With my hubby on the road for work, I was hunting around for something to watch last night. I found ‘My Fair Lady’ was available from my cable provider for free. Knowing this might be the last night for a while I could get away with watching such a ‘chick flick,’ I settled into the couch with a glass of wine to watch.
I remember loving the musical numbers, and practicing my best cockney Eliza in drama class. (ayeee – I’m a good girl, I am!) I also remember thinking this was one of the greatest love stories ever.
But now having been married for almost 8 years and looking through older, more experienced eyes, I couldn’t stand the Professor. Maybe it was ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir’ that gave me my strange crush on Rex Harrison, but seeing it again it was obvious that the newly reformed Ms. Doolittle makes a bad choice at the end of ‘My Fair Lady.’ Instead of opting for the man who writes her gushing love letters several times a day and seems content to be homeless on ‘the street where she lives,’ she returns like a lost puppy to the man who used her as a verbal punching bag.
If it were not for the kindness of the Captain, Eliza would have walked out a long time before. And are we led to believe that the Captain is picking out her amazing clothes to make her impressive debut into London society? Watching it now, it seems an obvious presumption that the Captain and the Professor are an older gay couple who like to dress up their doll Eliza in beautiful clothes when they are not falling all over each other about the science of phonetics. (And Henry’s song ‘Why can’t a woman be more like a man’ seems to validate my theory.)
The closest Henry Higgins ever comes to showing any affection to Eliza is ‘I’ve grown accustomed to her face.’ (And Rex never really sings any of the songs – they are more spoken than sung. If Hugh Jackman did this role, he would actually SING. And it would sound great and the Professor would not be gay.) He uses terms for Eliza like ‘you presumptuous insect’ and ‘you impotent hussy.’ More than once he refers to her as a ‘guttersnipe’ which is a great comedic word but literally means ‘of the lowest class’ or ‘street urchin.’ I do enjoy a little sparring of the romantic leads before they realize they’re in love, but ‘you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf herder’ is more obviously a message of true love (see The Empire Strikes Back.)
The Professor does finally admit to Eliza that he cares, only brought on by his mother’s sneaky plan. ‘You infamous creature it’s you who’ve wounded me to the heart.’ This is how men said I love you in 1912.
Then you have poor Freddy – the ‘nice guy.’ Waiting patiently outside to catch a glimpse of Eliza. But apparently Freddie is not as rich as the Professor, so what girl would want to end up struggling again after getting used to such lavish surroundings?
So Eliza chooses the teacher/father figure who gave her verbal walloppings. Will they find romance and live happily ever after? Or will she be his personal valet who tells whether he wants coffee or tea and fetches his slippers? Judging by their age differences, the Professor will be dead in about 15 years leaving the younger Eliza a wealthy widow. Then she can find dear Freddy again and finally give the good guy a chance.