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edonline

Emma Thompson: 'Audrey Hepburn couldn't act'

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I like how you make these general comments about what the youth of today see and don't see. I am 28 I fell in love with My Fair Lady when I was in High School. I did see Mary Poppins when I was younger than that but the film is probably more enjoyable for children. Still I know many people my age and much younger who love My Fair Lady. I remember when I bought the DVD a year or so ago the kid (who was only a teenager) at the counter told me it was his favorite movie.

 

My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins are both well known Classics along the same lines as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind & Casablanca. Many people of all ages have watched them both and still watch them both. What is the better movie is all a matter of opinion.

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Why do you keep trying to argue with me? I'm responding to other people in this thread. I know you love MFL. It's not really necessary to keep saying the same thing, over and over. It's not really necessary to say it's a matter of opinion. I know that. I've already said that. Of course everything I say is my opinion, but there are certain facts, as well. You cannot honestly believe that MFL is a more popular and enduring film than MP, can you? They aren't equal in their popularity, and they never were. Not even in 1964. MP was always the more popular film. For one, it is more geared to the entire family, and for 2, it's a Disney film. I can say as a matter of fact, that MP has been seen by more people since its release, than MFL. That's not an opinion. At least when I post something, I'm adding to the discussion. All you're doing it disagreeing with me. It's kind of silly and immature.

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I am disagreeing with you because you act like your opinion is fact to make it seem like My Fair Lady was and is some huge failure. And I am not just replying to you but others in the thread as well. If someone says something I agree or disagree with I respond to them. It's a message board. If it's a private conversation that I can't respond to then take it to PM.

 

I can say more of the youth of today have seen Wizard of Oz than Gone with the Wind and what does that mean? Of course because Wizard of Oz like Mary Poppins is a family/kid's movie. It's like the Disney Classics. Certain movies are going to be introduced to a child early on. More kids have probably seen Mary Poppins compared to Casablanca too. Does that mean it is more popular and enduring? As children get older they are introduced to other classics.

 

And yes I certainly believe My Fair Lady is just as popular and enduring as Mary Poppins. I knew about it at a young age. All my friends knew about it. It is not some obscure classic. All these films are mainstream classics. Even if Mary Poppins is slightly more popular and made more money at the box office who cares. My Fair Lady is still extremely popular today as well and like Mary Poppins is also one of the top box office earners of all time. And as I pointed out their IMDB ratings (which was not a response to you) they are pretty much on equal terms.

 

 

Oh and why don't you pat yourself on the back because you apparently are contributing to the thread.

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>johnm_001 you wrote:

>You cannot honestly believe that MFL is a more popular and enduring film than MP, can you? They aren't equal in their popularity, and they never were. Not even in 1964. MP was always the more popular film. For one, it is more geared to the entire family, and for 2, it's a Disney film. I can say as a matter of fact, that MP has been seen by more people since its release, than MFL. That's not an opinion.

 

Well, the record speaks for itself and MP has in many ways surpassed MFL from a historical basis. The reason for this is that MP had no backlash or criticism surrounding its production. MP opened with a clean-slate, while MFL was riddled with controversy. No doubt, the talk about what happened with MFL, actually helped in the film getting lots of attention and thus reach its classic status.

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote}

.

>

> Well, the record speaks for itself and MP has in many ways surpassed MFL from a historical basis. The reason for this is that MP had no backlash or criticism surrounding its production. MP opened with a clean-slate, while MFL was riddled with controversy. No doubt, the talk about what happened with MFL, actually helped in the film getting lots of attention and thus reach its classic status.

 

If I'm reading your post correctly, you're saying that the MFL backlash was great publicity for MP? Absolutely! Disney couldn't have asked for better publicity for his film, than Andrews' not getting cast in MFL. Every time MFL was mentioned, they mentioned Julie and MP. A popular myth is that Julie Andrews would not have been able to do MP, had she done MFL. That isn't true. For one, the principal photography on MP was completed, prior to principal photography starting on MFL, due to the special effects and animation that need to be added. Even if they had conflicted, Disney wanted her so much, that he had already delayed the film, because when he asked her to star in the film after seeing her in Camelot, she told him she was pregnant. He replied, "That's okay. We'll wait", and they did. Another piece of MP trivia, that you may or may not know, Julie provides the whistling for the bird in A Spoonful of Sugar, and a voice of one of the "Pearlies" who sing backup in Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Marni Nixon adds her voice to some of the cartoon characters, as well.

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I still don't think whether a film's production did or did not have controversy says anything about a film's success. And certainly some criticism on message boards does not speak for its enduring popularity. All well known films are criticized. No film is universally loved by everyone.

 

Btw besides IMDB I also looked up the Facebook page for both Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady. My Fair Lady had 100,593 Likes & Mary Poppins 94, 990 Likes. This is actually slightly more likes for My Fair Lady but minuscule that I would say despite everything that might have happened in the past today they seem to be equally loved.

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As I said earlier in this thread I am 28. Since I was not alive when My Fair Lady was on Broadway or when My Fair Lady & Mary Poppins were in the theaters yes I guess that makes me younger than you.

 

However since we were talking about Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady's enduring popularity and also what the youth of today think about these movies then I think Facebook (which yes does have many young people on it) is just as good a source as anything to find out. Of course it is not a science (either is looking at IMDB numbers) but it is certainly nothing to scoff at.

 

On another note which may be of interest to you TCM is on facebook too (and there are actually a lot of people who are old enough to have seen My Fair Lady on Broadway on there as well).

 

Edited by: Kinokima on Aug 13, 2010 8:49 AM

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That Doris Day went after SOM. But then you know everything, right? Anyway, I'm done on this thead..........

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Kinokima,

 

You are beating a dead horse here. John knows everything there is to know about MLF, Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews and apparently everything that went on in Hollywood during the 50, 60s and who knows when. Just let him talk to himself.............

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I believe you missed the point related to MFL and the impact Andrews and the play had. She was so good and made such an impact that the vast majority of people at that time (I remember my dad made comments), was that Hepburn's performance was second rate (at best).

 

Of course all movies get critized but the point was that MFL will always have a historical record as being a major cast mistake since there was something (at the time) to actually compare it too.

 

BUT there is something else going on here also: MFL is indeed a very good movie regardless. i.e. it is indeed a classic. To me this second point is what makes it unique from a historical perspective. MFL is a very good movie and clearly stands on it's own as a classic BUT those 'in the know' also understand that it would of been so much better if Andrews had been given the role.

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Jamesjazzguitar I am not missing the point. I understand there was a big controversy over Julie Andrews not being cast (Audrey Hepburn unfairly took the brunt of the criticism even though it was not her fault. it was Jack Warner's. And yes I do still enjoy her in the movie).

 

You don't have to be there to have known this. The information is all over the Internet. And I knew about it well before this thread. And keep in mind that even though I wasn't around during that time I have relatives that were.

 

I did not see Julie Andrews in the play but I have heard her sing the songs. Yes she was wonderful. Yes I think it was unfair and stupid not to cast her because she wasn't what Jack Warner thought of as a star. I even said it would be nice if Julie Andrews had a part in this new movie. And good for Julie Andrews that she won best actress that year. I think she deserved it.

 

But not everyone at the time hated My Fair Lady because Julie Andrews was not cast. The movie was still a success. Maybe not as big of a success as it could have been with Julie Andrews but it won best picture and it is still one of the top money earners of all time. Most people would love to have a failure like that. And today it is still regarded as one of the top musicals along with Mary Poppins. You can say 1964 was a very good year for musicals. Although I know some people would argue Dr. Strangelove was the real best picture that year.

 

And as for having something to compare it to isn't this the same thing as comparing a movie to a book? Often times the book fans are upset at changes the movie made (and I know I myself have been in this situation many times before). And maybe the book is better than the movie that doesn't mean the movie does not stand on its own and is a classic in its own right. And certainly My Fair Lady has endured as a popular classic even to this day.

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Well it looks like we agree on all points here. As I said MFL is unique because it was both a very good, if not great, movie but at the same time 'second rate' to what it could of been.

 

One think we will never know is if Jack was right or wrong with regards to box office; i.e. would the box office been bigger if Andrews was given the part? Who knows. Hepburn was a major star at the time, so while I feel it is safe to assume the movie would of been better with Andrews, it doesn't mean the box office would of been better.

 

I also enjoy Hepburn in the movie (but I love Audrey!), but Thompson does have a point about how Hepburn acts in this movie. Wendy Hiller did a lot better job in terms of acting the part.

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Yes we definitely agree. :)

 

I guess I didn't have to write out that long explanation I just wanted to clarify my points. I can't say how the film compares to the play without having seen it myself. I am just talking about the movie on its own merits.

 

"I also enjoy Hepburn in the movie (but I love Audrey!), but Thompson does have a point about how Hepburn acts in this movie. Wendy Hiller did a lot better job in terms of acting the part."

 

Emma Thompson actually clarified her point and indicated she wasn't talking about Audrey just in MFL but in all movies (or at least all movies Emma has seen). Emma doesn't like Audrey as an actress (which is perfectly fine) but she seems to think Audrey's appeal is all about appearance. As a fan of Audrey that I couldn't disagree more with.

 

And I think Wendy Hiller is absolutely wonderful as Eliza. Yes I might even think she is better (especially in the early parts) but I do enjoy both Wendy & Audrey in the part. I am also sure I would have loved Julie too if given the chance to see her.

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Mary Poppins is the best film, musical or otherwise of 1964.

 

That's entirely possible. I don't have a list in front of me. But it's a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious movie!

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Well I don't agree with Emma as far as Audrey as an actress. In MFL I feel Audrey is stiff and unnatural in the role, and as you noted especially at the start (as the poor dirty girl), when compared to Hiller.

 

Of course I might be bias since Audrey is so "Sabrina" to me that I cannot picture her as a poor dirty girl. When I saw Hiller it was for the first time and I had no preset view in my mind about her. With Audrey I had a very clear view of her style and thus that could be why I don't see her being the poor dirty girl.

 

But Audrey is a very fine actress and was very natural in a lot of her roles; e.g. Wait Until Dark!

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> Kinokima you wrote:

> As I said earlier in this thread I am 28. Since I was not alive when My Fair Lady was on Broadway or when My Fair Lady & Mary Poppins were in the theaters yes I guess that makes me younger than you.

>

> However since we were talking about Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady's enduring popularity and also what the youth of today think about these movies then I think Facebook (which yes does have many young people on it) is just as good a source as anything to find out. Of course it is not a science (either is looking at IMDB numbers) but it is certainly nothing to scoff at.

>

> On another note which may be of interest to you TCM is on facebook too (and there are actually a lot of people who are old enough to have seen My Fair Lady on Broadway on there as well).

 

Well, I will admit I'm impressed with any young person finding interest and love towards any classic film, be it MFL or MP. My feelings on this matter are based on what I know of all the professional opinions surrounding the casting and make-up of MFL. It was a production that simply was unable to satisfy most of Hollywood elite who understood that an important aspect to the production was lost. Coming from the "Old Hollywood School" myself, I felt a lot of the discontent and aggravation that surfaced around Tinseltown, after all the fuss settled and we were left with what Warner's decided would be best. Of course, over the years there's been enough opinions made that drift towards a huge mistake having been made in the casting. This is what has obviously propelled Thompson to make her rather flamboyant statements about Audrey. In the end, MFL was a massively produced film that gave off with lots of hype and fanfare, but what was missing was a simple legitimacy to the fact of what the musical should have represented or had been represented by!

 

Johnm 001 and I have in the past discussed this issue of MFL and its history on other threads. We haven't always agreed on the subject, but I have to go along with Johnm's prime and solid point that MP had more going for it than MFL in terms of its purity of production and entertainment. To my estimation, this doesn't mean that MFL was such a terrible movie, it just wasn't as technically polished as it could have been, when compared to MP and how Andrews carried over the film; while Audrey couldn't be so convincing or we knew at the time, as lovely and talented as she could be, she wasn't the right choice.

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I've always felt that had Cary agreed to take on the role of "Higgins," Andrews then might have stood a good chance of winning the role she made famous on stage. I've heard it said that Cary would have campaigned on behalf of Andrews and this I think is the leverage that was needed. Of course, there have been outcries that Jack L. Warner never wanted Julie to be in the film. This is probably true, but certainly Cary being who he was, held all the cards and that's a fact there is no way around.

 

Ok Johnm 001 . . . I'm waiting for your typical reaction to this statement I've made about Jack L. Warner and his rationalization that you have never agreed with . . .:)

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There is no question that Grant wanted Andrews in the film. He also wanted Stanley Holloway and Rex Harrison, which is why he didn't do it. Warner wanted Jimmy Cagney for Doolittle. Cagney turned him down, as well. I think I would have rather liked Grant in the role, although his accent would have presented a bit of a problem. Warner was dead set against Andrews,as was much of Hollywood, probably due to Joe Pasternak's labeling her "not photogenic enough for film", years earlier. Disney never thought anyone knew more than him, and when he saw her in *Camelot*, he offer her the lead in his biggest motion picture, ever. Right there on the spot. Had Grant accepted Higgins, my guess is he would have gotten his way, and Andrews would have been in it. I hate the direction of the film so much, that I'm glad Julie Andres isn't in it. I like her too much for that. Harrison overcomes it, because of all his years doing the show. Andrews did the show even longer, so she would have overcome the lousy Cukor direction, as well. The film would still have the same gruesome pacing, lackluster photography and comatose staging of musical numbers.

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>johnm_001 . . .

 

I always wanted Harrison to revive his role for the movie, knowing full well that Warner didn't have him as the first logical choice. In the past, I've made mention to you about the box-office issue that for its time seem to make sense. However, after we had those series of discussions on MFL at other threads, I did some research in regard to Andrews. _You_ _were_ _correct_ in signfying that Andrews wasn't exactly unknown to the general movie-going public at the time all of this occured. Therefore, Jack L. Warner was way off-base to using as an exuse Andrews not having even done a film, aside from not having enough box-office clout. While this argument still rages on to this day, I now feel that although I love a few things about MFL, the casting issue will always hamper my overall feelings about the motion picture; whereby Audrey was totally wrong for the role, creating too much of an artificial presence, ending rather spuriously. What sort of saved the movie for me was Rex Harrison and the great Stanley Holloway: "lock-stock-and barrel!"

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How could Andrews have been known to the movie-going public if she had never done a movie? How many of the "mgp" had seen her on Broadway? I don't believe she had done a lot of television.

 

Edited by: finance on Aug 14, 2010 9:56 AM

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>finance you wrote:

> How could Andrews have been known to the movie-going public if she had never done a movie? How many of the "mgp" had seen her on Broadway?

 

Easy answer . . . As "Johnm 001" pointed out in his many past postings, Andrews had been a household name by way of her numerous television appearances, starting around 1956. And then there was her recording career that was as big or well known. She was readily making about two to three appearances on television throughout the years, leading to her film career getting started in 1964. All that was needed for Andrews to get an acceptance of sorts was a major male star opposite her to appear in MFL. The basic problem for Andrews was she had never, up to that time, had appeared in a major motion picture. As to why she waited so long had more to do with history and the lack of movie musicals and suited materials coming out of Hollywood by the early 1960s. "Johnm 001" was correct in stating that Walt was smart enough to realize Andrews had a good chance at a career in motion pictures with the right kind of role. Jack L. Warner saw things differently, due in large part to worrying about "star power" that in moive terms equates with a sure or quick box-office response. This is why for most film historians, MFL has an artifical atmosphere surrounding its creation, because of a somewhat contrived means of utilizing a star that had no solid relationship to a musical background; as a real singer!

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Andrews was the mystery guest on "What's my Line" around 1959. I don't remember any other TV appearances. Then again, I was a little kid at the time. She probably appeared after my 7PM bedtime.

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