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My Fair Lady: A Real Disappointment

I remember reading Shaw’s Pygmalion years ago.  Of course, I did not like ‘enry ‘iggins very much, but he wasn’t meant to be likeable, and, taken as a whole, the play was a lot of fun.

Now, however, I’ve watched the old 1964 movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.  With Miss 14 and Miss 12.  And I wish we hadn’t.

Sure, we had checked Internet Movie Data Base for objectionable elements. And yes, there was more swearing than I expected.  But what IMDB didn’t mention was the blatantly unchristian worldview portrayed in that movie.

  • First of all was the blasphemy.  I kept expecting it to get better, but it only got worse.
  • Then, yes, of course, there was the swearing, and there was more of it than I was led to expect.
  • And there was the drinking.  Bad drinking.
  • There was the negative attitude to God’s good gift of marriage, expressed over and over and over.
  • There was the hatred of ‘middle class morality’. The ‘disaster’ of living an upright life, of marrying the person one is living with,  and of actually working was captured in catchy music.
  • And, throughout, the smug complacency of fools was glorified.

In fact, everyone, except for Eliza, Colonel Pickering, and Mrs. Pearce, fit right into the categories of fools described so vividly in Proverbs.  And a ‘fool’ in the Bible is not a funny, silly kind of person, but a morally deficient person.

Of course, it is possible to show foolish behavior without glorifying it, but in this movie even those who correct the fools, like Professor Higgin’s mother, don’t encourage wisdom.  What’s worse, many of the catchy, stay-in-your-head tunes are full of foolish ideas.

And that is what I let my girls immerse themselves in when we watched My Fair Lady!

Naively I did not immediately turn the movie off.  I expected it to be alright because IMDB had said it was basically OK and because it was almost half a century old.   But of course, people have always been people and Hollywood was certainly no more Christian then than it is now.

I am sad that I allowed my girls to watch this.  I am sad that I exposed myself to this.

Mr. 14 pointed out that at least we hadn’t been watching the violence and gore of The Eagle, a realistic movie based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s story about Roman Britain.  I despise violence, but would it perhaps have been better to watch something that is obviously not ideal, than to immerse ourselves in subtle evil that masquerades as fun?

Unfortunately the Christian movie site Plugged In does not often review older movies.  It would have alerted us to some of these issues.


  1. Jenn4him says:

    So many times, I get excited to share a movie or TV show that I enjoyed when I was a child to find that it was not really as wholesome as I imagined. I also find myself wondering why my parents allowed me to watch so many bad things! (They were not Christians at the time.) I suppose the only thing to do is to preview these things or use them as a platform to discuss worldliness. We read The Eagle, but did not see the move. I guess that I am glad it wasn’t on Netflix!

  2. Rachael says:

    Thank you Annie Kate, I will cross this movie off my “list”!

  3. Annie Kate says:

    Yes, Jenn, it can be hard to keep up with all these things. That’s why I usually love Plugged In, but for the old movies it is no good.

    You’re welcome, Rachael!

  4. Laraba says:

    I know this is an old review, but thank you! I never let our kids watch that movie (which I saw many years ago) because I loathed the main male character so much. I didn’t remember all the other issues, but I just found him to be too much of a jerk — and why on EARTH did Eliza stay with him at the end.

    I agree we have to think so much about worldview. People are pretty blasé about “Grease” and I think it has very bad themes.

    I was talking to my husband about a thriller I saw many years ago called Fatal Attraction. I would never let our kids see it and I wouldn’t see it again — ugly, violent, sexually explicit, unpleasant movie. BUT I said to my husband that at least the basic message was somewhat redeeming. A man has an affair, and it turns out to be a total disaster. At least that has some value. So many movies (like Dirty Dancing — that’s another popular movie with a lousy message) elevate sexual immorality, abortion, etc…

  5. Annie Kate says:

    Yes, it’s so easy to look only at the standard ratings and not see the basic message. And sometimes a film with a bad rating can have a better over-all message than one with a good rating.

    We watched Dancing in the Rain recently because someone (Christian) recommended it highly, so highly that I kept on waiting for it to become good and never did turn it off (although I did fast forward a bit). That one turned out to be another disappointment. Sigh.

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