Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe – My Fair Lady (OST (1964)

FrontCover1My Fair Lady is a 1964 American musical film adapted from the Lerner and Loewe eponymous stage musical based on the 1913 stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. With a screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner and directed by George Cukor, the film depicts a poor Cockney flower seller named Eliza Doolittle who overhears an arrogant phonetics professor, Henry Higgins, as he casually wagers that he could teach her to speak “proper” English, thereby making her presentable in the high society of Edwardian London.

The film stars Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison as Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins respectively, with Stanley Holloway, Gladys Cooper and Wilfrid Hyde-White in supporting roles. A critical and commercial success, it won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. In 1998, the American Film Institute named it the 91st greatest American film of all time.

In Edwardian London, Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison), a scholar of phonetics, believes that the accent and tone of one’s voice determines a person’s prospects in society. In Covent Garden one evening, he boasts to a new acquaintance, Colonel Hugh Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White), himself an expert in phonetics, that he could teach any person to speak in a way that he could pass them off as a duke or duchess at an embassy ball. Higgins selects as an example a young flower seller, Eliza Doolittle (Audrey MoviePosterHepburn), who has a strong Cockney accent. Eliza’s ambition is to work in a flower shop, but her thick accent makes her unsuitable. Having come from India to meet Higgins, Pickering is invited to stay with the professor. The following morning, Eliza shows up at Higgins’ home, seeking lessons. Pickering is intrigued and offers to cover all expenses if the experiment should be successful.

Eliza’s father, Alfred P. Doolittle (Stanley Holloway), a dustman, shows up three days later, ostensibly to protect his daughter’s virtue, but in reality simply to extract some money from Higgins, and is bought off with £5. Higgins is impressed by the man’s honesty, his natural gift for language, and especially his brazen lack of morals. Higgins recommends Alfred to a wealthy American who is interested in morality. Eliza goes through many forms of speech training, such as speaking with marbles in her mouth, enduring Higgins’ harsh approach to teaching and his treatment of her personally. She makes little progress, but just as she, Higgins, and Pickering are about to give up, Eliza finally “gets it”; she instantly begins to speak with an impeccable upper class accent.

As a test, Higgins takes her to Ascot Racecourse, where she makes a good impression initially, only to shock everyone by a sudden lapse into vulgar Cockney while cheering on a horse. Higgins, who dislikes the pretentiousness of the upper class, partly conceals a grin behind his hand. Eliza poses as a mysterious lady at an embassy ball and even dances with a foreign prince. At the ball is Zoltan Karpathy (Theodore Bikel), a Hungarian phonetics expert trained by Higgins. After a brief conversation with Eliza, he certifies that she is not only Hungarian, but of royal blood, declaring her to be a Princess.

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After all the effort she has put in, however, Eliza’s actions aren’t even acknowledged; all the praise going to Higgins. This, and his callous treatment towards her afterwards, especially his indifference to her future, causes her to throw Higgins’ slippers at him, and to walk out on him, leaving him mystified by her ingratitude. Accompanied by Freddy Eynsford-Hill (Jeremy Brett), a young man she met at Ascot and who is charmed by her, Eliza returns to her old life, but finds that she no longer fits in. She meets her father, who has been left a large fortune by the wealthy American to whom Higgins had recommended him, and is resigned to marrying Eliza’s stepmother. Alfred feels that Higgins has ruined him, since he is now bound by morals and responsibility. Eventually, Eliza ends up visiting Higgins’ mother (Gladys Cooper), who is enraged at her son’s behaviour.

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The next day, Higgins finds Eliza gone and searches for her, eventually finding her at his mother’s house. Higgins attempts to talk Eliza into coming back to him. He becomes angered when Eliza announces that she is going to marry Freddy and become Karpathy’s assistant. He makes his way home, stubbornly predicting that she will come crawling back. However, he comes to the realization that he has “grown accustomed to her face.” Henry returns to his study to lament his loneliness. As he listens to Eliza’s recorded voice, she reappears in the doorway behind him, turning off the recording and saying in her old Cockney accent, “I washed my hands and face before I come I did.” Higgins looks surprised then pleased before asking for his slippers once more as Eliza smiles on behind him, leaving the audience to decide what happens next. (by wikipedia)

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My Fair Lady is–deservedly–one of the most famous musicals of all time. Its popular 1964 film version, directed by George Cukor, has ensured that for most people Audrey Hepburn is Eliza Doolittle, while Broadway-heads swear by Julie Andrews’s stage performance, immortalized on the 1956 cast album. Of course, for the purposes of a CD review it’s more accurate to compare the performances of Andrews and Marni Nixon, who sang the songs lip-synched by Hepburn in the movie. While Andrews usually comes out on top (especially on “I Could Have Danced All Night”), Nixon is no slouch (after all, she also dubbed Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Deborah Kerr in The King & I). Rex Harrison, of course, does his own vocals, but then he doesn’t so much sing his songs as talk them. While Nixon and Harrison are tops, the truth is that Lerner and Loewe’s songs are so good as to endure almost anybody’s interpretation: “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “With a Little Bit of Luck,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” and so on–not many shows can boast as many classics. The movie version’s real bonus is Andre Previn’s swellegant orchestration. (by Elisabeth Vincentell)

And I add a large collection of lobby cards from this classic movie. Thanks to legendsofsfandfantasyart.blogspot

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Personnel:
Rex Harrison ( Professor Henry Higgins)
Audrey Hepburn (Eliza Doolittle)
Stanley Holloway (Alfred P. Doolittle)
Marni Nixon )as Eliza’s singing voice)
Bill Shirley (for Jeremy Brett) (Freddy Eynsford-Hill )
Wilfrid Hyde-White (Colonel Hugh Pickering)
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The Warner Bros. Studio Orchestra conducted by André Previn

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Tracklist:
01. Overture 3.27
02. Why Can’t The English Learn To Speak? (Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn, Wilfrid Hyde-White)
03. Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? (Marni Nixon (for Hepburn))
04. I’m An Ordinary Man (Harrison)
05. With A Little Bit Of Luck (Stanley Holloway)
06. Just You Wait (Hepburn, Nixon)
07. The Rain In Spain (Harrison, Hepburn, Nixon, Wilfrid Hyde-White)
08. I Could Have Danced All Night (Nixon)
09. Ascot Gavotte
10. On The Street Where You Live (Bill Shirley (for Jeremy Brett))
11. You Did It (Harrison, Hyde-White) (without the choir “Congratulations”)
12. Show Me (Nixon, Shirley)
13. Get Me To The Church On Time (Holloway)
14. A Hymn To Him (Why Can’t A Woman Be More Like A Man?) (Harrison, Hyde-White)
15. Without You (Nixon, Harrison)
16. I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face (Harrison) 4.53

Music and lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe

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Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe – Paint Your Wagon (1951)

FrontCover1Paint Your Wagon is a Broadway musical comedy, with book and lyrics by Alan J. Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The story centers around a miner and his daughter and follows the lives and loves of the people in a mining camp in Gold Rush-era California. Popular songs from the show included “Wand’rin’ Star”, “I Talk to the Trees” and “They Call the Wind Maria”. (While the name in this title is pronounced as in the currently popular spelling “Mariah,” the original spelling is the classical spelling of “Maria.”)

The musical ran on Broadway in 1951 and in the West End in 1953. In 1969 the film version also titled Paint Your Wagon was released. It had a highly revised plot and some new songs composed by Lerner and André Previn.

Act I
In the California Wilderness in May 1853, a crusty old miner, Ben Rumson, is conducting a makeshift funeral for a friend. Meanwhile his 16-year-old daughter Jennifer discovers gold dust. Ben claims the land, and prospectors start flocking to the brand new town of Rumson (“I’m On My Way”). Two months later Rumson has a population of 400, all of whom are men except for Jennifer. Prospector Jake Whippany is waiting to save enough money to send for Cherry and her Fandango girls (“Rumson”), while Jennifer senses the tension building in town (“What’s Going On Here?”). Julio Valveras, a handsome young miner forced to live and work outside of town because he is Mexican, comes to town with dirty laundry and runs into Jennifer, who volunteers to do his laundry. They also talk to each other (“I Talk to the Trees”). Steve Bulmarck and the other men ponder the lonely nomadic life they lead in the song “They Call the Wind Maria”.

Two months later the men want Ben to send Jennifer away, and he wishes her mother was still alive to help him (“I Still See Elisa”). Jennifer is in love with Julio (“How Can I Wait?”), and when Ben sees Jennifer dancing with Julio’s clothes, he decides to send her East on the next stage. Jacob Woodling, a Mormon man with two wives, Sarah and Elizabeth, arrives in Rumson where the men demand Jacob sell one of his wives. To his surprise, Ben finds himself wooing Elizabeth (“In Between”) and wins her for $800 (“Whoop-Ti-Yay”). Jennifer is disgusted by her father’s actions and runs away, telling Julio that she will be reunited with him in a year’s time (“Carino Mio”). Cherry and her Fandango girls arrive (“There’s a Coach Comin’ In”). Julio learns his claim is running dry which means he has to move on to make a living and that he will not be there to greet Jennifer when OriginalMusicalPoster1951she returns.

Act II
A year later in October, the miners celebrate the high times in Rumson now that the Fandango girls are around (“Hand Me Down That Can o’ Beans”). Edgar Crocker, a miner who has saved his money, falls for Elizabeth and she responds, although Ben does not notice since he thinks Raymond Janney is in love with her (he is). Another miner, Mike Mooney, tells Julio about a lake that has gold dust on the bottom and he considers looking for it (“Another Autumn”). Jennifer returns in December, having learned civilized ways back East (“All for Him”). Ben tells his daughter that he will soon be moving on since he was not meant to stay in one place for long (“Wand’rin’ Star”). The next day as Cherry and the girls are packing to leave they tell her about Julio leaving to find the lake with a bottom of gold. Raymond Janney offers to buy Elizabeth from Ben for $3,000, but she runs off with Edgar Crocker.

OriginalLabelWord comes of another strike 40 miles south of Rumson and the rest of the town packs up to leave except for Jennifer, who is waiting for Julio to return, and Ben, who suddenly realizes that Rumson is indeed his town. Late in April, Julio appears, a broken man. The now dying Ben welcomes him and Julio is amazed to see Jennifer is there. As they move toward each other, the wagons filled with people move on.

The musical opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on November 12, 1951, and closed on July 19, 1952, after 289 performances. The production was directed by Daniel Mann, set design by Oliver Smith, costume design by Motley, lighting design by Peggy Clark, music for dances arranged by Trude Rittman, with dances and musical ensembles by Agnes de Mille set to the orchestrations of Ted Royal.

It starred James Barton (as Ben Rumson), Olga San Juan (Jennifer Rumson), Tony Bavaar (Julio Valveras), Gemze de Lappe (Yvonne Sorel), James Mitchell (Pete Billings), Kay Medford (Cherry), and Marijane Maricle (Elizabeth Woodling). Burl Ives and Eddie Dowling later took over the role of Ben Rumson. De Mille later restaged the dances as a stand-alone ballet, Gold Rush (by wikipedia)

Sheet01The 50-year European copyright limit on recordings allowed the original Broadway cast recording of Paint Your Wagon, originally released by RCA Victor in 1951, into the public domain early in the 21st century, and British bottom-feeder reissue label Prism Leisure has responded by pressing up its own version. The sound quality is good, suggesting that someone simply went to a record store and bought the latest RCA CD for transfer, though, of course, the original was recorded in mono under what are now thought of as primitive conditions. Still, cast members James Barton, Olga San Juan, Tony Bavaar, and Rufus Smith come through loud and clear in their performances of the memorable Western-tinged score for the Gold Rush story, including the songs “They Call the Wind Maria,” “I Talk to the Trees,” and “Wand’rin’ Star.” And there is a bonus track of “They Call the Wind Maria” by Vaughn Monroe, whose RCA recording, contemporary to the show, is also in the public domain in Europe. The RCA version of the cast album is to be preferred for its superior sound and packaging over what is essentially a legal bootleg, but for casual listeners on a budget, this one will serve. (Although technically issued only in Europe, the album was readily available at a modest price in the U.S. upon release.) (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
James Barton (as Ben Rumson)
Tony Bavaar (Julio Valveras)
Olga San Juan (as Jennifer Rumson)
Gemze de Lappe (as Yvonne Sorel)
Marijane Maricle (as Elizabeth Woodling)
Kay Medford (as Cherry)
James Mitchell (Pete Billings)
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Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. I’m on My Way (Chorus / Robert Penn / Rufus Smith / Dave Thomas) 3.54
02. Rumson (Robert Penn) 0.48
03. What’s Going on Here? (Olga San Juan) 3.28
04. I Talk To The Trees (Tony Bavaar) 3.31
05. They Call the Wind Maria (Chorus / Rufus Smith) 3.17
06. I Still See Elisa (James Barton) 3.17
07. How Can I Wait? (Olga San Juan) 4.13
08. In Between (James Barton) 2.40
09. Whoop-Ti-Ay! (Chorus) 1.45
10. Carino Mio (Tony Bavaar / Olga San Juan) 2.46
11. There’s A Coach Comin’ In (Chorus) 1.58
12. Hand Me Down That Can O’Beans (Chorus / Robert Penn) 1.44
13. Another Autumn (Tony Bavaar / Rufus Smith) 2.52
14. All For Him (Olga San Juan) 2.28
15. Wand’rin’ Star (James Barton / Chorus) 2.31
16. They Call The Wind Maria (bonus track) (Vaughn Monroe) 2.50

Music: Alan Jay Lerner / Book & lyrics: Frederick Loewe

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