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My Fair Lady (4K UHD + Digital)
My Fair Lady:
I had never seen My Fair Lady before but it seems like I've seen it in a lot of other movies and not realized it; someone from the lower class is brought in to take on the behavior and mannerisms of the upper class? I mean hell, Trading Places even did that! But there's a certain charm that inhabits My Fair Lady by almost everyone involved, and I can understand that charm.
In this case, the lower class person is Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's), full of moxie and a Cockney accent. Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison, Cleopatra) brings her into his home, gives her Dad a stipend and provides her with class and culture that turns her into a prospective princess. She finds that the grass is not necessarily greener, and Higgins finds out the impact of her presence is more than she expected.
From Alan Jay Lerner's book and directed by George Cukor, the film had been a Broadway play (which Harrison and Julie Andrews costarred in) and you can tell the rhythm and beats of it are apparent in the film, and more than that the film is just proud of the story it tells and sings amongst the cast. And Hepburn carries the gumption of Eliza well as well as her dilemma about having this new life that he had always wanted, and not being happy with it. Harrison's Professor has some emotional burdens of their own, but he's putting on a brave face so that they don't reveal themselves, or perhaps that's the era of stoic male lead.
My Fair Lady comes from an era where films based on musicals were proud to be based on musicals and appear to be a straightforward telling of them, not reimagining things somehow, and having the songs flow naturally is something that we see in few films today. It was a nice stroll back through that particular era, and the performances of the ensemble were wonderful. I get it, I really get it!The UHD:
Man, the Dolby Vision presentation of this thing is amazing, no two ways around it. It starts early where you see raindrops on Audrey's cheeks as she's running across set, and textures in upper class evening gowns and suits. Dust and dirt can be seen in detail, as can be faded wear on stone columns and in the house. Colors are vivid and not saturated, flesh tones are natural and things like caked dirt and other imperfections can be made out. The work put into bringing this to Blu-ray a few years back pays off even more in the UHD version, and serves as a demo case for any movie fan.The Sound:
The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack is great; there's a robust feeling to the music using as much of the soundstage as possible when it comes to introductions and preliminary songs. When Higgins exclaims that he did it (you KNOW he did it) it's clear and bold through the center channel. The horse races include channel panning and a tiny bit of low-end fidelity, dialogue is well-balanced and consistent, and the music envelops the listener. Quite possibly the best sounding film of its age on home video.The Extras:
It looks like this came from the 2015 release which is excellent. "More Loverly Than Ever" (57:58) takes a look at the restoration of the film, but also is an appreciation of the film by many contemporaries including Martin Scorsese and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Inspiration for the scenes is talked about, and sound demonstrations, and Hepburn's parallels with Andrews' Eliza, and the style of the film in general. A dinner to kickoff filming for the film is shown, along with interviews of the stars (27:20), and premieres in Los Angeles (4:53) and London (2:17) are recounted. "Cukor Directs Baroness Bina Rothschild" (2:39) takes a peak at the director, and there is a radio interview with Harrison (1:06). Test footage of the film is next (7:04) along with vocals by Hepburn (7:20). "Comments on a Lady" (2:23) include more takes by Marty and Andy. The theatrical featurettes start with "Story of a Lady" (5:05) which give us cast introductions, costumes and test footage, and the behind the scenes for the films looks fantastic. "Design for a Lady" (8:22) look at the wardrobe and set design, and explanations for the costume drawings. "Fairest Fair Lady" (9:31) examines set and production design. You also get a still gallery section and seven(!) trailers for the film. The ‘Awards' section includes a BFI Honor for Harrison (2:08), a Golden Globe Acceptance speech (:47) and compilations of the speeches from the Academy Awards (2:09).Final Thoughts:
The place of My Fair Lady in many moviegoers' hearts is understandable and given that it's more than a half century old really hasn't lost much of its step. The efforts to keep it on the horizon of many are justified as this is one of the better all-around packages of an old film that's out there, even if it's not a complete package. Technically the film is perfect and the extras while not including everything in prior releases, is still quite strong. For its age and its timelessness, a gem in most anyone's collections.