Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Rose Hips and 'My Fair Lady'


We usually deadhead our roses all through the blooming season, but this year, as the flowers were winding down, we left some of them behind to let the hips form. This is one of them -- about as big as a ping pong ball and bright orange. Another bush has smaller red ones. Colorful!

I spent yesterday morning wandering around the garden doing some photography and taking care of a few little tasks like filling the bird feeder.


There's a very curious little robin who often appears when we're out there. It flits around and lingers nearby, waiting for us to dig or move a flowerpot, thus exposing lots of worms and insects.


In late morning, Olga and I went to the cemetery. We walked several loops and Olga, of course, chased squirrels. There were lots of them out and about -- getting ready for winter, maybe? After we'd gone around three times Olga still didn't want to leave.


Weirdly, after not seeing any sign of the naked dolls on our last few walks, a tiny fragment of one of them was resting on the gravestone they'd decorated. A disembodied face! Ghoulish! Where did she go, and how did she (or part of her, at least) get back? Where are her friends? It's a Halloween story in the making.

In the afternoon, I wanted to watch an old Technicolor movie -- something overly long with elaborate costumes and painfully outdated politics. I realized I'd never seen "My Fair Lady," with Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, which definitely fits the bill. So we cranked it up, and managed to sit through all three hours.

Totally sexist, of course, and Hepburn's overblown cockney accent is terrible, and Harrison is old enough to be her father. But some of the songs are great, the costumes were quite lush and the production numbers could be temporarily amusing.

I developed a soft spot for the music of "My Fair Lady" because my mother had this record (at left), which came out in 1956. She never played it -- just as she never played any of her records, most of which were classical -- but while growing up, I found it in her stack. I learned the songs (just three, because this album only contained selections, not the full musical score) and sang along with Mattie Marshal to "I Could Have Danced All Night" and with Don Rodney to "On the Street Where You Live." At some point, Mom gave me the record. It eventually went to Goodwill with all the rest of my vinyl, but it lives in my memory. I found that picture of the album cover online.

So, anyway, the movie was mildly fun to watch, in its somewhat plodding way. When I was a freshman in high school the annual musical was "My Fair Lady," and though I wasn't involved in the production I'm sure I saw it on the stage. I don't remember it at all. Do schools still perform it, I wonder? Or is it too dated?

I also wonder if anyone's ever done a gender-swapped version, where an esteemed female professor tries to transform a young working-class man into polite society? That would turn the gender-based power dynamics on their head. What would that look like? Hmmm...

25 comments:

jennede said...

I saw My Fair Lady at the Lincoln Centre in 2018 with Lauren Ambrose, Henry Haddon-Paton. If they changed any of the original lines from the play then it was minimal. But the version was very much from a feminist perspective, all about the growth and liberation of Eliza. GBShaw was a genius and very much ahead of his time.

Alphie Soup said...

The curious little robin has learned that food is to be had if it is in the right place at the right time. Lovely photo.
Alphie

Steve Reed said...

Jennede: Interesting! I'm glad it's still being produced. I think what struck me about the movie is that although it's nominally about Eliza's growth and development, she is still very much a project of the man. Even when she rebels against his control and authority she eventually comes back to him, partly because she doesn't know what else to do with herself. (Plus the whole young-woman-older-man dynamic.) I've never seen Shaw's "Pygmalion."

Alphie: Absolutely! That robin is always around when we're out in the garden.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Any chance of you posting a video of you singing "I Could Have Danced All Night"? With his musical proficiency Dave could easily work out some accompaniment. It is very likely that the video would go viral on the internet and it would surely cheer up a lot of people in these stressful times.

Peter said...

One of the first albums I bought back in the '50s was My Fair Lady in 45 rpm the Broadway cast Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews. I played it so often I could lip-synch every song. Drove my family crazy

gz said...

Robins are highly territorial!
Wasn't My Fair Lady based on a play by GBS?

Mary said...

I was very fortunate to have seen Julie Andrews (Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, etc.) in My Fair Lady on the stage at Theatre Royal Drury Lane back in 1958. Was 8 years old. It is one of my fondest theatre memories. The best thing about growing up in London was the fact that my parents took me to many theatre performances--a time when the cost of a ticket was not prohibitive. Must say, I was so disgusted that Julie Andrews wasn't selected for the movie version that I didn't watch it until about 10 years ago. Nothing against Audrey Hepburn (wonderful actor)...but she was a poor substitute for Julie Andrews.

Ursula said...

Never mind Higgins being "old enough to be her father". My father was, still is, too young to be my father.

"A gender swapped version"? It happens. It's certainly feasible. As Simon Cowell (the actor) says in in his autobiographical book of the same title: "Love is where it falls". Look at Macron. What are twenty five years age difference here or there? Gulp.

To me the whole story smacks of power play and that is, as you hint, where gender does come into it. I met my future (English) husband in the motherland. He loved my country of origin. Would have gladly set up tent there. However, eventually, he decided that I (his intended) would always have the "upper hand" (his words) because of lingo, whatever, and relocated back to England. What the eff? So, now you know why I ended up in the UK, with a superior grasp of the apostrophe and split infinitive. At least he was only three years older than me.

U

Ursula said...

Sorry - should read Simon Callow (the actor).

Greetings to your Robin,
U

Ms. Moon said...

I think I watched that movie years ago. I'd like to see a gender flip version. The songs are beautiful although I do think it was quite sexist.
Your little robin- so sweet. It's truly fall in London, isn't it?

Edna B said...

In its day, that was a wonderful movie. I watch the older movies a lot. They were more family oriented that a lot of what comes out today. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

Moving with Mitchell said...

I must admit I've always enjoyed My Fair Lady... although once I grew up and became a bit more aware, I appreciated how sexist and misogynistic the entire story is. That being said, I would love to see a gender-swapped version! Broadway Backwards could start teasing some of the musical numbers.

Red said...

Rose hips? When we were kids we had to pick rose hips and Mom made a syrup. We complained bitterly about having to pick berries with all the whatever that scratch you.

elf said...

GZ: Yes, and in the GBS version, she leaves him for Freddy. As she should!
Steve, these blogs are lovely. I rarely comment, but keep at it!

Sharon said...

What a great idea to produce a new gender switched production. I'd like to see that.
Olga must have been enjoying the chase and didn't want it to end. And that doll's head is rather creepy. I guess it's the creepy time of year.

ellen abbott said...

I was 14 when the movie came out. since I have seen the movie it must be one of the ones my parents took us to because once an adult it wouldn't have been a choice. I enjoyed it as I recall and never gave it another thought. it was also pre my own enlightenment.

your robin looks related to a warbler with that small pointy beak. when the city put sidewalks in on our street I had them dump the dirt over the fence and the day I was screening it to get all the garbage out, as well as the grubs, a mockingbird stated hanging out as I would through the grubs over the fence. it would swoop down and snatch them up, flyy off and return so I guess it was feeding a nest full of babies.

robin andrea said...

Oh wow, you remind me that I listened to the music of "My Fair Lady" all the time when I was growing up. My parents loved that musical. Yes, we had the album too and cleaned the house on Saturday mornings while listening to it.
Love seeing that robin there. So different from our robins here. What a little beauty.

Angelicastar said...

Good morning(here) Steve. It's probably evening where you are. If I was in London I would be running in your garden with that little robin eating grains. (lol) The doctor gave me some pills so I can get my appetite back after chemo and they have me eating everything I can find. Except today.....I bought chicken. Still hungry. Dave blackberry cobbler is also on my mind. (lol) Have a great day, you and Dave.

37paddington said...

Love love love your idea of a gender flipped version of my fair lady. My fair man? In any case, someone needs to get on that stat.

Andrew said...

While I loved it when I saw My Fair Lady, I don't think it would hold up very well now. What a great idea to have a gender reversal.

Kirk said...

You said it's sexist, and I can't argue with that, but George Bernard Shaw's original play that the musical was based on, Pygmalion, ends with Eliza Doolittle gaining her independence. So it was ahead of its time, too ahead of its time for the makers of the musical adaptation.

Steve Reed said...

YP: Oh, I don't think anyone wants that. :)

Peter: Ha! How did you even know about it?

GZ: Yes! It's based on "Pygmalion," which is apparently more progressive than its mid-century musical adaptation.

Mary: Wow! What a fantastic theater memory. I agree Julie Andrews would have been much better in the part, but apparently the fact that she wasn't chosen allowed her to make "Mary Poppins," which won her an Oscar. So Julie emerged the winner!

Ursula: Well, that doesn't seem quite fair. But you've definitely mastered English even better than many English speakers!

Ms Moon: Yeah, the songs make the show, really.

Edna: I love old movies too -- AND old musicals -- but this one was a bit mediocre for me.

Mitchell: The music makes the show, as far as I'm concerned.

Red: A syrup out of rose hips?! Interesting. Maybe we should try that! NOT

Elf: Now see, I did not know that. I kept saying at the end, "Stay with Freddy! Stay with Freddy!" I'm glad GBS saw it my way! I think a relationship between Eliza and Higgins is just a little bit bleeech.

Sharon: Time to find financing! (Because stage shows are doing so well these days, LOL)

Ellen: It's superficially entertaining if you don't think about it too much. Our robin must have taken lessons from your mockingbird!

Robin: It's good housecleaning music!

Angelicastar: Well I'm glad you're eating well and taking care of yourself. I'd mail you cobbler if I could. :)

37P: "My Handsome Lad," maybe?

Andrew: Apparently Emma Thompson wrote a script for a new version at the beginning of this decade, but it never got produced. I wonder what her version was like?!

Kirk: I wish now that I had read "Pygmalion," because from what you and Elf and Jennede said above -- and what I read elsewhere after writing this post -- it's much more progressive than its musical adaptation. Eliza becoming independent would have been the best ending of all, but the mid-century moralists just couldn't allow that, I suppose. I wonder why they didn't let her fall in love with Freddy, though? Why does she have to go back to Old Man Higgins?

Colette said...

Growing rose hips, what fun.

Jolie said...

My oldest son attended a school of the arts for high school where he majored in technical theater. His senior year, he was the technical director for . . . My Fair Lady. This was Fall of 2018 (he graduated in May of 2019). It was a wonderful production, but at the end Eliza just left. She did not come back and the play ended that way!

N2 said...

I, too, was lucky to see the original cast, Julie Andrews (Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, etc.) in My Fair Lady at the Drury Lane Theater, though I think it was in 1959, when I was 10. My Air Force Colonel father was stationed at High Wycombe AFB in England. We lived in Hertfordshire and took the train up to London to see the show. We had this recording of the original cast, which I highly recommend, available online at youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtN2VHT1QT9Cmu2r-N37Rkp6slGjM_OUe. I learned all of the songs by playing the record over and over on our Phillips portable record player.

Though I grew up to be a feminist, I still love the music. I've been known to quote "Just You Wait" when appropriate.