Cinema: Still the Fairest One of All

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Though Eliza's transformation retains its magic, not all the problems of putting a stage musical on film have been solved. Occasionally the spell slackens because the camera seems welded to the wrong orchestra seat, a number sags under a painfully explicit interpretation. And when Professor Higgins' household staff bursts into song, it sounds as if the entire Westminster Choir has been tucked into a linen closet. The talents behind Fair Lady sometimes approach their work with damp palms, as if afraid to risk too much in capturing the wit and style of a modern masterpiece. But in the essentials it is all there, and for once in a Hollywood moon the customers get full measure of the elegant escapism they are paying for.

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