Cranky Professor Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard) takes a bet that he can turn Cockney guttersnipe Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller) into a “proper lady” in a mere six months in this delightful comedy of bad manners, based on the play by George Bernard Shaw. This Academy Award–winning inspiration for Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady was directed by Anthony Asquith and star Howard, edited by David Lean, and scripted by Shaw himself. —The Criterion Collection
For two decades, Anthony Asquith was — along with Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, and Carol Reed — one of the most internationally successful filmmakers to come out of England. So much of his career was spent adapting plays to the screen, however, that his critical recognition was somewhat limited in his own lifetime and for many years after, and it was only in the 21st century that his movies began getting the respect they deserved. Born in 1902, Asquith was the youngest child of Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928), who served as British prime minister from 1908 to 1916. Anthony Asquith was known to friends by the nickname “Puffin,” given him by his mother. He had an avid interest in music as a boy, but conceded a severe lack of talent as a musician; in its place, he discovered the emerging new art of cinema, which fascinated him. As a young man, Asquith, in turn, played a pivotal but indirect role in the development of motion picture arts in England by co-founding the London Film Society… read more
Son of a London stockbroker, British actor Leslie Howard worked as a bank clerk after graduating from London’s Dulwich School. Serving briefly in World War I, Howard was mustered out for medical reasons in 1918, deciding at that time to act for a living. Working in both England and the U.S. throughout the 1920s, Howard specialized in playing disillusioned intellectuals in such plays as Outward Bound, the film version of which served as his 1930 film debut. Other films followed on both sides of the Atlantic, the best of these being Howard’s masterful star turn in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934). In 1935, Howard portrayed yet another disenchanted soul in The Petrified Forest, which co-starred Humphrey Bogart as a gangster patterned after John Dillinger. Howard was tapped for the film version, but refused to make the movie unless Bogart was also hired (Warner Bros. had planned to use their resident gangster type, Edward G. Robinson). Hardly a candidate for “Mr. Nice Guy” — he was known to… read more
a beautiful story of a woman transformed and the benefits/consequences it holds. I really loved this story and how it was portrayed on screen, in a somewhat abstract style of juxtaposing her lessons between her dreams. Leslie Howard is amazing here and plays his character of Higgins incredibly well. Definitely a lost gem on the Criterion archives!