My Fair Lady 50th Anniversary Edition

Featured In Issue 201, November 2015

WSR Score5
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Paramount Home Entertainment
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My Fair Lady is the witty adaptation of the Broadway musical about elitist linguistic Professor Henry Higgins (Harrison), who takes a bet from his colleague Colonel Pickering that he can transform unrefined, sassy, dirty cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn) into a lady, and fool everyone into thinking she really is one, too! He does, and thus young aristocrat Freddy Eynsford-Hill (Brett) falls madly in love with her. But when Higgins takes all the credit and forgets to acknowledge her efforts, Eliza angrily leaves him for Freddy, and suddenly Higgins realizes he’s grown accustomed to her face and can’t really live without it. Winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture. The musical includes timeless songs such as “The Rain In Spain,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” and “Get Me To The Church On Time.” The packaging is in the form of a fold-out magnetic neo case. (Gary Reber)

Special features include the making-of featurette More Lovely Than Ever (SD 57:58); the 1963 production kick-off dinner (SD 23:20 ); the Los Angeles Premiere October 28, 1964 (SD 04:53); the British Premiere (SD 02:17); George Cukor directs Baroness Bina Rothschild (SD 02:39); a Rex Harrison Radio interview (SD 01:06); Production Tests (Lighting, Wilfred Hyde-White make-up, rain/set, Covent Garden lighting test) (SD 07:04); an alternate Higgins/Pickering screen test (HD ); alternate Audrey Hepburn vocals (“Show Me” [02:48] and :Wouldn’t It Be Lovely” [04:32]); galleries; “Comments On A Lady” by Andrew Lloyd Webber (01:04) and Martin Scorsese (01:19); the following theatrical featurettes: The Story Of A Lady (SD 05:05), Design For A Lady (SD 08:22), and The Fairest Fair Lady (SD 09:31); trailers; a teaser trailer with city tags; the pride trailer; an awards trailer; a theatrical reissue (poster illustration, reserved seas trailer, awards); awards (Rex Harrison BFI honor, Rex Harrison Golden Globe® acceptance speech, Academy Awards® ceremony highlights April 5, 1965); and a digital copy.

The 2.20:1 1080p AVC picture restoration is magnificent throughout, with a dynamic contrast and color palette that is virtually perfect. The full restoration of this classic film to its original 2.20:1 aspect ratio is credited to long-time Widescreen Review friend and Film Historian/Preservationist Robert A. Harris. The picture quality has never been more pristine and accurate. While originally photographed in Super Panavision 70®, the picture is gorgeously cinematic, with a touch of classic fine-film-grain texturing. The original 65-mm source photography has been restored in 4K from an 8K scan and reveals very fine detail throughout. Every set piece is magnificently presented, with impressive detail exhibited in facial features, hair, gorgeous gowns, and male attire, and object texture, such as in the black-and-gray-dominant streets of London and in Higgins’ warmly and intricately furnished home. Speaking of gowns, Eliza’s gown and hat at the horse race is stunningly beautiful ,with incredible black and white tones and red flower accents, and in other clothing in shades of white and gray. Cecil Beaton’s clothing textures are impressively rendered with exquisite detail in every stitch and seam. The variations in contrasting shades are wonderful. The color palette is strongly saturated, due to the Technicolor® treatment, with rich and warm hues and extraordinary deep blacks. The brightest costumes are remarkably well contrasted with beautiful primaries, with no fading. This is absolutely the finest presentation that My Fair Lady has EVER had in a home video release. This is definitely a collector’s piece and a true reference Blu-ray Disc™ the pays tribute to an era long gone. (Gary Reber)

The 96 kHz Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack appears to be a 5.1-channel soundtrack, but with the two surrounds directed to the back channels and a subtle duplicate of the front two channels. After all, this was originally a monaural soundtrack, which here is repurposed. Remarkably, the music sounds wonderful, with a wide soundstage presence that subtly extends to the back channels and is slightly enhanced with low-frequency extension in the .1 LFE. Lyrics are also impressive, with excellent vocal clarity throughout, as is the dialogue, which is directionalized with good spatial integration. Atmospherics are nicely integrated, but this is pretty much a dialogue, orchestral and song focused presentation. This is a remarkable restoration, with superb sonic clarity and a sense of stereo soundstage presence, with merited clarity and resolution. (Gary Reber)