Pygmalion (1938)

ANTHONY ASQUITH, LESLIE HOWARD

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB

United Kingdom, 1938.  Pascal Film Productions.  Screenplay by , , , based on the play by George Bernard Shaw.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1938.  

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 as Howard’s straight-laced mother (though nothing beats Gladys Cooper’s iciness in the Cukor version).

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