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Pygmalion (1938), Leslie Howard, Wendy Hiller

My impression after watching “Pygmalion” was that it was better than the musical adaptation “My Fair Lady”. Why? Because the playwright George Bernard Shaw was also the screenwriter of this version and he knew exactly how to adapt the dialogue of his original play for the film version. I also liked the acting of Leslie Howard as Professor Higgins, which was superior to Rex Harrison’s performance in the musical. As for Wendy Hiller, I honestly think that she could not compete with Audrey Hepburn, even if she was much more natural in several scenes than Audrey. The direction of Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard (who was, of course, also in the leading role) was perfect and truthful to the story. In “My Fair Lady”, George Cukor, a women’s director, had a very different vision towards the development of the plot and the actors’ interpretation, maybe because he wanted to make it truthful not to Shaw’s old play, from 1916, but to the Broadway musical version from the 1950s, which was written by Alan Jay Lerner. Of course, you will say that a black and white romantic comedy can’t be compared to a musical masterpiece in color, with splendid costumes and sets. But there are certain qualities that make “Pygmalion” a better film than “My Fair Lady”, maybe because it is not so noisy and it is more natural than the musical. It is also shorter in length, as “My Fair Lady” is twice longer and more tiring than the British film. “Pygmalion” received an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay, and three nominations, for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress in leading roles. I consider it one of the best films of the 1930s and it was a huge success at the box-office, in 1938. I highly recommend you to watch it and to enjoy Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller, who were trully excellent in their roles and certainly deserved an Oscar for their performances.