Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #15 (From MY FAIR LADY

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Rex Harrison's character of Professor Higgins in this scene comes across to me as very uncaring as to how upset Eliza is and sometimes is just downright rude in how her treats her.  This only succeeds in making her more upset and angry so that is when she yells and throws things as her true self would do. 

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1.  I have never seen "Gaslight", so I will compare "High Society".  In both films the female lead is lit in such a way as if to emphasize her status as a secondary to the male lead.  Hepburn appears in this scene as if she were a initially a piece of furniture.  Then she becomes upset as she realises her past is over with.  It is as if at the beginning in the film, when Eliza Doolittle is in the flower market as a coarse, uneducated woman.  She then comes into the light as an elegant, well spoken lady.  It seems as if Cuckor is using the shadows to show her "coming out".

2.  In the emotional parts of the scene, Cukor uses lights to highlight the speaker.  The non-speaker is always in shadow.  This keeps the audience engaged with the action in the scene.

3.  Eliza is upset because she doesn't know where to go next.  The professor is completely clueless to this as he is only interested in having won the bet.  Eliza reacts emotionally due to her confusion and the professor's seeming lack of concern for her future.

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Gaslight is one of my favorite films, but I never thought of it as a comparison to My Fair Lady...until now. Both have very controlling, dominant males while the women are vulnerable and very much under their control. It's done willingly yet without thinking of the consequences that this will lead to. Adding to that, the men are not concerned with the well being of the women, everything is done because they have something to gain.  With My Fair Lady the scenery and the vibrant colors add to the story of the characters. It's overwhelming for Eliza as she is out of her element, but they also enhance her transformation into something she's not. She's part of society yet she stands out because she's really not part of it. Gaslight is fabulous in black and white as it has the feeling of film noir. It adds to the mystery and the madness that Paula is experiencing at the hands of Anton. 

The transition in emotions in this scene is intense. I haven't seen this film so based on this scene alone, I'm guessing she was expecting something more from Higgins after he wins his bet. As the scene begins, we don't need for her to say anything, Hepburn does a wonderful job of expressing the emotions of hurt and probably betrayal. And taking that to a new level of anger is pretty amazing. Cukor's focus is on Hepburn and he lets her loose to let everything out. Such raw emotion. 

Still basing on the scene alone, it seems that Eliza has developed feelings for Higgins while he only sees her as a bet. I feel like Cukor needed to keep it like this throughout the film in order to reach this critical point in their relationship. It makes Higgins' surprise at this revelation all the more surprising while at the same time seeing how clueless he was, never really understanding Eliza while trying to transform her.

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The overarching theme of Gaslight and My Fair Lady is the dominance of men over women and within this dominance a desire to create an idealized representation of the beautiful and submissive female.  Both films are set in the turn-of-the-century, early 1900s to which critical responses to the literature of this period identifies as the cult of domesticity where the vision of the female as "the angel of the household" is projected.  Women are manipulated and coerced into being these malleable figures that can be fashioned into the vision that men desire.  The corset, a staple garment of the period, constrains the female body physically to produce that alluring hourglass figure while socially the male authority as head of the household reinforces the psychological imprisonment of the feminine spirit.  Both of the films are reflections of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" where the female protagonist, an unnamed woman (hence no real individual identity beyond being a wife), descends into madness after the birth of her baby when she is commanded to take a "rest cure" at the advice of her husband John.  Although John is a doctor, he does not understand a female's biological cycles, and in particular, the period of post-partum.  Instead of isolation to her bedroom, the protagonist needs the community and support of other mothers as well as the support of a loving spouse:  she needs time outside of the house to recover her pre-pregnancy connections.  The period of pregnancy was labeled by the term "confinement" where women sequestered away from the flow of daily life much like Rapunzel in her tower. Likewise, Gregory Anton in Gaslight and Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady do not understand women beyond these women's trusting natures when they are in love.  Both men see the opportunity to transform these women into the vehicles or vessels that will give them a personal dividend--money or acclaim.  In fact, the term "gaslighting" defined as "an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power" (according to the Hotline of The National Domestic Violence website), is derived from the play that the film Gaslight was based on, confirming that this practice was and still is not a rare phenomenon.  Both Paula, played by Ingrid Bergman, and Eliza, played by Audrey Hepburn, question their own feeling and instincts--are they crazy to feel the way that they do?  Both women are in turmoil as to how they should handle the treatment that they have received at the hands of the principal male influence in their lives.  They are challenged by the early 20th-century societal values which expect women to be demure and deferential to the guidance of men.  Both Paula's and Eliza's reactions to male manipulation are surprising but appropriate to the destruction of the trust that they had extended to their male partners.

Cukor masterfully utilizes light and shadows to literally and symbolically show Eliza emerging from the imprisonment in the persona created by Higgins for her into the confrontation of dealing with her inner turmoil. In this Daily Dose clip, Eliza is standing in the shadows of a corner of Higgins' study like a naughty child who has misbehaved and has been punished by her "father."  She walks dejectedly over to the piano and turns off a lamp, further plunging herself into darkness:  she has turned off her own conscience and denied herself access to any self-enlightenment.  Then she collapses into an upholstered chair.  When Eliza cries, her face is brightly lit, showing her true mental state, and she releases the floodgate of pent-up emotions which allows her to confront her inner turmoil in order to deal with the frustration of her current situation.  Eliza pounds the seat of the chair to show her confrontation with her feelings of betrayal and broken trust with Henry: her face is clearly illuminated to reveal her demeanor.  She hears Henry mumbling about his slippers, and she lifts her head up with light fully on her face, recognizing the source of her distress.  All of this time, Eliza is still dressed in her "costume" of the white, lace ballgown with the crimson, velvet coats, the sparkling diamond necklace, and the hair ornament--dressing to perfection in order to demonstrate Higgins' completion of his creation--the ultimate female representation of beauty and grace.  Readers will recall that My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion which is derived from Ovid's narrative poem "Metamorphosis" and the Greek myth of the sculptor Pygmalion who created an idealized woman from a piece of ivory and subsequently fell in love with his creation.  Henry, once confronted with Eliza's accusations, will address her as a "creature," a noun which traces to the root word creation.  Higgins, like Pygmalion, has created his form of femininity, but he is appalled when his creation is not grateful for his efforts.  As a creator, Higgins places himself in the position of being a god who desires adoration for his subject.

Cukor highlights the tension of Eliza and Henry's relationship through their actions--Eliza lunging at Henry like a wild animal and Henry restraining Eliza by grabbing her wrists, Eliza's stinging accusations and Henry's rationalizations, Eliza's reversal to her native enunciations and Henry's corrections of her linguistic tendencies.  It is a dance of wills, defenses, and restrained deferences.  Each person expresses her and his viewpoints while both never quite get to the core of their dalliance which is they that both have an attraction to the other whether it is as a student and teacher,  as a child and parent, as a woman and man, or all three in various forms and degrees.  Henry cross-examines Eliza by asking her questions about her interactions with various persons including himself, then provides an explanation that she is tired from the long day, and finally prescribes a treatment--have a good cry, get a good night's sleep, and all will be well in the morning.  Sensible advice, but not one which acknowledges the deeper concerns Eliza's mind.  Women do not essentially want men to fix their problems; they want men to listen emphatically while women work through their own solutions.  Cukor shows how well he understands the differences of perspectives of a man and woman through his direction of their close and distant postures.  This scene strikes at the core of all male and female relationships--the man not comprehending why the woman is so emotional, and the woman not fathoming how a man could not relate to her distress.  I think any person who has had a lover's quarrel would agree that this scene rings true to the "tango" that men and women dance when trying to understand each other.

 

900_Pygmalion and Galatea.jpg

tango.jpg

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1. In comparison to Gaslight, I suppose you could draw a connection between Hepburn and Bergman's characters especially in this scene. While Hepburn's character is not being convinced she's gone mad, this scene does echo Gaslight with the male character having quiet, calm demeanor, trying to convince the woman she's being silly, while the woman is screaming and crying. 

2. Cukor gives Hepburn the spotlight here with the frame focused on her while Harrison's character floats around in the background. This scene is all about Eliza and her feelings after all, so it's only fitting.

3. Cukor's direction highlights the difference between Harrison and Hepburn's characters in how they show their emotions. Eliza is constantly moving around while Harrison's character maintains his composure and only really moves when he goes to offer her the chocolates. 

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I respectfully disagree with Dr. Ament’s description of the acting in this scene.  The beautiful and delightful Audrey Hepburn is too over the top as she wallows in self pity.  Cukor’s use of light and dark is theatrical.  The cranky clueless scientist Rex Harrison is much too detached from his guinea pig for us to believe that he is actually in love with her.  He relates to her as an animal or bug and appears physically repulsed when he defends himself from her attack to his face.  The audience is never shown physical attraction between these protagonists.  Theirs is a union of convenience and coolness.  He gets to remain with his accustomed companion and she lives in warmth and comfort supposedly for the remainder of her life. 

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This scene would have been so different if it was made today. There would have been close-ups aplenty to emphasize the ACTING that is going on. There would have been swells in the music to underscore the emotional beats. Instead, the scene is sparse, without a score, and with very few cuts and absolutely no closeups. In a way, the medium shots help to emphasize the acting in a more holistic way than close-ups, as we get the whole body - Eliza's prone, defeated posture speaks volumes. 

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I think both My Fair Lady and Gaslight involved women who were, initially at least, easily molded or controlled by men. In the case of My Fair Lady, the decor of Henry Higgin's home is completely tailored to his Victorian-era bachelor needs. He finds women annoying, so of course he hasn't done anything to make her comfortable; he's only hired the jewels she's wearing. In Gaslight, Gregory takes away anything that Paula might enjoy, until the home is sparsely decorated, accusing her of losing things as part of his effort to drive her mad. Cukor uses lighting, closeups, and careful editing in both these films to make the women authentic and sympathetic, and position the men as either roughshod or villainous (rather than subtle) from almost our first encounter. Although Rex Harrison is authentic in his role as the oblivious male, his is a comedic role, and Charles Boyer is obviously a villainous role, while the women receive the three-dimensional attention and camera angles.

It's clear, from this scene and the "I could have danced all night" number (the number where we can all tell that Marni Nixon was singing - dreadful transition), that Eliza is in love with Higgins, but Higgins is - as is his role here - completely unaware, and should have been socked in the head with one of those slippers. She is frustrated that what she has accomplished appears to have no clear path - she has no money to open a flower shop, and she can't stay with two bachelors. Higgins had no plans after the ball, no expectations, and had no idea that he should. He might wake up in the morning with some idea, some concept of what the future should hold for Eliza, or for the two of them, or it might take him another week while he continues to bask in the glory of his accomplishment (and need another slipper in the face). The authentic feelings of Eliza come through, and the confidence that Audrey shows in conveying them - knowing that she looks lovely while doing so - is readily apparent.  I think that is much of what Cukor did as a director; made actresses, and sometimes actors, feel confident that he would show them at their best, so they could focus on acting. 

 

 

 

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Gaslight is a melodrama that has become a metaphor for a kind of victim-blaming that sets out to make oppression reasonable and rebellion a sign of mental impairment. Shaw's Pygmalion ultimately gives My Fair Lady a deeper and more challenging tale to tell but it is harder to interpret. 

In Gaslight a husband plots to convince his wife that she is crazy by setting up a series of events that cause her to doubt her own perception of reality, including the existence of a flickering gaslight in their home. His motives are criminal though the  jeweled object of his desire seems a little silly--what Hitchcock would call a MacGuffan. In My Fair Lady, Higgins is giving Eliza what she wants--the voice, diction, and manner that would allow her to be a lady in a florist's shop. But Eliza also comes to want recognition and respect--a desire that Higgins does not recognize because he is so emotionally stunted. Higgins does not do deliberate harm to Eliza--it's his own damaged personality combined with the English class system that hurts her.  For all these differences, Cukor does make some similar moves in the big comeuppance scenes where Bergman and Hepburn fight back. Both scenes are shadowy and both women command the screen as they break out of their emotional imprisonment. Bergman plays more of a cat and mouse game with her husband, while Hepburn is more openly emotional and confrontational.

Cukor starts off the confrontation  in My Fair Lady by showing Eliza in deep shadow and almost expressionless as she moves about the room. She escalates to sobbing and screaming and flying at Higgins with her nails outstretched. After he enters she is often crouched and below him. He is puzzled by her emotion and nervously moves a few steps behind her. He has never been sure how she feels. Remember that before the ball, she seems calm and cool and he is the one who needs a quick drink. Lacking empathy, he has no idea that she might be nervous. Too some extent, you can blame the class system lens through which the upper class sees working class people as creatures rather than people. But Higgins is a special case even for his social class. He is somewhere on a spectrum that would get intervention if he were growing up today. Eliza is not only interested in upward mobility, she is also proud--she comes to him with the idea of paying her own way. In this scene she is fighting for her sense of self. We see how much she has subjugated her own emotions during the process of her education.  Cukor was a wise and observant man--he is brilliant at creating scenes that show people breaking free not only of conventions but also of their self-imposed constraints. We have to wait a bit for Higgins to have his own moment of awareness, but it does come.

I think Hepburn's acting is fine in this scene. I feel like Cukor encouraged her to really let loose and she could do it.

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16 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:
  • Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 
     
  • Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.
     
  • What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

1. It seems like Cukor's theme is about someone trying to fit into certain high class standards of behavior and culture even though that isn't who they are naturally. But I am struggling with identifying his film making techniques. I don't know what they are or what to look for. But he keeps the camera on Audrey Hepburn's face so we can see her crying and sympathize with what she is going though and saying and feel her frustration. 

2. At first Eliza is crying and visibly upset with Higgins when she throws his slippers at him. But eventually the emotions change to her expressing more frustration with herself, not so much with Higgins. Eliza is going though different emotions and is having trouble with her self confidence so Hepburn portrays her as that. Rex Harrison is gruff and somewhat rude but his character is  a professor and is tender towards the end is more encouraging to her. Cukor just lets it all happen naturally and it feels  non judgmental. 

3. At first Higgins came off as insensitive and condescending but became more encouraging towards Eliza in what he said and coming over to her by the window to offer support. It helps that Cukor's direction isn't judgmental and there is a sensitivity with it. 

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1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course)

A common theme shared by Gaslight and My Fair Lady is that of a woman being manipulated by the male head of household. In the former, the goal is to convince the woman she is going mad. In the latter, to win a bet that he can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. In some small ways, I also see some similarity in the behavior of the male and female characters in the scene from My Fair Lady and earlier scene we examined in The Love Parade. In each film we have a man who remains cool under fire, while the woman loses control and in their own way feels lost in the moment.

2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

Eliza is both humiliated and despondent at the start of the scene. After performing exceptionally well at the ball, it turns out she is given no credit for her achievement. Instead, Higgins takes full credit for the transformation from gutter snipe to lady and displays complete indifference to Eliza's future now that he is effectively done with her. She has suddenly realized the game is over so far as Higgins is concerned, but she is now caught between two worlds. She has been transformed into a charming, beautiful young woman who can no longer return to her previous Cockney existence, but has no true place in a society in which she has been trained to exist.

Higgins enters the salon, totally indifferent to Eliza's state. Out of both anger and frustration at his attitude and her distraught state of mind, she hurls his slippers at him. He treats her like a little child and provides little more solace than a tap on the shoulder and empty words of advice. With each passing moment Eliza falls further into despair while Higgins stands above the fray, indifferent to her severe state. Eliza is often down low, frustrated and crying, while Higgins remains fully **** and calm. She is screaming her plight to him and he speaks in moderated, condescending tones back to her.

3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

Using close-ups and tight double shots, Cukor enhances the conflict existing between the Higgins and Eliza. In this scene, the two characters begin the action far apart but eventually get closer as Higgins works to calm Eliza down. Cukor makes good use of close-ups and cuts to both emphasize the emotional chasm between the two characters and the polar opposite feelings they are exposing. The audience is thrown to and fro, one moment experiencing Eliza's emotional plea for help and guidance and the next observing Higgins' dissonant responses. By keeping the shots close, even when both characters are on screen, Cukor lets the audience get teh full thrust of Eliza's emotional outbursts and Higgins' uncaring reaction to her situation.

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Watching My Fair Lady again, I noticed that after the Ascot debacle when everyone is urging Higgins to stop the experiment, his mother comments something like, “The only reason you would continue this is if you are potty about her.” How did I miss that earlier? Clearly she knows her son. What other foreshadowing/clues about Higgens falling in love did I miss?

And on another note, I always wonder what happened to Freddy. I know that when a play is done, it’s done, but I do sort of feel sorry for Freddy. He’s practically made himself sick over Eliza. Let’s face it, he’s basically stalking her. And he just disappears. I hope he married a New York heiress and had a much happier time of it than people in Henry James novels.

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This scene is the culmination of all the months of work Eliza has done to change her persona from "draggle-tailed guttersnipe" to refined and cultured lady. Although her accommodations have been way beyond what she ever dreamed possible for herself, and her clothing beautiful, tasteful, elegant, and, best of all, brand new, she has been subjected to long hours of arduous work and practice and given virtually no credit for the transformation. She is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted and possibly on the verge of collapse. Yet Higgins is blind to any of this. He casually asks her to tell the housekeeper what he wants for breakfast in the morning and then asks if she has seen his slippers. This is the last straw and all the frustration and exhaustion come pouring out with the throwing of the slippers, much to Higgins' shock. He's become so accustomed to her that he takes her for granted like a piece of furniture. Cukor allows this behavior, perfectly reasonable under the circumstances, to happen naturally and without apology. Audrey Hepburn brings out that giant mix of hurt, frustration, sadness, and longing for something that could never be with great gusto, holding nothing back. 

Having seen this movie multiple times and two or three stage versions, I don't know if I would know this from my first viewing, but it is obvious that there is more to Eliza and Higgins' relationship than meets the eye or that is even spoken or acknowledged between the two. He's such a confirmed bachelor that any idea of being in a romantic relationship with a woman is so suppressed that he probably isn't even aware of it. And she never forgets her less than humble beginnings so the idea of a romance with Higgins would seem preposterous. And yet the chemistry is there, whether they want to admit it to each other and themselves or not. What, if anything, happens as a result is left up to the individual viewer to decide. 

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Always having to be different, I guess, I want to start with this thought.  As opposed to what the lecture notes say: "Compared to the muted background and Higgins’ black and white tuxedo, Eliza’s red dress and dazzling, over-the-top jewelry stand out"  ... I disagree.  Her blood-red velvet coat seem to blend in with all the Victorian-like muted background pieces (her dress does sparkle) but it is HENRY HIGGIN'S black tuxedo and white shirt that stand out in contrast - and he is really just that "black and white" no grey areas for that character.  HE is RIGHT and YOU are WRONG.  Unless you are on his side and therefore, he'll forgive you your mistakes!  A totally loathsome and delightful character to watch as he also self-destructs.  

I did see "Gaslight" and the things that I can think of is the use of that long staircase for important things to place as in this film.  And the overbearing male who wants to destroy the female - one quite literally and the other by taking away any sense of "self" and "creating" her in HIS vision - as if he too were allowed to play God.

Cukor is a tremendously talented director - which still makes me wonder how he could direct that schlock of a film "A Star is Born" with Garland.  He either could not figure out how to cut it down to less than 6 hours other than putting in those voiceover overlays on still frames and then it still went on forever.  And a side note to Mr. Rydstrom - NO THIS student does NOT think this is an "EPIC" film.  If by epic you mean LONG - yes.  But this doesn't hold a candle to "Fiddler on the Roof" or "Camelot".  I only see a drunk or drugged up Judy Garland and can really only remember one scene with that awful clown makeup.  And those stills that make me wish it were over already.   Again, I digress!

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42 minutes ago, KayeA said:

Watching My Fair Lady again, I noticed that after the Ascot debacle when everyone is urging Higgins to stop the experiment, his mother comments something like, “The only reason you would continue this is if you are potty about her.” How did I miss that earlier? Clearly she knows her son. What other foreshadowing/clues about Higgens falling in love did I miss?

And on another note, I always wonder what happened to Freddy. I know that when a play is done, it’s done, but I do sort of feel sorry for Freddy. He’s practically made himself sick over Eliza. Let’s face it, he’s basically stalking her. And he just disappears. I hope he married a New York heiress and had a much happier time of it than people in Henry James novels.

In Pygmalion, Liza does marry Freddy.  I should say that Shaw wrote an epilogue to the printed text that puts Freddy in the picture rather than portraying this marriage in the play itself. Shaw had a lot of talk back from audiences about that! I love Jeremy Brett, so I sometimes feel that Liza might have been happier with someone  who looks so great and who adores her. Marrying Higgins has some of the risk factor of marrying Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang.

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This scene is pertinent because after all the work that's been put into Eliza she finds out that it was all for a bet now she is faced with a uncertain future. Questions like does she continue on as his Ward of sorts? Now that she is this proper, lady where does she go from here? And Rex Harrison remains clueless about her fears he won the bet that's it as far as he is concerned so when she screams at him and throws his slippers at him  he still remains clueless as to why if you really boil this movie Down to it's essence it's all about Rex Harrisons characters ego can he take this street lady (Audrey Hepburn) and make her a proper lady? He does so but in doing so her throws her humanity away she is just a bet to be won! It kind of shows us a little about our self's how much do we see our self's in Rex Harrisons character

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15 minutes ago, KayeA said:

Watching My Fair Lady again, I noticed that after the Ascot debacle when everyone is urging Higgins to stop the experiment, his mother comments something like, “The only reason you would continue this is if you are potty about her.” How did I miss that earlier? Clearly she knows her son. What other foreshadowing/clues about Higgens falling in love did I miss?

And on another note, I always wonder what happened to Freddy. I know that when a play is done, it’s done, but I do sort of feel sorry for Freddy. He’s practically made himself sick over Eliza. Let’s face it, he’s basically stalking her. And he just disappears. I hope he married a New York heiress and had a much happier time of it than people in Henry James novels.

Even though this is based on what we might consider a more sophisticated plot - being based on "Pygmalion" - it is still a main theme in stories through all time - The more a man or woman pushes someone away, the more they are usually "protesting too much".  Also, men love women who fetch their slippers!!! 😋

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Both My Fair Lady and Gaslight show a man dominating a woman.  As I remember, Ingrid Bergman frequently is slightly hunched over to show her dependence and uncertainly, which Charles Boyer stands (as) tall (as he can) and ****.  Frequently she looks downward rather than looking Boyer square in the eye.  When she realizes that her husband has been making her seem to be mad, the roles are reversed and she stands firm while he is tied in a chair.  I don't remember the camerawork of Gaslight, but here the camera initially looks down on Hepburn and straight-on or up at Harrison, putting Eliza below us and Higgins on par with us or above.  And it isn't hard to see Higgins' use of language that in this scene is meant to criticize as similar to the way that Boyer uses logic to demoralize Bergman.

I read long ago that Cukor's approach to a film was to rehearse the actors for days or even weeks without any use of a camera.  One of the reasons that performances in his films were so good is because he had them rehearse like they were preparing for the stage, so that when they finally got in front of a camera, they were fully prepared.  I can imagine that he remembered Bergman's performance in her rehearsal process, and it may have colored the way he directed Hepburn's rehearsal.

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20 minutes ago, ESei said:

In Pygmalion, Liza does marry Freddy

Is the stage play different than the movie of Pygmalion? I just watched the movie on TCM, and the last scene is exactly the same as in MFL. Eliza comes back to Higgins.

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I saw Gaslight about a year or two ago so I'll give it a go on comparing them. The idea of the male controlling the female is definitely predominant in both films just in different ways. In Gaslight, Charles Boyer as the husband is trying to make his wife go mad, and here in My Fair Lady we have Rex Harrison trying to mold Audrey Hepburn's Eliza into someone she's not. The idea of light and shadow I believe was also showcased in Gaslight, as Ingrid Bergman's character was continuing her descent into madness. 

Eliza herself seems absolutely despondent here as the scene opens. Her grief is apparent at the loss of her true self and her rage is directed at Higgins as he comes to the door, hurling those slippers at him one by one. Her despair continues and Higgins seems to ignore it completely, not caring at all about her feelings. It's truly a devastating scene and extremely well done. 

I feel like in this scene we see how far apart Eliza and Higgins are emotionally. The close-ups on Eliza's face and the tighter shots of the two of them together w/the distance between them showcase where they are at. Only nearer the end, do we see them come a little closer as Higgins attempts to calm her somewhat. 

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1. As with others these are two of my favorite films. Actually My Fair Lady is in the top five of musicals. Cukor does a fantastic in both. In Gaslight I view it done in a Gothic story and a thriller. In  My Fair Lady it shows the growth of Eliza from an uneducated lady  to a refined woman.  The sets were muted in Gas Light andcolorful/alive in My Fair Lady  even in the racing scene with the majority of the actors in black and white it feels alive and exciting.  Charles Boyer slowly drives Berman mad. The scenes are muted in color and action.

2. In My Fair Lady the scene is different is that Eliza is totally in love with Higgins, who is totally clueless about it. Eliza faded into the background until the room emptied. It was only then she let her emotions show. Higgins is clueless and has no clue to his own emotions for her. It is only when she has gone that he realizes his feelings. 

3. Unlike many other movies Cukor never shows them becoming a couple. It is only assumed as Eliza starts to bring Higgins his slippers. 

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Just now, KayeA said:

Is the stage play different than the movie of Pygmalion? I just watched the movie on TCM, and the last scene is exactly the same as in MFL. Eliza comes back to Higgins.

You've got it! Lerner and Loewe used the film ending as opposed to the play's. But it's complicated. Even during the original run of the play, some of the performers played with the ending to imply that Liza and Higgins might have a relationship. Shaw actually worked on the screenplay, but the more romantic ending was inserted without his knowledge.

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1. The common themes and filmmaking techniques in Cukor's My Fair Lady and Gaslight - both are Victorian settings, are with a dominating male lead with a  submissive or tormented female being made into someone she is not.  She is ridiculed and her comments and feelings are completely dismissed.  The sole purpose of the male is to reach his goal.  In Gaslight, Boyer murdered for jewels and is obsessed with finding them even if it means that getting rid of Boyer into thinking she is insane.  In My Fair Lady, Harrison wants to win his bet, to prove that he is above everyone else and can change Hepburn into something she is not and fool everybody while doing it. Both males use the ends justifies the means.  At the end the roles reverse the females become stronger and prevail.

2.  The emotional transition moments in this scene start with Harrison being superior and Hepburn is a crying, snivelling, weak woman.   The tables turn throughout the scene Hepburn gets stronger and Harrison is bewildered.  Eliza will become a teacher and she can stand up for herself.

3.   The relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction is the use of design, camera movement and framing.  He knew how to place the performance within the total structure of the movie. expressive use of composition, camera movement and movement within the frame to make a total visual and narrative experience.  In most of Cukor's movies the woman becomes stronger some throughout the movie but at least all definitely by the end

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I really like the way that Cukor lets the emotions breathe in the scene. It's tempting to cut away quickly, because it can be uncomfortable to watch somebody who is so upset, and somebody else who is so obtuse, but he really allows the actors in the scene to marinate in their emotions. In particular, Hepburn's distress is obvious. I also love to watch it shift from despair to rage and back again, and while that certainly speaks to Hepburn's talent, it also speaks to Cukor's talent as a director, and understanding of the character. It reminds me of yesterday's Daily Dose from two Robert Preston films; there is a similar nuance to the characters in play here as there are in "The Music Man" and "Victor/Victoria." 

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The common theme of "being forced to act like someone she's not" is found, not only in MY FAIR LADY but also in Gypsy. Both of the Girls/women are living under the influence of 'dictators', Eliza with Higgins and Gypsy with Mama Rose. Eliza was changed into someone who was out of her element. She wasn't fit to live in an elite society and she couldn't go back to being who she was after seeing and experiencing a better way of life. The action of turning off the light indicates an end to her 'charade'. Her downcast eyes and the wringing of her hands express her despair and worry. She is not who the "red cape" would show her to be: bold and confident in her own skin. Gypsy quietly excepted everything her mother did and said. She was seen as the daughter with no talent, dressed in boy's clothes and never felt worthy. Her sister was always dressed well and treated like a princess, always in the spotlight because she was, in fact, the bread winner for the family. She was needed.

In this scene Eliza is dressed for high society; a beautiful dress, overstated jewelry and even a tiara fit for a queen. She should feel regal, not dejected. Just as Gypsy, putting on the blue dress to go off to do something she doesn't want to do, looks in the mirror and begins to see who she is, pretty. The realization of what's on the outside isn't always what's on the inside.

The relationship between Eliza and Higgins seems more of a guardian to his ward as he never really raises his voice or shouts at her. He never shows compassion either. His pat on her shoulder and his offer of chocolates to appease her indicates a more platonic relationship, not one of a suitor who would take her in his arms and sooth her.

 

 

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