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Criterion Collection: Pygmalion [DVD] [1938] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Leslie Howard , Wendy Hiller , Leslie Howard , Anthony Asquith    DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product details

  • Actors: Leslie Howard, Wendy Hiller, Wilfrid Lawson, Marie Lohr, Scott Sunderland
  • Directors: Leslie Howard, Anthony Asquith
  • Writers: Anatole de Grunwald, Cecil Lewis, George Bernard Shaw, Ian Dalrymple, Kay Walsh
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Sep 2000
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780023536
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,538 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Later adapted as My Fair Lady George Bernard Shaw's wonderful comedy of manners is given its finest screen outing in this 1938 production. Nominated for four Oscars, Shaw himself was one of the recipients of the award for best screenplay. Snobbish Professor Higgins has a wager with his friend Colonel Pickering that with the right instruction he can pass off cockney gutter-snipe Eliza Doolittle as a lady among high society. Taken under his wing Eliza is given rigorous coaching in elocution and manners in preparation for the ultimate test, her appearance at an ambassador s reception.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LADETTE TO LADY - eat your heart out. 10 July 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
No, this isn't MY FAIR LADY, this is Shaw's original play, boasting a screenplay by GBS, to boot. Strong stuff.
To begin with, you can't help but compare the musical with this much older version. And to begin with, you miss the songs. But then the spell of this atmospheric and grainy London tale of a ladette-turned-lady quickly grips you.
And it is frequently hilarious, which the musical simply ain't: the tea-party scene can surely never be beaten.
In many ways I prefer this 1938 black and white masterpiece. It's a bitter-sweet romantic drama. And it's got everything - fabulous one-liners, a galaxy of stars (many of whom are now all but forgotten - but when you see them, you realise why they were stars) and a sense of atmosphere that for me is oddly lacking in the musical.
I also prefer Howard's Professor Higgins. It's less obvious than Rex Harrison's version, and has a slightly dark side ... Wendy Hiller is a delight from start to finish, and as her dustman father, Wilfrid Lawson is definitive.
If you haven't got this on DVD - get it. Get MY FAIR LADY, too, and enjoy both of them. They are both works of genius, and so very different from each other.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a golden film treasure 25 Mar 2010
Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard give luminous performances in this wonderful film. Hiller should be as well known as her American contemporary, Katherine Hepburn, whom she most resembles in terms of on-screen energy and wit (and high cheek-bones). Her Eliza Doolittle goes to places that even the delightful Audrey Hepburn does not come near to reaching in "My Fair Lady". Howard's Prof. Higgins is also much superior to Rex Harrison's portrayal. The vision quality of this print of the 1938 film is not always as one would like, although the sound - every phoneme of it - is surprisingly good. Anthony Asquith and Howard share the directing credit, and they have worked together to make a tight, well-paced and visually dynamic work (taking the film several times out of the parlour and onto the streets of London, in a daring and refreshing way). Shaw's biting dialogue, the fine camerawork, and a perfect supporting cast make this, in my book, worth a 9.5/10.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The opportunity to watch Pygmalion next to My Fair Lady is not to be missed. If Shaw at first was reluctant to approve a movie version of Pygmalion, he ended up enthusiastically promoting Wendy Hiller for the part of Eliza Doolittle and, at 82, co-adapting his play into a screenplay and writing several new scenes, including the whole ballroom episode involving that oleaginous fraud, Karpathy. Thanks to Shaw, director Anthony Asquith, co-director Leslie Howard who plays Professor Henry Higgins, Wendy Hiller as Eliza and Wilfred Lawson as Alfred Doolittle, we have one of the wittiest, cleverest takes on social inequality that ever had a romance wrapped around it.

"I can't change my nature and I won't change my manners," says Higgins, a crabby, bossy, arrogant, insensitive fellow who believes the intellectual life is the only life, and who benefits from private wealth and his talent as a teacher of phonetics. His reaction to Eliza declaring her independence is to squawk, "I tell you I've created this thing out of squashed cabbage leaves in Convent Garden!"

Eliza (and Shaw) sees things differently. "You see," she tells Colonel Pickering, "the difference between a lady and a flower girl isn't how she behaves, it's how she's treated." Eliza Doolittle, after she's been cleaned up spectacularly and taught not to drop her H's by Higgins, has become, not just a "proper lady," but a woman of confidence and spirit.

Shaw, of course, turns all this into a contest of ideas -- his -- stated in dialogue so provocative and clever one really needs to appreciate the skill of Howard and Hiller. The contest between the two becomes interesting because we know (this is corny) the two were made for each other.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably my favorite G.B. Shaw on film 5 Jun 2011
By K. Gordon TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:VHS Tape
A pretty wonderful film of the great George Bernard Shaw play.

Both Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller are terrific in the leads, and this
production brings out both the fun and wit of Shaw's words, without
losing the sharp, complex, and sometimes paradoxical political and
social observations underneath the playful extrtior.

Dated in style, yes, and it could be argued Hiller is a bit older than ideal
for the character's innocence. And some of the supporting performances
are too stagy (although some are very good indeed).

But overall this is a lot of fun, and quite thought provoking, with a
nicely ambiguous ending.

If you have a DVD player, it's worth getting one of the excellent newer
transfers such as the Criterion, instead of VHS.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A British Screwball Comedy 29 Jan 2011
By S. Hyde
Henry Higgins places a bet with his pal that he can transform Eliza Doolittle from guttersnipe into princess. Its based on a Bernard Shaw play from 1912 but the story of Pygmalion dates back at least as far as Ovid's Metamorphosis and is found throughout literature and films, most recently in Trading Places, Pretty Woman and Educating Rita. Famously it was also remade into an overlong 1965 musical with Rex Harrison. But this 1938 film is one of the best versions of the story and certainly the best adaptation of a Shaw play, and i think the reason for that rests with Lesley Howard.
This is no Cinderella story, its a painful transformation for Eliza. Higgins believes that language is key to social climbing but he is totally ignorant of his own lack of manners. It's a wonder that Eliza turns out so well with his example. He's a cold intellectual and a spoit brat who'se always had his own way without ever considering the feelings of others.
This film is not as mad as Bringing up Baby but it's a screwball comedy no less. Fast talking, very clever, and bitterly funny. A battle of the sexes where its the acid tongue and barbed dialogue that counts.
I love the way that towards the end of the film the roles are beginning to reverse, the power is about to shift hands. Perhaps the film ends too soon? The cruelty could have gone further. Maybe not to quite as dark a place as Losey's The Servant. But it needs Eliza to become aware of her sexual power over Higgins, to taunt him and play the game a little longer. It's almost like a sado-masachistic relationship.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
An irresistable story that has come again and again in many versions. This is a favourite, even compared to others that I like as well, like My Fair Lady.
Published 4 months ago by Gunnel Arrbäck
4.0 out of 5 stars Good film.
This is a truer take on George Bernard Shaws's Pygmalion than My Fair Lady, but is let down by not being remastered, with the sound occasionally fluctuating. Excellent film though. Read more
Published 6 months ago by johan marks
4.0 out of 5 stars 'iller and 'oward possibly hupstaged by thems in smaller rowles
It is rather too stagey to be a great film and there are passages where it ceases to be compelling because of this determination to be reverent. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mario
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious experience!
It's a delicious experience to
watch ,the same week, both
"Pygmalion"(1938) by Anthony Asquith
and Leslie Howard ,and "My Fair
Lady" (1964) by George Cukor. Read more
Published 10 months ago by elisheva guggenheim
5.0 out of 5 stars It can hardly get any better
G B Shaw's play, Wendy Hiller as Eliza and Leslie Howard as Higgins - what more could you wish for. Hiller is more convincing than Hepburn (in My Fair Lady) and Howard outshines... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Veit G:son Berg
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a classic both as regards the writer and the more than perfect...
The story and the actors need no review for they are perfect under any point view. The DVD arrived in good time and was well packed. Read more
Published 11 months ago by S. CASTELO-BRANCO
5.0 out of 5 stars Great one !
great story, read in a wonderfull way. I was listening to it while being on the holiday and was laughing all the time.
Published 11 months ago by Katarzyna Strus
5.0 out of 5 stars PYGMALION DVD
Published 13 months ago by linda
5.0 out of 5 stars Pygmalion
A nice copy, clear text and helpful notes. A very good version to get if you are studying the play, or if you are performing it, as it includes all the original stage directions... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Lisa Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Pygmalion
A British actress onc said that after Wedny Hiller has acted a part there was no one else who need bother (or words to that effect). I agree. Read more
Published 19 months ago by D. C. Davies
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