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Keira Knightley to star in 'Fair Lady' remake?


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From Variety:

 

*Knightley eyes Columbia's 'Fair Lady'*

Update will retain musical's score and setting

By TATIANA SIEGEL

 

Columbia Pictures is tuning up a "My Fair Lady" redo, with Keira Knightley in talks to star as the simple Cockney flower girl who is transformed into a lady.

 

The studio declined comment on casting of the project, being produced by Duncan Kenworthy ("Love Actually," "Notting Hill") and London legit maven Cameron Mackintosh.

 

CBS Films, which owns the film rights to the Lerner & Loewe musical, will co-produce and Sony will distribute.

 

While it's being called an update, the film will use the tuner's score and retain its 1912 setting. Where possible, Kenworthy and Mackintosh intend to shoot the film on location in the original London settings of Covent Garden, Drury Lane, Tottenham Court Road, Wimpole Street and the Ascot racecourse. (The 1964 Warner Bros. film was lensed entirely on Hollywood soundstages.)

 

The filmmakers plan to adapt Alan Jay Lerner's book more fully for the screen by drawing additional material from George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion," which served as the source material for the musical. The goal is to dramatize the emotional highs and lows of Doolittle as she undergoes the ultimate metamorphosis under the tutelage of Professor Henry Higgins.

 

"This update will preserve the magic of the musical while fleshing out the characters and bringing 1912 London to life in an authentic and exciting way," said Col co-president Doug Belgrad.

 

Kenworthy, who worked with Knightley on "Love Actually," said, "With 40 years of hindsight, we're confident that by setting these wonderful characters and brilliant songs in a more realistic context, and by exploring Eliza's emotional journey more fully, we will honor both Shaw and Lerner at the same time as engaging and entertaining contemporary audiences the world over."

 

Mackintosh, who has produced many of the West End's and Broadway's most successful musicals, including "Cats," "Les Miserables" and "The Phantom of the Opera," said the story of Doolittle's transformation "couldn't be more timely in a contemporary world obsessed with overnight celebrity."

 

Mackintosh has produced two stage revivals of "My Fair Lady": the first in 1979, with Lerner directing; and a second incarnation, which opened in the West End in 2001 and is now touring the U.S.

 

"My Fair Lady," with book and lyrics by Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, was first staged in 1956 featuring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. Audrey Hepburn and Harrison starred in the Oscar-winning George Cukor-helmed film.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Audrey Hepburn couldn't sing and it never stopped her from making a musical...

 

I agree... The 1939 PYGMALION with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller is the best version of the Shaw story, although Shaw was adamant that this is NOT a love story and that Higgins and Eliza do NOT end up together.

 

As much as I admire the great Moss Hart, his version of the mammoth Broadway hit of MY FAIR LADY with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews is NOT the bloated and endless 1964 movie version.

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Drednm- I am taking a big risk here by stating that I don't really like the 1964 musical with Rex and Audrey. I'm sorry everyone. Audrey Hepburn's performance is ok, but to me she seems kind of amateurish and Rex just seems bored. I know I shouldn't say this, but oh, well. Once I saw Howard and Hiller, I could never go back and watch the 1964 musical.

 

That said, I would have loved to see "My Fair Lady" on stage. All the pictures I see from it look intimate and more in proportion, relying on the actors to get the point across.

 

As you say, Shaw himself hated the ending of the 1938 movie. But when Higgins puts his head down and covers his face, then pretends not to care when Eliza comes back, my heart and mind say that it is a far more satisfying and true ending to the story. The ending is open to interpretation at that point- Higgins doesn't get down on one knee and propose or anything. And Shaw also wrote a brief sequel in which Eliza marries Freddie! So after all, what did George Bernard Shaw know? ;)

 

I feel that the characters- like Galatea, have a mind of their own, and simply WILL do what they WANT.....

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No Jack I agree. the 1964 film is among the most boring and lifeless musicals imaginable. Hence my apologies to the great Moss Hart, since I'm sure his stage version was infinitely better.

 

Shaw hated the film 1938 version because of the "happy ending." Yet Leslie Howard gets it right with Higgins as a crusty bachelor and Wendy Hiller also gets it right with Eliza. They are not a romantic couple and should never end up together.

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Gosh, I love that movie! I'm so glad you do too. Every time the musical is on, I want to go watch *Pygmalion.*

 

I just love that Howard's Higgins doesn't even know how insufferable he is. When people say they aren't fond of Howard in "Gone with the Wind", I just wish they would see his acting here. He's absent-minded, tactless, and somehow endearing at the same time. Wendy Hiller is great, from the surprised look she gives when Howard shoves the marbles into her mouth, to the grand ball. She cleans up beautifully, but I sort of miss her dirty face and hands at the end! And the supporting cast is sooo perfect. Lately, I have become more aware of Jean Cadell's great performance as Mrs. Pearce.

 

Of course, the bottom line is that it is directed and produced with the utmost care - I think the editing is absolutely flawless. The way the lines sound - the pace and rhythm of the dialogue is what really makes me enjoy this movie from the beginning to the end. I always feel as though I've travelled back as close as I can to Shaw's time, watching it. It is orchestrated so perfectly that there are no dull spots (you know, where you get up to go to the fridge). It's a sparkling picture, like a bright jewel in the sun. Very lively, and most of all, enjoyable. Right through.

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it's a superb film with flawless performances..... I love the tea party when Hiller launches into the bit about the pinched straw hat... hilarious

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I like the conspiratorial winks she gives during that speech! As if she was telling the most scintillating story! And they all actually do enjoy the "new slang". And Freddy (David Tree) is so completely idiotic. It's delightful.

 

One of my favorite exchanges is between Mrs. Pearce and Prof. Higgins:

 

 

MRS. PEARCE:

..... there is a certain word I must ask you not to use. The girl has just used it herself because the bath was too hot. It begins with the same letter as bath. She knows no better: she learnt it at her mother's knee. But she must not hear it from your lips.

 

HIGGINS:

(loftily) I cannot charge myself with having ever uttered it, Mrs. Pearce. (She looks at him steadfastly. He adds, hiding an uneasy conscience with a judicial air) Except perhaps in a moment of extreme and justifiable excitement.

 

MRS. PEARCE:

Only this morning, sir, you applied it to your boots, to the butter, and to the brown bread.

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