Let’s not quibble about this one. You either bask in Audrey Hepburn’s glow—it’s certainly not heat but light—and smile at her comic transformation from a “horribly low” thing into a doll, or you just don’t enjoy the silliness that was 1960s studio moviemaking. My Fair Lady could be called the pinnacle of the Hollywood machine, a ruthlessly designed Best Picture largely humanized by its stars. And while rougher, more vital stuff was on the horizon, its formal charms reveal an innocent pop culture in its final flourish.
More interesting, though, is the movie’s afterlife: Having fallen into serious disrepair, the negative received a thorough 1994 restoration (by the same guys who did Hitchcock’s Vertigo) and was successfully rereleased in theaters. Those DVDs are now out of print, so Paramount’s new single-disc reissue is a must-see for fans, the transfer bright and crisp. (Notice how I refrained from calling it “loverly.”)
Alas, the extras on offer here are nothing new. A couple of musical numbers show Hepburn doing a fine job belting through in her original voice; she was famously postdubbed by the sweeter-toned Marni Nixon. There’s also a bunch of draggy Oscars footage.—Joshua Rothkopf