The film of My Fair Lady is worth every penny of the $17 million it reportedly cost because it preserves Rex Harrison’s performance. Whatever one thinks of the musical, of the very idea of the musical, his performance is clearly a flower of artistic elegance with its roots in three-hundred-year-old comic styles, a miracle of ease that results from a lifetime’s training of superb talents. One had only to see others in this part to see a) imitators of him; b) actors who had stepped into it rather than grown into it, relying mostly on superficial suavities.
Every now and then, you run into people who have not seen The Shop Around the Corner. These men and women seem normal enough. They speak English, they wear clothes, they comb their hair. They may be walking the dog or looking for a pinot noir at a party, and they say, “What was that film you mentioned?” They’re good-natured about their ignorance, especially when you tell them the film is 71 years old and in black-and-white. There are people who reckon those conditions are beyond their range or pay level, like the famine in East Africa or the bubbling of the permafrost in Siberia.
Two for the Road and Accident—very chic, clever, skillful and with the very latest in color and time-and-memory techniques—give us the La Notte view of marriage. Boredom, desperation, resignation. Both Frederic Raphael, who wrote Two for the Road as an original screenplay for Stanely Donen, and Harold Pinter, who adapted the Nicholas Mosley novel Accident for Joseph Losey, get a laugh with the same gag: men so self-centered that they don't remember the existence of their own daughters—Caroline in one, Francesa in the other. Great minds travel in the same TV channel?