My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964). The stage version of this Lerner and Loewe musical opened in 1956. They then worked on the film musical Gigi, which bears some similarity to My Fair Lady, a similarity noticed by some critics. When the film version of My Fair Lady came out in ‘64, I wonder if people thought of it as being too similar to Gigi? The real question is, why do I place Gigi near the top of my list of favorite musicals, yet find My Fair Lady OK and nothing more? Part of it has to do with length: My Fair Lady runs 51 minutes longer than Gigi, and it’s noticeable. The damn thing never ends. The never-ending list of memorable songs helps a lot, and Audrey Hepburn is just fine once Eliza learns to be a “lady” (could there be a weirder concept than having Audrey Hepburn play a Cockney flower girl?). Rex Harrison gives the impression of being someone who has been playing Henry Higgins for a lot of years. I thought he was tiresome; he won the Oscar for Best Actor. #768 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 7/10.
Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949). Delightful and mean in equal portions, this film about a man who kills half a dozen people who stand between him and a Dukedom would seem to have been a bit much for the time it was made. The murderer, who is also the narrator and, in the absence of any other candidates, the hero, is very matter of fact about his work. And, it must be said, his dalliance with a childhood friend is pretty damn hot, considering we don’t “see anything” in modern terms. The movie is usually remembered as the one where Alec Guinness played eight different roles, and yes, he’s very good. But it’s Dennis Price as the aspiring Duke who drives the film. Price acts upper class long before he has actually ascended to that point, never realizing that he is just like the people he kills. This is not a laugh out loud movie, unless you find British witticisms unbearably funny, but it’s a good movie, which is even better. #225 on the TSPDT list. 8/10.