Pygmalion (1938 film)
Overview
 
Pygmalion is a 1938 British film based on the George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 play of the same title
Pygmalion (play)
Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts is a play by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of...

, and adapted by him for the screen. It stars Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard (actor)
Leslie Howard was an English stage and film actor, director, and producer. Among his best-known roles was Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind and roles in Berkeley Square , Of Human Bondage , The Scarlet Pimpernel , The Petrified Forest , Pygmalion , Intermezzo , Pimpernel Smith...

 and Wendy Hiller
Wendy Hiller
Dame Wendy Margaret Hiller DBE was an Academy Award-winning English film and stage actress, who enjoyed a varied acting career that spanned nearly sixty years. The writer Joel Hirschorn, in his 1984 compilation Rating the Movie Stars, described her as "a no-nonsense actress who literally took...

.

The film was a financial and critical success, and won an Oscar for best screenplay
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

 and three more nominations. The screenplay was later adapted into the 1956 theatrical musical My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady is a musical based upon George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe...

, which in turn led to the 1964 film of the same name
My Fair Lady (film)
My Fair Lady is a 1964 musical film adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical, of the same name, based on the 1938 film adaptation of the original stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. The ballroom scene and the ending were taken from the previous film adaptation , rather than from...

.
The Hungarian producer Gabriel Pascal
Gabriel Pascal
Gabriel Pascal was a Hungarian film producer and director.Born 1894 in Arad, Austria-Hungary , Pascal was the first film producer to bring the plays of George Bernard Shaw successfully to the screen. His most famous production was Pygmalion, for which Pascal himself received an Academy Award...

 wished to create a set of films based on Shaw's works, beginning with Pygmalion, and went to see Shaw in person to gain permission to do so.
Encyclopedia
Pygmalion is a 1938 British film based on the George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 play of the same title
Pygmalion (play)
Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts is a play by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of...

, and adapted by him for the screen. It stars Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard (actor)
Leslie Howard was an English stage and film actor, director, and producer. Among his best-known roles was Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind and roles in Berkeley Square , Of Human Bondage , The Scarlet Pimpernel , The Petrified Forest , Pygmalion , Intermezzo , Pimpernel Smith...

 and Wendy Hiller
Wendy Hiller
Dame Wendy Margaret Hiller DBE was an Academy Award-winning English film and stage actress, who enjoyed a varied acting career that spanned nearly sixty years. The writer Joel Hirschorn, in his 1984 compilation Rating the Movie Stars, described her as "a no-nonsense actress who literally took...

.

The film was a financial and critical success, and won an Oscar for best screenplay
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

 and three more nominations. The screenplay was later adapted into the 1956 theatrical musical My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady is a musical based upon George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe...

, which in turn led to the 1964 film of the same name
My Fair Lady (film)
My Fair Lady is a 1964 musical film adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical, of the same name, based on the 1938 film adaptation of the original stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. The ballroom scene and the ending were taken from the previous film adaptation , rather than from...

.

Adaptation

The Hungarian producer Gabriel Pascal
Gabriel Pascal
Gabriel Pascal was a Hungarian film producer and director.Born 1894 in Arad, Austria-Hungary , Pascal was the first film producer to bring the plays of George Bernard Shaw successfully to the screen. His most famous production was Pygmalion, for which Pascal himself received an Academy Award...

 wished to create a set of films based on Shaw's works, beginning with Pygmalion, and went to see Shaw in person to gain permission to do so. Shaw was reluctant to allow a film adaptation of Pygmalion owing to the low quality of previous film adaptations of his works, but Pascal managed to convince him (on the condition Shaw retained full control over the adaptation) and later went on to also adapt Major Barbara, Caesar and Cleopatra
Caesar and Cleopatra (1945 film)
Caesar and Cleopatra is a 1945 British, Technicolor, biographical, romantic comedy film directed by Gabriel Pascal and starring Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh. It was adapted from a 1901 play, Caesar and Cleopatra by George Bernard Shaw...

and Androcles and the Lion.

The resulting Pygmalion scenario by Cecil Lewis
Cecil Lewis
Cecil Arthur Lewis MC was a British fighter pilot who flew in World War I. He went on to co-found the BBC and enjoy a long career as a writer....

 and WP Lipscomb removed exposition unnecessary outside a theatrical context and added new scenes and dialogue by Shaw himself. Ian Dalrymple
Ian Dalrymple
Ian Dalrymple was a British screenwriter, film director and producer.- Biography :Born at Johannesburg, South Africa, he was educated at Cambridge University. Initially, he worked as an editor at Gaumont-British pictures and Gainsborough Pictures, later turning to screenwriting...

, Anatole de Grunwald
Anatole de Grunwald
Anatole "Tolly" de Grunwald was a British film producer and screenwriter.Anatole de Grunwald was born in Petrograd , Russia, the son of a diplomat in the service of Tsar Nicholas II. He was seven years old when his father was forced to flee with his family to England during the 1917 Bolshevik...

 and Kay Walsh
Kay Walsh
Kay Walsh was an English actress and dancer. She grew up in Pimlico, raised by her grandmother....

 also made uncredited contributions to the screenplay. A long ballroom sequence was added, introducing an entirely new character, Count Aristid Karpathy (seen both here and in the musical My Fair Lady, named as Professor Zoltan Karpathy – mentioned in the final scene of the original play, but with no name or onstage appearance), written wholly by Shaw himself. Against Shaw's wishes, a happy ending was added, with Eliza fleeing Higgins with Freddy but then returning to Higgins' home (though whether permanently or on her own terms is left deliberately ambiguous). Shaw and his fellow writers did, however, retain the controversial line "Not bloody likely!" from the playtext, making Hiller the first person to utter that swear word
Profanity
Profanity is a show of disrespect, or a desecration or debasement of someone or something. Profanity can take the form of words, expressions, gestures, or other social behaviors that are socially constructed or interpreted as insulting, rude, vulgar, obscene, desecrating, or other forms.The...

 in a British film and giving rise to adverts for the film reading "Miss Pygmalion? Not ****** likely!".

Cast and crew

Wendy Hiller was chosen by Shaw to play Eliza Doolittle after she had appeared in stage productions of Pygmalion
Pygmalion (play)
Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts is a play by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of...

and Saint Joan
Saint Joan (play)
Saint Joan is a play by George Bernard Shaw, based on the life and trial of Joan of Arc. Published not long after the canonization of Joan of Arc by the Roman Catholic Church, the play dramatises what is known of her life based on the substantial records of her trial. Shaw studied the transcripts...

– though the film's initial credits stated that this movie was introducing her, she had in fact already appeared on film in 1937's Lancashire Luck
Lancashire Luck
Lancashire Luck is a 1937 British film comedy, directed by Henry Cass. It is notable as the film debut of Wendy Hiller, and the first credited appearance of Nigel Stock.-Plot:...

. Shaw's choice for Higgins had been Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton was an English-American stage and film actor, screenwriter, producer and director.-Early life and career:...

. The film also includes the very first (short and uncredited) film appearance by Anthony Quayle
Anthony Quayle
Sir John Anthony Quayle, CBE was an English actor and director.-Early life:Quayle was born in Ainsdale, Southport, in Lancashire to a Manx family....

, as an Italian wigmaker. Cathleen Nesbitt
Cathleen Nesbitt
Cathleen Mary Nesbitt, CBE was an English stage and film actress.-Biography:Born in Cheshire, England in 1888, of Welsh and Irish descent, Nesbitt was educated in Lisieux, France, and at the Queen's University of Belfast and the Sorbonne...

, credited here as Kathleen Nesbitt in the role of 'A Lady,' would portray Mrs. Higgins in the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady is a musical based upon George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe...

18 years later.

The film's crew included David Lean
David Lean
Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

 (on his first major editing job; he also directed the montage sequence of Higgins teaching Eliza), set designer Laurence Irving
Laurence Irving (set designer)
Squadron Leader Laurence Irving OBE was an artist, book illustrator and Hollywood set designer and art director, the son of actors H. B. Irving and Dorothea Baird, and the biographer of his grandfather, the noted Victorian era actor Henry Irving. His sister was the actress and founder of the Keep...

 and the camera operator Jack Hildyard
Jack Hildyard
Jack Hildyard, B.S.C. was a British cinematographer who worked on more than 80 films during his career...

 (who later carried out the photography for Lean's The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British World War II film by David Lean based on The Bridge over the River Kwai by French writer Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William...

, The Sound Barrier
The Sound Barrier (film)
The Sound Barrier is a British 1952 film directed by David Lean. It is a fictional story about attempts by aircraft designers and test pilots to break the sound barrier. In the US it was retitled Breaking the Sound Barrier. David Lean's third and final film with his wife Ann Todd was also his first...

and Hobson's Choice).

Reception

The writers, including the uncredited Ian Dalrymple
Ian Dalrymple
Ian Dalrymple was a British screenwriter, film director and producer.- Biography :Born at Johannesburg, South Africa, he was educated at Cambridge University. Initially, he worked as an editor at Gaumont-British pictures and Gainsborough Pictures, later turning to screenwriting...

, won the 1939 Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

. The film also received nominations for Best Picture
Academy Award for Best Picture
The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...

, Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 (Howard) and Best Actress
Academy Award for Best Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 (Hiller). Shaw's reaction to his award was "It's an insult for them to offer me any honour, as if they had never heard of me before – and it's very likely they never have. They might as well send some honour to George
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

 for being King of England." However, his friend Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford was a Canadian-born motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...

 later reported seeing the award on display in his home.

At the 1938 Venice Film Festival
Venice Film Festival
The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi in 1932 as the "Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica", the festival has since taken place every year in late August or early September on the island of the...

, Leslie Howard won the Volpi Cup and the film was nominated for the Mussolini Cup.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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