London

My Fair Lady [1964]

5 / 5

Brilliant, witty, My Fair Lady is an outstanding musical and arguably the best romantic comedy, ever.

Not to be missed: Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison at the height of their powers, the influential costume designs by Cecil Beaton, the memorable and oft-referenced score by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, along with a subtle and nuanced ending far better than could have been imagined by George Bernard Shaw, himself. As a minor point, the people in charge of the film should have used Audrey Hepburn’s singing voice instead of Marni Nixon’s. As Hepburn wasn’t going to beat Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins for the Oscar for Best Actress—Hepburn wasn’t even nominated that year, and as fans of the musical still prefer Andrews’ voice to Marni Nixon’s, Hepburn should have been allowed to retain her pride and dignity through the use of her more modest singing voice.

Jack Warner Trivia:

  • When director George Cukor demanded reshoots, Jack Warner had the sets torn down.
  • After seeing the first rough cut of the film, Jack Warner rose and then silently bowed to Rex Harrison.
  • When it was revealed that Audrey Hepburn was not nominated for an Oscar, Jack Warner and George Cukor angrily protested.
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The Octagon, Crossness Pumping Station

Crossness Pumping Station in Belvedere, Kent (Christine Matthews, 2013)

Photo Credit: Christine Matthews, 2013

The First Paragraph: Around the World in Eighty Days

Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1814. He was one of the most noticeable members of the Reform Club, though he seemed always to avoid attracting attention; an enigmatical personage, about whom little was known, except that he was a polished man of the world. People said that he resembled Byron,—at least that his head was Byronic; but he was a bearded, tranquil Byron, who might live on a thousand years without growing old.

—from Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, translated by George Makepeace Towle

Note: Poet and playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan actually lived and died in Saville Row No. 14, and he died in 1816 rather than in 1814.

Jack the Ripper Murders Solved

The Daily Mail has published an article that DNA testing of a blood- and semen-soaked shawl worn by Catherine Eddowes (1842–1888), one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, has determined that Aaron Kosminski (1865–1919) was the infamous murderer. Kosminski had been identified by a witness back in 1888, but the London Police didn’t have enough evidence to convict him. Instead, Kosminski, who was mentally ill, was sent to various asylums until he died in 1919.

The sensational Whitechapel Murders of 1888 are collectively the most famous murder mystery in recorded history. The unprecedented global media coverage at the time dominated daily conversations and shaped social policy, from neighbourhood watches to slum clearance. The London Metropolitan Police’s hunt for Jack the Ripper spurred the development of modern police investigative techniques, from the canvassing of neighbourhoods, the interrogation of witnesses, to the meticulous handling, recording, and analysis of forensic evidence. Perhaps the most visible legacy of the the Whitechapel Murders has been the widespread and enduring popularity of crime fiction, from Alan Moore’s The Watchmen, the works of Agatha Christie, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.