sequel to the first (1916) English-language publication of Pygmalion in book form, in which he outlined Eliza's married life with the youthful Freddy Eynsford Hill, a minor character in the play. However, the public, in general, "went on preferring its own version."2 The advent of talking pictures offered Shaw an opportunity to reassert his wishes,
SHAW The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies – Penn State University Press
Published: Sep 17, 2013
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