Question about Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

SomeDude
Chorus Member
joined:6/23/13
Do you think She should have been nominated for the Oscar in 1964?
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
I think her performance was worthy of a nomination, but not the win. There was so much backlash at the time for Jack Warner overlooking Andrews as Eliza and casting a big movie star. The truth is, he needed one big film name to carry the expensive project. It was either replace Andrews or replace Harrison. He went after Cary Grant at first, and one would assume that if Grant had said yes, Julie Andrews would have played Eliza and not Mary Poppins on screen.

So I'm glad things worked out the way they did. Also, the competition that year was as follows:

Julie Andrews - Mary Poppins (winner)
Anne Bancroft - The Pumpkin Eater
Sophia Loren - Marriage, Italian Style
Debbie Reynolds - The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Kim Stanley - Seance On a Wet Afternoon

I haven't seen The Pumpkin Eater or Marriage, Italian Style, but I've seen the others, all worthy nominees.
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SomeDude
Chorus Member
joined:6/23/13
I love this clip of Julie thanking Jack Warner during her Golden Globe speech:http://youtu.be/OPmVf6HPz00
The Other One
Featured Actor
joined:4/1/08
I like Debbie Reynolds very much, but I don't think she is at all good in THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN. She pushes much too hard in a very dull movie. Audrey, an unfortunate victim of a crazy backlash that year, should have been nominated over her in my opinion.
degrassifan
Broadway Legend
joined:1/23/08
I feel like Audrey Hepburn should have at least been nominated. Besides the singing, she did a great job! Although, I just saw My Fair Lady on a 60 inch smart TV a few months ago, and the lip syncing in "I Could Have Danced All Night" was pretty awful. Even though I'm glad Julie Andrews won the Oscar, I wish she had won for Sound of Music as well/instead. Also, wouldn't that have been awesome if Julie Andrews had done Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, AND My Fair Lady?!?! Oh well. You can't change history.

Btw, was Julie Andrews's Oscar win part sympathy? I would hate to think that I received some votes out of pity because I was passed over for a role.
Updated On: 12/14/13 at 02:22 PM
The Other One
Featured Actor
joined:4/1/08
"Btw, was Julie Andrews's Oscar win part sympathy? I would hate to think that I received some votes out of pity because I was passed over for a role."

Less sympathy than solidarity. It probably helped that Sophia, Anne and Audrey had already won Oscars and that Kim's movie was on the obscure side.

I think Warners (it probably had more to do with Lerner) should have used Audrey's OK vocals on Wouldn't It Be Loverly? and Just You Wait (and their reprises). There might have been less initial aversion to her performance.

best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
I think most people don't realize that Audrey did some of her own singing. The majority was Marni Nixon, but Audrey sang all but the middle section of Just You Wait, Henry Higgins. A few other spots are Audrey as well.

Same thing with Roz Russell in the movie Gypsy. She did her own singing on Have an Egg Roll, Mr. Goldstone as well as the first half of Rose's Turn (right up to "I had a dream ...").

Still people love to say they didn't sing for themselves, which is only partially true, therefore they didn't deserve recognition. I wish they would feel the same way about stunt men. Unless actors do all of their own stunt work and CGI effects, they shouldn't be recognized for a performance either.

It's a silly philosophy and one I don't agree with.
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HorseTears
Broadway Legend
joined:3/25/05
Earlier this year, I saw a screening of MFL on a giant screen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. It was my first time seeing the film in its entirety since I was a kid. As a kid my focus was largely on Audrey. I mean, why wouldn't it be? Such a beautiful screen presence and, wow, those costumes and, of course, the "prettier" of the songs. But seeing the film as an adult was a revelation I (and the entire capacity audience) were entirely in the palm of Rex Harrison's palm. One of the funniest and smartest screen performances I've ever seen. And one perfectly modulated for the screen. I know he had the benefit of playing the role on stage hundreds (thousands?) of times, but it was clearly perfect casting and as charming and beautiful as Hepburn is, he totally outshone her. If, as bestbars has suggested, Jack Warner had to have one star in the film, I'm glad that we got to keep Rex Harrison over Julie. I can't imagine the film being 1/10th of what it was with Cary Grant or anyone else for that matter.
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
HarseTears, I had the exact same experience in a large theatre in Century City (Los Angeles) when they debuted the restored 70mm print. I actually sat behind Steven Spielberg and his family. It wasn't a premiere, just a weekend matinee.

But the large theatre was about 2/3 full ... enough to get a real sense of an audience reaction. And the film entirely belongs to Rex Harrison in that environment. It's not the same as watching it on TV. When you hear the laughter and the groans and the palpable energy coming back from the audience, you realize that movie would never have been the success it was without Harrison.
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jdtp12
Featured Actor
joined:7/16/10
Disney waited on Julie Andrews to make Mary Poppins due to her pregnancy, correct? Is there any chance they would've waited again if she had done My Fair Lady, or was the movie needed to be made right then?

Also, just curious, was it publicly known that Audrey didn't do her own singing back when the movie first premiered? I thought I remember hearing about how Marni Nixon was sworn to secrecy at the time, but maybe I'm making things up. This topic really fascinates me, for some reason.
Mr. Nowak
Featured Actor
joined:5/20/13
My grandmother, who's loved MY FAIR LADY since its original release, only found out she was dubbed about ten years ago. They definitely didn't publicize it at the time, but I don't know when knowledge of it became widespread.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
I was 10 and I knew that Hepburn had been dubbed and by whom, and--supposedly--that Warner tried to keep it a secret. My mother knew it and she was a stereotypical, lower middle class, 60s housewife in a small, South Florida town, not someone with inside info.

The problem with MFL was not just the tremendous affection the public had for Julie Andrews because of her appearances on Ed Sullivan and the phenomenal success of her original cast recordings. And it wasn't just that Hepburn (also beloved) was dubbed. In my opinion, the problem (compared to Deborah Kerr in THE KING AND I) was that the dubbing is so jarring. Every time Marnie Nixon sings, the viewer is reminded that Hepburn has stopped; the latter even LOOKS uncomfortable to me, though I'll admit that might be my imagination.

best12, your analogy of stunt doubling is apt, but I hope they don't give Oscars to the leads of action movies, at least not as a rule. When an actor is playing a vehicle role in a musical, then I think not singing the lion's share of the part should in fact disqualify him or her from nomination. If Hepburn had been dubbed for "Moon River", so what? But as Eliza Doolittle? How much "performance" is left?


Updated On: 12/14/13 at 08:34 PM
AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
"the latter even LOOKS uncomfortable to me, though I'll admit that might be my imagination."

I was always under the impression that Audrey filmed the movie to her own tracks and Marni had to do the dubbing in post-production. From what I recall hearing/reading Audrey thought they would only be using Marni to help sweeten some of those high notes she just didn't have, not completely dub over entire songs.
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MCfan2
Broadway Star
joined:4/29/06
I definitely think Audrey deserved a nomination. I've always thought so. Never mind the singing -- look how well she holds her own in some of the dramatic scenes, like the fight with Higgins after the ball, or the confrontation with him at his mother's house. I agree with everyone who said Harrison is brilliant, but she goes up against him fearlessly.

This was the first Audrey Hepburn movie I ever saw (I was 11 or so), and I was deeply impressed by her performance. I still am, nearly three decades later. Her Eliza was one of my ideals of what a strong, gutsy woman looks like.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
AEA, I didn't mean to imply that Hepburn was uncomfortable lip-syncing to Nixon (though I realize my post seems to say so). I meant that I just don't think Hepburn looks comfortable doing a musical at all.

And I love Audrey Hepburn as much as the next guy. I just think she was miscast in MFL. A remake of PYGMALION might have been interesting, but should Warner have hired a Belgian to play the lead role in a play about how British class differences are reflected in dialects?

As others have pointed out, Harrison walks away with the film. Of course, Higgins should be an equal partner, but he needn't have overshadowed Eliza.
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Both Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Wood were dubbed after the fact. Each actress pre-recorded their own vocals and performed on camera to their own tracks. Marni came in after the fact and re-dubbed the singing.

Only Deborah Kerr knew in advance that she would be dubbed by Marni in The King and I, and the two worked closely together prior to recording, during, and after, to make sure it was believable ... which is probably why I think it's the most successful of Marni's dubbed roles. There are times where it's very hard to tell the difference even when you know a switch is coming. I also think that helped them plan the technical recording of it better.

When you hear a switch in My Fair Lady or West Side Story, some of it has to do with the physical recording ... the room ambience doesn't match, the volume isn't quite right, the echo (or lack of it) doesn't fit the words that come before it, etc. That doesn't help the illusion any.

All in all, I think Marni did a great job of matching Audrey, and there are only a few instances where I hear a noticeable switch.

Oh, as far as privacy goes, yes, Marni was sworn to secrecy. And it wasn't publicly acknowledged or discussed for many years, even if people "knew." It was never confirmed back then.
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Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Speaking of Julie Andrews, I had heard one time that her highest note in The Sound Of Music was dubbed. Does anyone know if that is true?
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best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Good lord, no. You're talking about her added notes at the end of Do Re Mi? She did that herself, working it out with the music director. It wasn't written that way, but they both thought it was a good idea. And it was!

Kurt's high note at the end of his solo in So Long, Farewell was dubbed by Charmian Carr's younger sister Darlene Carr, who sang on all the group singing sections in the movie. They had a few extra kids for the recording to make them sound fuller, and Darlene Carr was one of them. She sang Kurt's high note. She also was the singing voice of the Girl at the end of Disney's The Jungle Book, where Mowgli goes after her, etc.

Darlene Carr, "ghost singer" in The Sound of Music:

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Tom5
Understudy
joined:9/23/11
The answer is yes. Throughout her career Audrey was largely a one note actress. It was an exquisite, beautiful note, but still only one. In My Fair Lady she stretched herself seven ways from Sunday. Nothing she had ever done before or after came close. She certainly deserved the nomination and had the dubbing been kept secret (Impossible) and had Mary Poppins been released any other year, she would and should have won.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Thanks for all the background info, best12! Although I don't find Hepburn entirely comfortable in the musical numbers, I didn't mean to blame the bad dubbing primarily on Hepburn OR Nixon. My point is that the entire effort is a failure on the part of everyone involved--and probably the greatest blame lies with the studio techs.

I still have trouble wrapping my mind around the image of Kerr and Nixon standing side by side in a recording booth, singing alternate notes. THAT was indeed an achievement!
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
There is a really interesting new book out that I strongly recommend that chronicles the 'decline' of the movie musicals in the 1960s. Naturally, it speaks about the early movie musical successes of the decade at length as well, and goes into a lot of the casting of Audrey Hepburn in MY FAIR LADY and a bit of the mythology that has sprung up in film lore about the 'casting aside' of Julie Andrews in the process.

People tend to forget that in 1964 Rex Harrison was still very much the star name of MY FAIR LADY. Harrison famously never liked working with Julie Andrews on stage -- finding her not much of an actress. Indeed, Andrews was almost fired until the director of the stage musical, Moss Hart, basically walled her up for a weekend of relentless one on one rehearsals. Still, Andrews later reported on playing Eliza Doolittle that it was a role she 'never completely' got a handle on.

Jack Warner's decision to not cast Julie Andrews in MY FAIR LADY on film was only partly because he felt he needed a bigger name as Eliza Doolittle -- the other (and perhaps bigger) reason is that the star of the picture - Rex Harrison - apparently really didn't want to work with her again on the movie.

EDIT: Here is a link to the book I mention above. Lots of great stuff in itů





ROADSHOW - THE FALL OF FILM MUSICALS IN THE !960s
Updated On: 12/14/13 at 11:39 PM
CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
Best 12, I think I remember in Hepburn's bio the author said that by the time the film was released there was virtually nothing left of Audrey's vocals and the author blames this fact on why she wasn't nominated. And that a nom would have been wrong for that reason. It's, of course, one writer's opinion. And perhaps a justification.
And I disagree that Hepburn was one note. She did employ a lot of her own personality in her roles, but she was subtle and touching in so many of her early movies.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Of course, Andrews struggled with the role of Eliza Doolittle! She was 21 years old and basically a music hall soloist, not an actress.

But she'd been playing the role successfully for years (in New York and London and in scenes on Ed Sullivan) by the time the film was made.

If Rex Harrison didn't want her to repeat her Eliza, I suspect it had more to do with not wanting the competition than with disdain for her acting. In Alan Jay Lerner's autobiography he portrays Harrison as very much the prima donna.

(Thanks for the book recommendation, Michael.)

Updated On: 12/14/13 at 11:51 PM
Mr. Nowak
Featured Actor
joined:5/20/13
I'm not sure how true it is, but Julie Andrews not being included in the CAMELOT movie was reportedly because of a feud with Richard Harris from when they were in HAWAII together. They originaly wanted both leads to reprise their stage roles, but Richard Burton wasn't available, so Harris was cast instead and Julie opted out.

She was of course replaced by Vanessa Redgrave, who I think does marvelously.
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Could be Gaveston -- I think there was also a general sentiment around that time period that the leading ladies of Broadway (Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Mary Martin, etc) weren't really 'suitable' for film. So if Rex Harrison told Jack Warner that Julie Andrews wasn't much of an actress and not likely to be useable in a movie -- it wouldn't be surprising that Warner would have believed him.

Richard Rodgers also tells the story, when they first thought of Julie for the film of THE SOUND OF MUSIC that 'word around town' was that Julie was 'unphotogenic' and that is why she lost the film of MY FAIR LADY. So it makes sense that whether it started with Rex Harrison or not, there was some feeling that Andrews was 'not a good candidate' for movies and that if she was to be replaced, it only made sense to get a star for MY FAIR LADY on film.

The book I mention also talks at length about the film version of CAMELOT. Apparently, Julie Andrew's wasn't that interested in the movie of CAMELOT (she had recently shot POPPINS and THE SOUND OF MUSIC and may have wanted to focus on dramatic features.)

Josh Logan also didn't think Andrews was 'sexy' enough.



Updated On: 12/15/13 at 11:58 PM
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
I don't think anyone believes Josh Logan was an expert on "sexy" in women. LOL.

Good point, Michael. Even if the prejudice against Broadway divas wasn't a factor, it is still true that Julie Andrews had never made a movie at that point. (She had done TV, of course, but it was the era of tiny screens and B&W TV, which wasn't much of a screen test for Cinerama.)

I rewatched MARY POPPINS recently and was surprised to discover that while Julie Andrews is absolutely incandescent in it, she actually has minimal involvement in the action. As the new movie suggests, the story is really about Mr. Banks, of course, and Dick Van Dyke (in dual roles) has more to do with that than Andrews.

Perhaps as a novice in her first feature film, Andrews seemed a safer bet for POPPINS than for MFL--for any number of reasons.

I do recall, however, the sense among the public that Andrews had somehow been "robbed" of her due by the big, bad corporate tycoon. I doubt that had anything to do with Oscar nominations (they are made by professionals, after all), but it didn't hurt Andrews' popularity, particularly after her triumph for Disney.

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