George Bernard Shaw's play, PYGMALION, which takes its title from the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who fell in love with a statue of his own making, was a hit on the London stage in 1912. The transition to film was co-directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, who also stars as Henry Higgins, the vainglorious snob who claims he can turn a guttersnipe into a Lady. Wendy Hiller is smart and witty, giving as good as she gets, as Eliza Doolittle, the flower girl Higgins takes from the street and tries to pass off as a Duchess. Hiller and Howard play off each other with a delightful spark. The play opens up well for the screen, as evidenced in the dreamy sequence when Eliza attends a society party, a scene smoothly edited by the young David Lean.
Shaw wrote the film script himself, ensuring that his original setting in the more innocent time before WWI, didn't feel dated in the dark days of 1938. Other writers were brought in to lighten Shaw's view of the class conflict between Higgins and Eliza, and to lessen the amount of brow beating Higgins employs. Still, compared with the musical version, MY FAIR LADY, there is no magical Cinderella process here, but a painfully, realistically resisted struggle mixed with a slowly developing romance.
Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay 1938 George Bernard Shaw Irish Playwright
Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay 1938 Ian Dalrymple Screenwriter/Director/Prod.
Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay 1938 Cecil Lewis
Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay 1938 W.P. Lipscomb British Screenwriter