Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Fair Lady

I remember the album cover well. Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison under a parasol. When I was a young teen we played this record so many times we could sing along.

 I remember many albums of musicals in our home: The Mikado was one of our favorites, and we spent an entire summer planning to put on a production of it at our house starring, of course, us children. The plan gradually faded away but the memory lingers.

Then there was My Fair Lady. I believe my parents went to see the movie when it was released in 1964 and that is probably why they bought the album.They did not attend many movies; with 13 children the money was always tight at our house. But this movie I feel certain they went to see because I remember them both singing lines from various songs in the show.

We children listened to the recording so many times I'm sure we wore it out. I could sing right along with Just You Wait, Henry Higgins, I Could Have Danced All Night and Get Me to the Church on Time.

But I do not remember ever seeing the movie. This past weekend I picked up a DVD at a thrift shop and memories of listening to the record flooded back. I knew the story well enough, probably from reading the album's liner notes. But had I ever actually seen it? I could not recall, so I bought the CD and Saturday night I popped it in the player. And I was mesmerized.

I had never seen this movie before, and I loved it! While certainly politically incorrect on many levels for our times, it was absolutely enjoyable. I was fascinated by Audrey Hepburn--her beauty, her humor and comic face, her dancing and her delivery of her lines was just a perfect combination for the role she played. Larry watched it with me for a bit, but was too tired to watch the whole thing. But he was intrigued enough to want to see the rest of it, so Sunday night we watched it again. And I was not one bit upset about that.

It's funny how watching an old movie can remind a person of so many things. I could still sing along with many of the songs, and recognized things my father would say that I did not know came from the film. It was a trip back in time, really. As for Larry, he's been saying his vowels all day today, and we're both still laughing about the scene at Ascot.

It also made me think about my parents, their pleasure in the movie and their romance during World War II. I know Dad identified with Henry Higgins--Dad was a bit of a curdmudgeon himself and he liked characters like Rhett Butler, Zorro and Maverick. Mom was a romantic heart, and she often spoke of how Dad swept her off her feet. Then there was the adversity they faced as a couple from his family and probably from other people as well. I've heard stories of how people believed English women chased Americans, believing they were all rich, and of how Americans took advantage of pure English girls. So I would guess they had some of that to contend with. Yet their unlikely meeting and marriage lent romance to their lives, even when there were many children and little money. The spark and sparkle never left, and movies like My Fair Lady seemed to reinforce their deep love and appreciation of each other.

A trip back to the thrift shop yesterday turned up two more DVDs of old musicals: The Sound of Music and West Side Story. I think movie-watching will be of the musical variety for the next few nights. And I am looking forward to the memories and thoughts that might surprise me as I watch these old favorites.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Jenny said...

When my husband & I were married in the 1980's & we got our first VCR we rented all the musicals - for me of course! I've always loved them & have watched them so many times. I'd love to see a recording of Julie Andrew's on stage playing in My Fair Lady. She played it before Audrey Hepburn.

Rowan said...

I don't like post war musicals in general but My Fair Lady is an exception,it has great songs and Audrey Hepburn is brilliant. I've seen it several times on TV over the years.

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