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Unformatted text preview: Copyright is owned by the Author of the thesis. Permission is given for a copy to be downloaded by an individual for the purpose of research and private study only. The thesis may not be reproduced elsewhere without the permission of the Author. ELIZA UNDERMINED: THE ROMANTICISATION OF SHAW’S PYGMALION A thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English at Massey University, Turitea Campus, New Zealand Derek John McGovern 2011 i Few twentieth-century plays have been adapted into as many media as Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. First performed on stage in 1913, it was published in book form (1916), turned into a series of screenplays and films (1934–38), modified for a stage musical (My Fair Lady, 1956) and for a film musical (My Fair Lady, 1964). In addition, the original text was revised in 1939 and 1941. This thesis examines the ways in which the play’s core themes have been reworked for these adaptations through a nexus of interpreters’ and adapters’ intentions, the formal conventions of the various media, and the interventions of Shaw himself. Throughout his screenplay and (stage) textual revisions, Shaw strove to emphasise the anti-romantic nature of the original play and its central concerns of class, independence, and transformation. On the stage, in Shaw’s retelling of the Pygmalion myth, the point was not that the “creator” (Higgins) and “creation” (Eliza) fall in love, but rather that the latter achieves independence from her autocratic Pygmalion. Marriage between the two, Shaw declared, was unthinkable. To his dismay, however, audiences and critics alike inferred otherwise, often influenced by the interventions of the play’s interpreters. So via his prose sequel of 1916 and his 1934–38 screenplay, Shaw emphasised a marital future for Eliza with Freddy Eynsford Hill (a minor character in the original play) in an attempt to satisfy these expectations of romance without compromising Eliza’s or Higgins’s independence. Despite this, filmmakers continued to imply a Higgins–Eliza romance, whereupon Shaw responded by changing the ending of his stage text and aggrandising Freddy’s role for his 1941 “definitive” version. Ultimately, however, this damaged the original play’s structural and tonal unity. Oddly enough, the musical adaptations of Pygmalion that appeared after Shaw’s death were more successful in portraying Freddy as a credible romantic foil to Higgins. My Fair Lady differs significantly from Shaw’s Pygmalion, however, by suggesting that Higgins’s independence undergoes a transformation as profound as Eliza’s. ii This thesis explores the life cycle of Pygmalion and the tensions of authorship caused by adaptations, and, in particular, Shaw’s attempts to assert his own conception of the text, and others’ determination to modify it. iii Acknowledgements I wish to acknowledge my sincere gratitude to the following individuals for their assistance during the writing of this thesis. Mr David Grossberg, Executor of the Estate of Alan Jay Lerner, for allowing me permission to reproduce in full Higgins’s speech from page 86 of Lerner’s My Fair Lady libretto. Dr Leonard Conolly, Professor of English at Trent University, for his invaluable information regarding the various published editions of Shaw’s Pygmalion and the location of the Pascal Pygmalion screenplay, and for his generosity in allowing me to read his Introduction to the 2008 Methuen edition of Pygmalion prior to its publication. Dr Richard F. Dietrich, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of South Florida, for his invaluable advice on all matters Shavian. Concertmaster Isidor Saslav of the Longview Texas Symphony for providing me with information regarding post-My Fair Lady Shavian musical adaptations. Mr Ellwood Annaheim, Lecturer in Musical Theatre at the Catholic University of America, for elaborating on his article regarding Oscar Straus’ The Chocolate Soldier. Dr Michel Pharand, Director of the Disraeli Project, Queens University, Canada, for providing me with a copy of Shaw’s then-unpublished 1939 letter to William Maxwell. Mr Jeremy Crow, Head of Literary Estates for the Society of Authors, for allowing me to quote from the aforementioned letter. Dr Mary AlemanyGalway, retired Lecturer of the Department of Media Studies at Massey University, for assisting the supervision of my thesis during its formative stages and for providing me with invaluable insight into film theory. Dr Ian Huffer, Lecturer in Media Studies at Massey University, for assisting the supervision of the latter stages of my thesis and for helping me to clarify its ultimate focus. And finally Dr Richard Corballis, Professor of English at Massey University, my principal supervisor, for his expert criticism and extraordinary degree of support throughout the gestation and writing of this thesis. I also wish to acknowledge my gratitude to the following institutes and organizations. Alfred Publishing Co., Inc., for allowing me to reproduce lyrics from the songs of My Fair Lady. The Archival and Special Collections Division of the University of Guelph iv Library, for providing me with a copy of Gabriel Pascal’s unpublished Pygmalion screenplay. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, for providing me with a copy of Bernard Shaw’s 1938 revised Pygmalion screenplay, and for allowing me to quote extensively from it. Copyright notice WOULDN’T IT BE LOVERLY? WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK I’M AN ORDINARY MAN JUST YOU WAIT THE RAIN IN SPAIN I COULD HAVE DANCED ALL NIGHT ASCOT GAVOTTE ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE YOU DID IT A HYMN TO HIM SHOW ME WITHOUT YOU I’VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO HER FACE Lyrics by ALAN JAY LERNER Music by FREDERICK LOEWE © 1956 (Renewed) ALAN JAY LERNER and FREDERICK LOEWE All Rights Administered by CHAPPELL & CO., INC. All Rights Reserved Used By Permission of ALFRED PUBLISHING CO., INC. v Table of Contents Introduction Page 2 Adaptations of Pygmalion 5 A feminist and socialist play 6 The approach taken in this thesis 9 Scholarly precedents and interventions on Pygmalion and its adaptations 11 Film adaptation theory 23 Chapter One: Shaw’s Pygmalion: Influences and Textual History 32 Ovid’s Pygmalion and subsequent variations 32 Ovid and other mythological influences on Shaw’s Pygmalion 35 Other (non-mythological) influences on Shaw’s Pygmalion 36 Similarities to other Shavian works 39 The gestation of Pygmalion 41 The textual history of Pygmalion 45 Chapter Two: Analysis of Shaw’s Pygmalion 49 Pygmalion: characters 49 Pygmalion: themes and interpretive issues 67 The romanticisation of Pygmalion — and Shaw’s initial attempts to constrain it 87 Chapter Three: Shaw’s Pygmalion Screenplay 97 Introduction 97 A preamble: Shaw’s changing theory of adaptation — and two early Shavian films 103 The structure of Shaw’s Pygmalion screenplay 112 A note on the screenplay texts 116 Analysis of Shaw’s screenplay 118 How Shaw thwarts notions of a Higgins–Eliza romance 132 The ending 139 vi Conclusions Chapter Four: The 1938 Pygmalion Film 144 146 Introduction 146 British cinema in the 1930s: prevailing concerns and genres 148 British film censorship in the 1930s — and the unusual case of Pygmalion 153 The Pascal Pygmalion screenplay: an introduction 155 Pascal’s screenplay and Shaw’s 1938 scenario: a textual comparison 159 Romanticisation in the Pascal screenplay 163 The marginalisation of Freddy 169 Other changes 171 The 1938 Pygmalion film: cast and crew 176 Aesthetics of the 1938 film: an introduction 177 How the film’s aesthetics enhances romanticisation 181 The American print of Pygmalion 189 The Pygmalion film’s reception 195 Conclusions 199 Chapter Five: The 1939 and 1941 Versions of Pygmalion 204 Introduction 204 The 1939 version 206 The 1941 version 209 How the 1941 version discourages the notion of a Higgins–Eliza romance 218 Minor changes in the 1941 version 225 Conclusions 229 Chapter Six: My Fair Lady (stage version) 235 Introduction: Shaw on musical adaptation, and the genesis of My Fair Lady 235 A preamble: musical adaptation, and the function of music in drama 243 Pygmalion and My Fair Lady: A structural comparison 249 vii Romanticisation 257 The marginalisation of Freddy 280 Thematic differences between My Fair Lady and Pygmalion (1941 version) 285 My Fair Lady in relation to Broadway musical genres 290 Conclusions 296 Chapter Seven: My Fair Lady (film version) 300 Introduction 300 Hollywood film musicals in the twentieth century: history and sub-genres 302 My Fair Lady the film in comparison with My Fair Lady the stage musical 309 Aesthetic elements of the film: general observations 321 Ways in which the film’s aesthetics encourages romance 326 My Fair Lady in comparison with other Hollywood musicals of its time 331 Conclusions 337 Conclusions 340 Appendices 346 Bibliography 383 Key to Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Shavian Sources in the Thesis P Androcles and the Lion, Overruled, Pygmalion. London: Constable, 1916. P39 Androcles and the Lion, Overruled, Pygmalion. London: Constable, 1939. P41 Androcles and the Lion, Overruled, Pygmalion. London: Constable, 1941. CL I-IV Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters. Ed. Dan H. Laurence. London: Max Reinhardt. Vol. I (1874–1897) published 1965. Vol. II (1898–1910) published 1972. Vol. III (1911–1925) published 1985. Vol. IV (1926–1950) published 1988. viii CS The Collected Screenplays of Bernard Shaw. Ed. Bernard F. Dukore. London: Prior, 1980. BSC Bernard Shaw on Cinema. Ed. Bernard F. Dukore. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1997. ST Bernard Shaw’s Letters to Siegfried Trebitsch. Ed. Samuel A. Weiss. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1986. GP Bernard Shaw and Gabriel Pascal. Ed. Bernard F. Dukore. Toronto: U of T Press, 1996. CP 4 The Bodley Head Bernard Shaw: Collected Plays With Their Prefaces, Volume IV. Ed. Dan H. Laurence. London: Max Reinhardt, 1972. ix ELIZA UNDERMINED: THE ROMANTICISATION OF SHAW’S PYGMALION “I shall not deprecate the most violent discussion as to the propriety of meddling with masterpieces. All I can say is that the temptation to do it, and sometimes the circumstances which demand it, are irresistible” — Bernard Shaw, Foreword to Cymbeline Refinished, 1945.1 1 From Geneva, Cymbeline Refinished, Good King Charles (London: Constable, 1946), 136. Introduction Second only to novels, plays have provided the source material for innumerable adaptations into a variety of media, ranging from ballets to symphonic representations. In the twentieth century, the plays of Shakespeare dominated the field of adaptations, serving as the basis for, among other works, operas,2 musicals,3 ballets,4 and numerous feature-length films.5 Few twentieth-century plays, however, have been adapted into as many media as Bernard Shaw’s 1912 comedy Pygmalion, which was filmed three times in the 1930s and then musicalised for the stage and screen as My Fair Lady in 1956 and 1964, respectively.6 Noting the enduring popularity of Pygmalion as a play, an Englishlanguage film (1938), and as a musical, Charles A. Berst argues that, “No other modern play has matched its distinction across these three mediums” (Pygmalion 9–10).7 Nevertheless, there are significant differences between Pygmalion, as Shaw conceived it in 1912, and the cinematic and musical adaptations of the work that appeared between 1935 and 1964. The most striking of these changes is the play’s metamorphosis from an anti-romantic social satire to a love story. 2 E.g., A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Benjamin Britten, 1960), Lear (Aribert Reimann, 1978). 3 E.g., The Boys from Syracuse (Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, 1938) and West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, 1957); these musicals are based on The Comedy of Errors and Romeo and Juliet, respectively. 4 E.g., Romeo and Juliet (Sergei Prokofiev, 1935). 5 These range from Laurence Olivier’s relatively faithful screen versions of Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), and Richard III (1955) to Gil Junger’s 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew. 6 Pygmalion has also been adapted for television on a number of occasions. See Appendix Six for production details of these adaptations. 7 One possible exception is Ferenc Molnár’s Liliom (1909), which was adapted (twice) into a sound film (Liliom, Frank Borzage, 1930 and Fritz Lang, 1934), then into a Broadway stage musical (Carousel, Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1945), and finally into a Hollywood musical (Carousel, Henry King, 1956). Unlike Pygmalion, however, all of the Liliom adaptations were in different languages from the original (Hungarian), and, in the case of Carousel, the setting and the names of most of the characters were radically changed. 2 This process had in fact begun as early as the first English-language production in London in 1914,8 when the actors portraying the lead roles of middle-aged phonetician Henry Higgins and his pupil the teenaged Cockney flower-seller Eliza Doolittle had improvised lines and stage business to imply that a romantic union was inevitable between their respective characters. These modifications obscured the culminating point of the play, namely, that Eliza achieves independence from the bullying Higgins. Indeed, to Shaw, an Eliza–Higgins marriage would have been “a revolting tragedy” (CL IV 311). And yet Shaw had unwittingly encouraged expectations of an eventual marriage between these characters by subtitling his play “A romance”. In his (1916) prose sequel9 to Pygmalion — written in response to the efforts of successive stage interpreters to romanticise the relationship between Higgins and Eliza — Shaw sought to clarify his use of the term, stating that the play was “a romance” in the sense that “the transfiguration it records seems exceedingly improbable” (P191).10 However, it is debatable whether theatregoers unfamiliar with the sequel would have inferred Shaw’s intended meaning from his subtitle alone. As David Macey observes, although the term romance had in the late eighteenth century assumed the definition of “describing improbable events in highly-blown language” — thus differentiating it from the “broadly realist terms” that had come to define the novel — “Later usage [has been] strongly influenced by the shifting semantics of the word ‘romantic’, once used to designate a poetic tradition but increasingly synonymous with ‘romantic love’ [my emphasis]” (334). Macey goes on to write that, In contemporary usage, ‘romance’ can be defined as a subgenre of popular fiction 8 Pygmalion was first performed in a German-language translation in Vienna the previous year. 9 This was appended to the first English-language publication of the play in book form, and thereafter retained in all subsequent editions of Pygmalion. 10 I.e., that of Eliza Doolittle, from Cockney flower-seller to high society debutante (and assumed duchess). Shaw went on to write that, “Such transfigurations” are “common enough”, and “have been achieved by hundreds of resolutely ambitious young women since Nell Gwynne set them the example by playing queens and fascinating kings in the theatre in which she began by selling oranges” (P191). 3 written primarily for a female audience, dealing with the emotional tribulations of a heroine, usually beautiful and virginal, and ending with her marriage to a hero who initially spurns her. The classic romance plot . . . traces the transformation of the hero from a distant, insensitive figure who is coldly superior to the heroine, into her tender lover. . . . [T]he goal of the narrative is always monogamous, heterosexual marriage. (334) Clearly, Shaw did not want his audiences to assume that Pygmalion was “a romance” in this sense. Indeed, he had long despised the genre (in the modern sense of the meaning), telling a friend in 1887: “Don’t talk to me of romances. I was sent into the world expressly to dance on them with thick boots — to shatter, stab, and murder them” (CL I 163). One could argue, however, that Shaw’s references in his Pygmalion sequel both to “Romance”, by which he implicitly meant the popular twentieth-century concept of the genre, and to “a romance”, in the sense of his subtitle — coupled with his descriptions of Higgins and Eliza as “hero” and “heroine”, respectively (P191) — did little to elucidate his intentions. In the interest of clarity, therefore, all subsequent references in this thesis to “romance” denote romantic love in the sense of a love affair (or reciprocated feelings of strong attraction) or love interest, and it is my assumption that all of the non-Shavian writers cited herein share this definition. Similarly, whenever employing the term “romanticisation”, I do so to denote the various attempts by Shaw’s adapters and/or interpreters — whether textually or through specific aesthetic means — either to imply the existence of romantic love or to create a romantic ambience between Higgins and Eliza where Shaw’s text11 does not encourage such an interpretation. 11 By “text”, I mean the specific Shavian text in each instance that is being discussed. As will be seen, these include not only Shaw’s stage editions of Pygmalion, but also his own screenplay adaptation of the play. 4 Adaptations of Pygmalion Ironically, in light of the romanticised screen versions of Pygmalion that appeared in the 1930s, it was the continuing romanticisation of the play by stage interpreters that in all likelihood convinced Shaw to allow its film adaptation. Shaw saw in the cinema the potential for permanent, faithful records of his stage works. To this end, he elected to write his own screenplay adaptation in 1934 for the first (German) film version of Pygmalion (Erich Engel, 1935) making it a contractual requirement that the film-makers adhered to his (translated) scenario. Without having seen the resulting film, Shaw also granted screen adaptation rights on the same condition to Dutch- and English-language productions (Pygmalion, Ludwig Berger, 1937; Pygmalion, Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, 1938). For the latter, he revised his screenplay in 1938, depicting what is strongly implied in the 1934 version, but only suggested in the play: that Eliza marries Freddy Eynsford Hill, her youthful admirer. However, the makers of these film versions ignored their contractual obligations, and to varying degrees implied a romantic resolution between Higgins and Eliza. All three films were domestic commercial successes, but it was almost certainly the international popularity of the British film — and its associated potential to influence future stage productions of the play — that compelled Shaw to revise his published stage text twice in 1939 (for, respectively, his 1939 and 1941 editions), on both occasions emphasising (again) that Eliza did not marry Higgins. Following Shaw’s death in 1950, the executors of his Estate — ignoring their late client’s oft-stated opposition to the musicalisation of Pygmalion — granted the musical adaptation rights to the play to Gabriel Pascal, producer of the 1938 film version. The resulting Broadway musical, My Fair Lady (Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, 1956) was essentially an adaptation of this film, albeit a more romanticised version, while its subsequent screen musical incarnation (My Fair Lady, George Cukor, 1964) was in some respects more Shavian than its stage counterpart. 5 However, in each of these English-language stage and screen adaptations — all three of which comprise the central focus of this thesis — Eliza returns to Higgins in the final scene, rather than walking out on him, as she does in Shaw’s play and screenplay. Moreover, to make Eliza’s return to Higgins palatable to audiences, each of these adaptations foreshadows the event through a variety of aesthetic, textual and interpretive means, departing significantly in the process from the play’s central theme of independence. A Feminist and Socialist Play Why should these adaptations merit the atten...
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