The very first images we see in the classic musical and Best Picture winner My Fair Lady, before during and immediately after the opening credits are shots of flowers. Why the extensive florals? Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) is your main character is why. She's a flower girl. Not the kind what walks the aisle, mind you, but the kind what sells them on the street. Just so long as she stays off the curb. Almost as soon as we've seen her, dishevelled in the rain, she collides into dreamboat Freddy (it's still a mystery to me why she doesn't fall for him) and her wares go flying.
Look where you're going dear. Look where you're going. Two bunches of violets trod in the mud. A full day's wages.When Freddy apologizes and walks away she tries some recompense from his controlling mum
Oh, he's your son is he? Well if you'd done your duty by him as a mother, you wouldn't let him spoil a poor girl's flowers and run away without payin'Er... is she talking about what I think she's talking about? These old movies are so jammed with subtext.
Soon Eliza Dolittle is whisked off to live with Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) as a socioeconomic / linguistic experiment but also as an elaborate three hour plot meant to transform her into Audrey Hepburn who the audience already knows she is. These old movies are as meta as modern ones.
But in every stage of her progression from Eliza to Audrey she's surrounded in florals. When she first enters Professor Higgins worlds she's surrounding by floral wallpaper and framed by clocks with floral decors. All the while she's dreaming of obtaining work in a florist shop. But first she needs to speak more genteel like.
Then when we first see her bedroom during her romantic awakening ("I Could Have Danced All Night") every inch of it is covered with delicate wallpaper of tiny flowers. By the time she hits the races they've gone to her head... the top and sides of her head and inside, too. She's a florid handful
Somebody pinched it and what I say is, them has pinched it done her in!She only leaves the bloom and petals behind during her exquisite silver and shimmering coming out ball -- "I can tell that she was born
So she leaves Higgins in anger. Now, she's no longer Eliza (flower girl) nor Audrey (screen royalty) but the cinematic fusion that the movie is waiting for her to be: The elegant movie star who is still wistfully connected to the humbler origins of her character.
I sometimes wish the movie ended right there with Eliza on her own, ready to explore her new identity. Wrap it up before the Freddy romance and that dread dutiful wife business with Professor Higgins slippers. But then, I'm a sucker for melancholy and complicated endings. And I really hate those damn slippers. I've half a mind to shy them at Higgins myself.
Take your slippers and may you never have a day's luck with them!*