This is George Cukor's lavish, large budget musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's comedy Pygmalion, and the result is something actually quite spectacular. I've always looked at this stroy as being maybe a bit girly, but it's really not the case. It's a very entertaining, and actually quite hilarious (at times) look at class differences and finding one's place in life.
Rex Harrison is Professor Henry Higgins, a wealthy, cultured, and highly educated lphoneticist who makes a bet with his colleague Colonel Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White) that he can take an uncouth cockney flower girl (Audrey Hepburn) and transform her into a duchess by the time the Embassy Ball comes around. It's a tale as old as time, but a quite endearing one nonetheless, especially since several more versions have been filmed since this one, namely Pretty Woman and She's All That.
This particular telling of the story though is one that's quite special. It's rightly regarded as a classic, and one of the best musicals ever. I won't disagree. The music is great, as is the singing ,even though Harrison mostly talk-sings, and Hepburn got dubbed over by someone else. Now that's I've finally seen this version, I'm able to see yet another musical that has been quite influential on Seth MacFarlane, mostly with his show Family Guy. Not only did they make an episode that's a nonmusical remake of this film's presence, but Rex Harrison (his appearance, voice, and mannerisms) is one of the primary influences on the character of Stewie.
The story evolves as you think it might, with there being lots of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and some successes as well as missteps. For the longest time though, the film prrogresses in a rather realistic way by starting to end rather bittersweetly instead of a sappy romantic happy ending. However, shades of this latter ending do start to rear their head, but not enough so to make me totally angry or derail things. Also, while a lot of the music is good, it's not all great, so these reasons are mainly why I'm giving such an otherwise extremely great and well made film a half star less than perfect.
Could the film be better? Sure. But not by much, As it stands, this is a very fun movie that's far more enjoyable and engaging than the premise might make it seem. The performances are iconic, the sets and costumes stunning, and the tunes are pretty memorable. Give this one a go. It definitely lives up to its reputation.