Best Picture: West Side Story / Tom Jones / My Fair Lady

Quite a series of musicals to end July.

West Side Story

One of the ones I watched as a kid that I never really paid attention to, I’m glad I took the time to re-watch this as an adult.  The re-telling of Romeo and Juliet set to New York City racial tensions, including musical numbers and dancing and ballet fighting.  Since this is a fairly well known movie in and of itself, I don’t feel necessary to include a lengthy review, except to say that I enjoy the movie, and still tear up at the end.

Tom Jones

Heroes, whatever high ideas we may have of them, are mortal and note divine.  We are all as God made us, and many of us much worse  – Narrator

Tom Jones now holds a special award: it is the first Best Picture winner that I not only could not understand why it won, I couldn’t even finish the movie.  I tried, I did, but the story was so unsurprising, the main character so unworthy of any bit of attention, and the characters so flat I couldn’t care.  About the only thing from the movie worth mentioning was the Narrator, whose dialogue was at least well written and well delivered.

My Fair Lady

The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated. -Eliza Doolittle.

I know I watched this with my dad way back when, but other than the ‘Rain in Spain’ and the Ascot Horse Races, I have no recollection of it.  As such, most of this three hour movie was new to me, and quite a delight it was.

The story was known to me: Professor Higgins, a learned man of some wealth, takes a woman named Eliza Doolittle from the streets of London and trains her to be a proper lady, with the goal that she will be accepted as a lady at a large and extravagant ball.

What I learned watching this movie was that the Professor Higgins is a colossal jack-ass.  Everyone else is a likable character. Eliza is working to make something better of herself; Colonel Pickering helps train her but is looking out for her interest as well.  Even Higgins’ mother comes to like the young woman.  But Professor Higgins is unlikable.  Capable, competent, but a jack-ass.

And if you see this movie, make sure you pay attention to Eliza’s father; he is a great character and really fun to watch.  More than the trope greedy parent.

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