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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PYGMALION FINDS HIS GALATEA...
This superlative, award winning film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's play is as delightful today as when it was first filmed, nearly sixty-five years ago. This ageless story is based upon Greek mythology in which an ivory statue of a maiden, Galatea, is brought to life by the prayers of its sculptor, Pygmalion. In the film, a professor of linguistics, Henry Higgins...
Published on May 12, 2005 by Lawyeraau

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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars THE FIRST DISAPPOINTMENT FROM CRITERION...
Until now, Criterion has been recognized as the undisputed leader in film resoration for transfer to DVD. With PYGMALION, they make a very disappointing stumble. The package states that this is a "gorgeous new transfer, with digitally restored image and sound". I'm sure this is what they intended, but the product does not reflect either restored image or sound...
Published on November 21, 2000


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PYGMALION FINDS HIS GALATEA..., May 12, 2005
This review is from: Pygmalion (DVD-R)
This superlative, award winning film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's play is as delightful today as when it was first filmed, nearly sixty-five years ago. This ageless story is based upon Greek mythology in which an ivory statue of a maiden, Galatea, is brought to life by the prayers of its sculptor, Pygmalion. In the film, a professor of linguistics, Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard), takes a cockney flower seller, Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller), and bets that, within a matter of six months, he can turn her into a lady who can pass in high society without betraying her lowly origins.

Leslie Howard, wonderful in the role, is the quintessential Henry Higgins, playing him as an arrogant, aristocratic misogynist whose own mother (Marie Lohr) barely finds him tolerable. Henry makes his bet about his prospective success with Eliza with his friend, the kindly Col. George Pickering (Scott Sunderland), a wealthy gentleman who bankrolls the costs of Eliza's transformation from guttersnipe to royal pretender.

Wendy Hiller is perfectly cast in the role of Eliza, having a certain earthiness about her, which makes her so believable as the cockney upstart. Yet, she has enough of an incandescence about her, so as to make her believable in her transition from gutter to drawing room. Scott Sunderland is wonderful as Col. Pickering, the buffer between Henry and Eliza. Marie Lohr is excellent as Mrs. Higgins, Henry's exasperated mother. The scene in which Eliza has tea with Henry's unsuspecting mother and her guests is one of the funniest on the silver screen. Look also to a wonderful, comedic foray by Wildred Lawson, as Eliza's father, Alfred Doolittle.

All in all, this is a film that has withstood the test of time. The precursor for the musical adaptation "My Fair Lady", Pygmalion reigns supreme. Nominated for four Academy Awards and winning two, this is the definitive adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's play, sharp and witty. Deftly directed by Leslie Howard and Anthony Asquith, it is simply a magnificently acted film, and one that those who love classic, vintage films will enjoy. Bravo!
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the edition to own, March 4, 2001
By 
Terry Knapp (Santa Rosa, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pygmalion (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
The Criterion/Home Vision edition of this wonderful film is definitely the one to own. It is taken from a pristine print and the sound quality is amazingly vibrant for a film that is over sixty years old. The other available versions are all from worn public domain prints that are better left sight unseen and prove the old truism "you get what you pay for."
I have always been a fan of Leslie Howard: his delightfully cynical Higgins was no surprise. The real revelation for me was Wendy Hiller as Eliza. I was previously primarily familiar with her later roles, such as Paul Scofield's wife in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. She is absolutely luminous in this film.
If you are a fan of MY FAIR LADY, this is a must-have motion picture.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ~Professor Higgins vs. Eliza Doolittle~ A Review..., May 17, 2005
By 
JunQue (Utah, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pygmalion (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Pygmalion is the predecessor to the musical My Fair Lady, but saying that, it undoubtedly rings true as the best version of the popular George Bernard Shaw play. This 1938 film version stars Leslie Howard as Professor Henry Higgins, a teacher and hobbyist of phonetics. Engrossed in this trade, he stumbles across a "cockney guttersnipe," flower peddler Eliza Doolittle (played by Wendy Hiller in her film debut). He takes on a bet with his new acquaintance, Colonel Pickering, and proclaims that in a short time, he can transform her into a proper lady and pass her off as "The Queen of Sheba."
What follows is rigorous training in dialogue and etiquette. From the famous `Marbles in Mouth' exercise ("I swallowed one!") to the final test at the Transylvanian Ball, hilarity and poignant antics ensue. The film shows us a budding friendship between teacher and pupil, even though said characters come within inches of striking the other down in tense moments of their relationship. Pygmalion shows "how deliciously low" Professor Higgins is. There is only one fault in his seemingly perfect facade (besides his swearing): his unsuccessful attempt to see Eliza not just as a guinea pig, but as a human being under her yowling dialect and uncouth manners. Henry's mother couldn't have put it more perfectly, saying that not once has he praised, petted, or admired Eliza for her work. Because of his lack of feeling towards Eliza, he gets a taste of his own medicine when Eliza threatens to forget and leave him.
Traditionally put in the Romance genre, Shaw never intended Pygmalion to be so. In an epilogue for the play that never came into the light, he writes that Eliza and Freddy do get married. He won an Oscar for the film's screenplay, and although in public he loathed having received the award, it was told that he proudly displayed it and showed it off to his friends in private.
Pygmalion is one of Howard's great masterpieces. His facial expressions can't be beat, his silvery voice cannot be overlooked, and his physical magnanimity is priceless. Shaw personally picked Hiller to play Eliza and it's crystal clear why he did. She is a treat to watch as a poor flower girl-turned-duchess. Other praiseworthy performances include Wilfrid Lawson as Alfred Doolittle, Marie Lohr as Mrs. Higgins, and Scott Sunderland as Colonel Pickering (Oh, do be reasonable!)
DVD features: Presented in classic black and white. Comes with chapters and a Color Bar menu (don't know what that's all about!)
Pygmalion is a classic! Do not pass up the opportunity to place this in your collection. Whether you're a Howard fan or not, Pygmalion is a movie the whole family will enjoy.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Film -- the Drama of My Fair Lady, August 10, 2000
By 
Dan Sherman (Alexandria, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Pygmalion (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
This is an enchanting film for which George Bernard Shaw won an Oscar (which I believe he displayed proudly) for best screenplay after adapting the play "Pygmalion." It is true that the movie lacks the grand production values of "My Fair Lady," but it is much closer to the drama that Shaw had in mind. The dialogue is much richer than "My Fair Lady," which still managed to keep much of the language of the play and some of the movie.
Like many of Shaw's plays, it is built around his pet ideas -- here (in a simple form) the notion that class distinctions are not genuine and could be overcome through education. Unlike some of Shaw's plays which read like socialist tracts, this one has very human characters who keep your interest throughout (in contrast to "Major Barabara" which was a rather tedious movie).
For me, Wendy Hiller make a marvelous Eliza Doolittle. Although Leslie Howard is very good (and presumably what Shaw had in mind), it is hard to forget the bluster Rex Harrison -- a great actor himself -- brought to the role of Professor Higgins. Hiller brings a wonderful dignity and pathos to the role of Eliza Doolittle. The rest of the cast is very good and the sets are very authentically set in Edwardian England.
This is definite buy if you like Shaw, theatre in general, good movies from the 30s, or want to see a richer version of "My Fair Lady."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Shavian Delight, December 9, 1999
This review is from: Pygmalion [VHS] (VHS Tape)
PYGMALION (the play and the movie) has in recent years been almost entirely overshadowed by MY FAIR LADY (the musical play and the movie musical). To be sure, MY FAIR LADY is a superlative work, but so is this adaptation of G.B. Shaw's play. Indeed, Lerner and Leowe knew a good thing when they saw it; they actually based MY FAIR LADY on this screenplay rather than the original play. A magnificent cast headed by Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard find all the vibrancy in Shaw's prose. Interestingly, Shaw fully approved of Hiller (whom he'd seen play Eliza on stage), but originally wanted Charles Laughton to play Higgins. Nevertheless, Howard is excellent as the brilliant, infuriating phonetics professor.PYGMALION is an absolute delight, but Shavian purists may well grumble at the film'sending, which is totally different from the play's (and was also used in MY FAIR LADY). How producer Gabriel Pascal convinced Shaw to go along with that is anyone's guess!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get the Essential Art House edition instead of this one, October 25, 2010
This review is from: Pygmalion (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I won't dwell on the wonderful qualities of this adaptation of Shaw's most famous theater piece. I won't tell you how superb the actors are. I won't insist that this film is a must for your collection. I'll simply recommend that you purchase the Essential Art House DVD rather than paying a premium for this edition, which virtually the same disc. There are no extras on either, and spending up to twice as much for a brief essay on an insert is simply not reasonable.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars THE FIRST DISAPPOINTMENT FROM CRITERION..., November 21, 2000
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pygmalion (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Until now, Criterion has been recognized as the undisputed leader in film resoration for transfer to DVD. With PYGMALION, they make a very disappointing stumble. The package states that this is a "gorgeous new transfer, with digitally restored image and sound". I'm sure this is what they intended, but the product does not reflect either restored image or sound. It is, on the whole a good print, though not at all up to the normal Criterion quality. It is - in places - terrible. And the sound is all over the map. Yes, it can be heard, but because of a poor audio mix, one has to raise and lower the volume with almost every scene. Criterion remains by far the best distributor of DVDs, but they should be told by their consumers that in this case, the product is plainly not deserving of the Criterion name.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Shavian comedy, November 3, 2005
By 
Bomojaz (South Central PA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pygmalion (DVD-R)
George Bernard Shaw wrote the screenplay based on his own very successful stage play of 1913, and he even took an Academy Award for it - and deservedly so. It's a crackerjack production, his best on screen.

Leslie Howard plays the overbearing Professor Higgins and Wendy Hiller is the Cockney flower girl transformed into a "lady." Both are perfect, and the whole thing is a lot better than the musical it became (MY FAIR LADY). It sparkles throughout, and the Shavian jabs at middle class society ("Marriage - it's the proper thing, but it's not natural") are wonderful and are just icing on an already rich cake. Definitely worth a watch.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! It has stood the test of time -- and triumphed!, January 9, 2002
This review is from: Pygmalion [VHS] (VHS Tape)
It started out as a play by George Bernard Shaw based on the Greek myth of a man who created a statue and then fell in love with it. The play, which was a spoof on the British upper class, was an immediate success and several movie versions followed. This 1938 version, in black and white, was nominated for four academy awards in 1939 and won an Oscar for best screenplay. Later, it was adapted to the musical hit, "My Fair Lady." The rest, as they say, is history. But Pygmalion should certainly not be forgotten.
The cast is excellent. Leslie Howard is perfect as Henry Higgins, the professor of dialects who transforms a flower girl into a lady. And Wendy Hiller is sensational as Eliza Doolittle. There's a certain regal freshness and her British authenticity comes across beautifully. Even though "the rain in Spain" is spoken, rather than sung, it still keeps the same quality. And there is music throughout as background, lively original music created especially for the film. The supporting cast was excellent too. I particularly loved the performance by Wilfrid Larson as Eliza's father. The film moved fast and kept me totally captivated. The costumes were wonderful and the timing for the comedic moments perfect. I found myself laughing out loud in places and smiling to myself throughout. Certainly, this film has stood the test of time and even though it will always be compared to the musical we all know and love, I must say that Pygmalion can definitely stand on its own. Give yourself a treat and check it out. Highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Fair Lady, October 17, 2005
By 
City Of Evanston "djpauly" (EVANSTON, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pygmalion (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Before she ever sang "Wouldn't It Be Loverly", Eliza was selling

flowers in Covent Garden and crucifying the king's English. Wendy Hiller made her film debut as Eliza and is magnificent. She

was nominated for an Oscar. As Henry Higgins, Leslie Howard is

absolute perfection. The supporting cast is ideal. Alan Jay Lerner adapted Shaw's screenplay nearly word for word for MY FAIR LADY. In fact when Leslie Howard says "I've grown accustom to her face and appearance" we nearly add "it almost makes the day begin." The Criterion dvd is a superb transfer. Cathleen Nesbitt has a bit part in the Embassy Ball scene.

part at the Embassy Ball and you can also see Anthony Quayle in

a quick shot. One of the best. I watch this more than I watch

MY FAIR LADY.
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Pygmalion (The Criterion Collection)
Pygmalion (The Criterion Collection) by Anthony Asquith (DVD - 2000)
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