Tuesday, April 2, 2013
i could have danced all night
It's a musical-heavy week for me as a film seminar course that I'm taking is hosting a symposium on Hollywood film musicals this weekend. Lots of work, lots of fun (I'm quite the nerd, I know -- academia excites me!) In addition to the symposium, I have a presentation on My Fair Lady, the 1964 mega-hit starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. Most of the discussion is about the practice of vocal dubbing brought to light in the film (Audrey Hepburn, despite having sung vocals in previous films like Funny Face and Breakfast at Tiffany's, was famously dubbed in parts by Marni Nixon, the "ghostest with the mostest" who had provided vocals for Deborah Kerr in The King and I and Natalie Wood in West Side Story) and it's been very interesting reading about the politics of the practice and the general goings-on behind the scenes for this film. Rex Harrison originated the Higgins role on Broadway with Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle, but this was pre-Mary Poppins, so Andrews was passed over for the role. Harrison did his signature talk-singing through the film to accommodate his vocal range, but I find it so interesting that this is overlooked in favor of the 'scandal' regarding Audrey's vocals. It was rather horrid -- studio execs intentionally misled Audrey into thinking she would be doing her own vocals, even having her record everything, with the intention of Nixon re-dubbing everything. The final result is a mix of Marni and Audrey, and while I'm still very torn about the dubbing, I am the first to admit that the final product is a delightful film.
The fashion is obviously incredibly fabulous (the race horse scene is the ultimate example of the wild looks in this film) -- but it's one of the few instances where Audrey's costumes on film were not made by Givenchy. For My Fair Lady, fashion photographer and designer Cecil Beaton was hired to do the designs. The white beaded dress that Eliza wears to the royal ball is so gorgeous and I maintain that only Audrey could pull off wearing it with pounds of diamonds and a giant pineapple updo. I'm a musical lover, so of course I adore the songs -- "I Could Have Danced All Night" in particular.
Hopefully, over the next few days, I can include more musicals that I am inspired by during the course of the symposium -- I know that The Sound of Music is on the agenda, and I believe discussions about Ann Miller, Julie Andrews and the 1967 version of Camelot will also be covered, which I am particularly intrigued by!