Pygmalion (1938)

Pygmalion (1938), directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard.

What determines a person's fate? Some say Nature: good genes, good blood. Other say Nurture: education and training and environment.

GB Shaw proposes it might be just a coat of paint: you speak and dress differently and people treat you differently, you think of yourself differently and actually become a new person.

This is one of the best British movies of the 1930s. Fast moving, funny and witty throughout with not a moment of dead air. Leslie Howard is sorely missed: his Henry Higgins is much livelier than grumpy Rex Harrison's in My Fair Lady (1964). What if he had survived the War?

Shaw wrote a postscript: Eliza, realizing the Prof is "unmarriageable", weds Freddy instead. Colonel Pickering sets them up with that flower shop and they do quite well. Higgins visits on a more-or-less friendly basis.

As with all his plays, his characters sound just like Shaw himself, arguing different sides of a problem.

Criterion DVD. Quality is variable, as if individual scene edits were spliced from different bits of film. I hope there is a better source somewhere.