Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
United Kingdom, 1938. Pascal Film Productions. Screenplay by George Bernard Shaw, W.P. Lipscomb, Cecil Lewis, based on the play by George Bernard Shaw. Cinematography by Harry Stradling Sr.. Produced by Gabriel Pascal. Music by Arthur Honegger. Production Design by John Bryan. Costume Design by Ladislaw Czettel. Film Editing by David Lean.
Not as splashy as the musical version directed by George Cukor in 1964, but a much snappier and funnier film version of George Bernard Shaw’s milestone play. It concerns a snooty linguistics professor (Leslie Howard) who takes in a common flower seller (a marvelous Wendy Hiller) and turns her into a duchess simply by teaching her to improve the way she speaks. Or so he thinks; what really happens is that in learning how to speak, Hiller gains enough confidence in herself to live better and pursue a deeper happiness. What the professor doesn’t count on is gaining real affection for the lass, and there is where the story really comes to a head. Features a great supporting performance by Marie Lohr as Howard’s straight-laced mother (though nothing beats Gladys Cooper’s iciness in the Cukor version).
Academy Award: Best Screenplay
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Leslie Howard); Best Actress (Wendy Hiller)