MovieChat Forums > My Fair Lady (1964) Discussion > How do you explain to your daughters...

How do you explain to your daughters...


So, I just showed My Fair Lady to my two pre-teen daughters. Lovely film. Every bit as good as I remembered. Mostly fine for the family.

But it led to the slightly uncomfortable discussion of ... why did Eliza go back to Henry at the end? Because, let's face it, if my daughters ever brought home a guy that treated them the way Higgins treats Eliza, I'd be tempted to throw him out of the house and would start trying to figure out how to convince my daughter to dump him.

So exactly how do we justify this movie as a "happy" ending?

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Very easily. It was the era. Eliza was not going to become a doctor, lawyer or lobbyist. Marriage was basically the only career choice for women back then. At least with Henry he wasn't going to touch her physically. She could live there, have a nice room and good food and pleasant conversation.

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Well, no. He built her up, she made a decision that he was a douche to her, she left, he came crawling back to her, she gave him the finger, he realized that he was a douche and she realized that he had something she needed.

So, I don't see it as a misogynistic thing at all. She was ready to stand on her own two feet and went back to him of her own accord. She didn't do it out of necessity.

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But ... what did Higgins have that Eliza needed? A sharp tongue?

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Ooooo-KAY. This is a family board. None of that.

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[deleted]

marriage was not the only career choice for women. Many women worked for a living, and with her new accent, Eliza could have got a job in a flower shop for instance, or with her improved accent as a telephonist (you had to have a good speaking voice for that) or even taught elocution. It is true few women were doctors or lawyers - but how many wome are actually going to be doctors or lawyers nowadays? far more women will be working in shops or offices or doing other jobs that are not so glamorous. Eliza went back to higgins because she loved him, not because she had no other options.

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"So exactly how do we justify this movie as a "happy" ending?"

I don't see their relationship as being romantic. I see him as being like an uncle for her -- or possibly a teacher, or employer.

The idea of the 2 of them getting married, makes me want to violently barf -- and then afterwards violently barf, again.



_______
How was your day, Paul?
Yes, I also had a pleasant day.
I went working and shopping.

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I don't see their relationship as being romantic. I see him as being like an uncle for her -- or possibly a teacher, or employer.

The idea of the 2 of them getting married, makes me want to violently barf -- and then afterwards violently barf, again.
Well, I can see how your thoughts might have something to do with their age-difference, which didn't really exist in the 1938 non-musical version. Still, I think they are a fantastic couple (in both versions), because they had a true, tender affection for each-other that was wrapped up in fuzzy pride. And, oh how lovely, when revealed! I love that kind of slow-burning care.

Please excuse typos/funny wording; I use speech-recognition that doesn't always recognize!

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The age difference is a factor, but it is not nearly as big a problem as the fact that he treated her terribly.

_________

Boba Fett survived the Sarlaac Pit and married a woman named Smur.

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Um, have them read the original play?

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"So exactly how do we justify this movie as a "happy" ending?"

I don't see their relationship as being romantic. I see him as being like an uncle for her -- or possibly a teacher, or employer.

The idea of the 2 of them getting married, makes me want to violently barf -- and then afterwards violently barf, again.


I too don't see the ending as romantic in the least. I do believe Eliza develops a sort of infatuation for the man who plucked her out of the gutter [as cruel as he was and is.] but by the end of the movie [and book/play], Eliza is supposed to have grown out of it and is left with a bittersweet affection.

As for Henry Higgins, he is depicted in all versions as having a bit of a mother-complex, in that all woman are forever vastly inferior to his mother. He has never and will never be physically interested in a female, let alone romantically and that suits him just fine. His affection for Eliza is one of familiar comfort and that of an egotistical creator who wishes to possess and admire his work for purely selfish gratification, forgoing the feelings of said 'creation'.

The fact that this went over to the head of so many people from the start is baffling to me, because I saw the complexity clear as day, but apparently not many others did or have.

G.B. Shaw was left no choice but to write a sequel of sorts and tack it on to the end of the published work a few years after it's release. He explains why such a thing as a romantic or living relationship between Eliza and Higgins would never work and should never be and then says what happens to the characters after the events of the play in a couple of short sentences.

He ends with, "Eliza is still a part of Wimpole Street and she is still interested vaguely in Higgins, but she keeps him at a distance and holds his derisions of Freddy to a minimum. She is also very much beloved by Colonel Pickering, and she returns his love. In Shaw's words, Eliza "likes Freddy and she likes the Colonel; and she does not like Higgins and Mr. Doolittle. Galatea never does quite like Pygmalion: his relation to her is too godlike to be altogether agreeable."

[basically, if she loves anyone she loves colonel pickering, so stick that in ur pipe and smoke it. :b]

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This is a typical "Hollywood ending". The trivia section has great information about the original intent of the author and how the ending was changed without authorization. Perhaps you could read the original play with them or at least see the movie "Pygmalion" together.

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The movie Pygmalion ends exactly the same way as My Fair Lady.

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Waitaminit! Higgins offered to advance her the cash to open a flower shop, didn't he? Assuming she made a go of it, that meant she could have an independent income, something most women of that period didn't have.
"May I bone your kipper, Mademoiselle?"

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a lot of women did have independent incomes. women worked in shops, factories, offices, as teachers, nurses, etc. I had two geeat aunts who were music teachers in this era for example, and my grandmother was apprenticed to a milliner. many women had to work.

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I watched it just now for the first time, the first musical I ever sat all the way through. The ending is an absolute shocker straight out of a horror movie.

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Regarding the ending - I think it's fairly safe to assume that Higgins is not going to mistreat Eliza - either emotionally or physically. By the end of the movie he realizes just how much he cares for her, and it's as much a shock to him as it is to anyone. A large part of his behavior during that devastating post-ball scene is because he's experiencing feelings he doesn't know how to deal with. It's not that he's a bad guy (despite his prickly demeanor), it's just that he's lived a very quiet, ordered life and is trying to cope with this new development. Like he says to Eliza, it's not that he treats her badly, but whether she's every seen him treat anyone else better.

As to whether or not they end up together, Alan J. Lerner wrote a forward at the beginning of the script: "For the published version of Pygmalion, Shaw wrote a preface and an epilogue which he called a sequel. I have omitted the preface because the information contained therein is less pertinent to My Fair Lady than it is to Pygmalion. I have omitted the sequel because in it Shaw explains how Eliza ends not with Higgins but with Freddy and - Shaw and Heaven forgive me! - I am not certain he is right.

And here are the stage directions at the end when Eliza returns to Higgins:

Eliza (gently): I washed my face and hands before I come, I did.
(Higgins straightens up. If he could but let himself, his face would radiate unmistakable relief and joy. If he could but let himself, he would run to her. Instead, he leans back with a contented sigh pushing his hat forward till it almost covers his face)
Higgins (softly): Eliza? Where the devil are my slippers?
(There are tears in Eliza's eyes. She understands)
The curtain falls slowly.

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You simply tell them they are lucky they now have the ability to make F U money especially if they work for me!

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You could start by telling them that the story was written in 1914, and that "kick ass grrrrls" simply did not exist then.

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It has nothing to do with that, God, what an ignorant statement.

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There were plenty of independent women in 1914, and Eliza could certainly be one if she wanted to. She came back to Higgins because she loved him.

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Try explaining women in porno films and degrading sex online first.







"'Extremely High Voltage.' Well, I don't need safety gloves, because I'm Homer Simpsonzzzzzz--" - Frank Grimes

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Shaw's postscript essay ''What Happened Afterwards'' in which he argued against Eliza and Higgins getting together is pretty funny. Reminds me of authors responding to fan criticism on social media nowadays.

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It's quite literally a "Hollywood Ending", as the original play had Eliza leaving Higgins, marrying the good-natured boob Freddy, and taking Higgins up on his original promise to fund a flower shop and get her off the streets. But that wasn't a happy enough ending for the movies, so they had to have Eliza come back to Higgins even though she had no desire to be one of "three old bachelors together" (so gay), and wasn't the sort of person to cave in like that. But they wanted something that could pass as "romantic", no matter how implausible or disappointing.

Although I can't say that Shaw's original ending was all that great either, he had her walk out, and in his postscript rant he said Eliza married Freddy and they opened a flower shop with Higgins's help. Now I can't see a man like Freddy being happy to have married down and assist in his wife's shop instead of having the sort of career he'd hoped for, but then I don't think Shaw ever understood heterosexuals terribly well. Frankly, this is a story that's doomed to have a weak ending no matter what they did, but I think the best possible way to wrap it up would be for Eliza to leave Higgins with her dignity intact, thereby winning Higgins's respect, and to open up her flower shop on her own and say she wasn't going to marry anyone until she found a man who bloody well suited her.

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