re: lyrics (above) et al.
Posted by: peter3053 06:09 pm EDT 04/01/21
In reply to: re: The messy brilliance of the MY FAIR LADY film (VERY LONG!) - Michael_Portantiere 11:40 pm EDT 03/31/21

First, thank you Michael for a fabulous analysis which started such an illuminating thread - so stimulating and precise!

For me, one of the more egregious faults of the lyrics is this attempt at rhyme from "You Did It!" (pardon if I've missed some reference to it above):

Her English is too good, he said,
Which clearly indicates that she is foreign.
Whereas others are instructed in their native language
English people aren'.

(Quoted from the appendicized lyrics published in "On The Street Where I Live" by Alan Jay Lerner)

Where to begin? First, in the English accent, "foreign" and "aren't" don't rhyme at all, because whereas in New York "aren't" is pronounced as a two-syllable word and, yes, in New York does have an "a" sound that sounds more like the "aw" sound of "foreign", in England the word is pronounced as a single syllable word, sounding like this: "Uhnt". Unlike the Irish and Scots (and Elizabethan English) who influenced the strong "r" sound in the American accent, the English have much more clipped pronunciations and fewer dipthongs, as we all know.

Second, as published by Lerner himself, he cheats on the alleged rhyme by dropping the final "t" of "aren't" - for no reason. (Keeping it wouldn't have helped!)

If Higgins were attempting to imitate the accent of Kaparthy at this point, it would mean that the foreigner learned his English in America ("where they haven't used it in years!). But then why would Higgins pick up on this most unusual accenting of Kaparthy when there is no evidence of such a peculiarity in the scenes in which the man himself appears?

I suspect Lerner had a brief attack of the Yip Harburgs when he tried on this bit of "peculiarish" not so "grandish" whimsy!

One other moment in the film that appalls me is that during "Just You Wait" (apropos of the bad dubbing you identify above) Audrey Hepburn's mouth is clearly shaped to sing "Ha Ha Ha, 'Enry 'Higgins" whereas the dub sound is "Ho Ho Ho, 'Enry 'Higgins", which happens the second time she does that bit of the song just after she stands up out of the chair.

Who was it who said that, in George Cukor's hands, "My Fair Lady" had "not so much been preserved on film but rather, embalmed"? Embalmed, with several inherited flaws.

But like so many, none of these matters prevent me from loving the whole glorious show, which just goes to prove that humans can love the imperfect sometimes with even more zeal than the perfect ... if we ever find such a thing.

Previous: re: The messy brilliance of the MY FAIR LADY film (VERY LONG!) - Michael_Portantiere 11:40 pm EDT 03/31/21
Next: re: lyrics (above) et al. - Michael_Portantiere 12:32 pm EDT 04/02/21

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