Tuesday, October 27th — the Blu-ray release date of the newly restored My Fair Lady — is a big day for film lovers. The restoration and its long-awaited arrival on home video is significant in large part because the property was treated so casually, if not poorly, back in 2011, when the distributor put out a dated transfer that didn’t suit the film’s pedigree and raised the hackles of its many fans, myself included. When word came out over a year ago that a restoration was under way, overseen by Robert A. Harris, arguably the best film preservationist in the business who’s worked on restorations of Lawrence of Arabia and Spartacus, fans knew the film was finally getting the treatment it deserved and that a suitable edition for their collections would eventually be a reality.
As I anxiously await my Blu-ray copy to arrive in the mail, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences with the film, which began in the 7th grade thanks to my English teacher, Ms. Sandhu. After reading portions of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Ms. Sandhu showed us the musical adaptation of the play, AKA My Fair Lady. While I didn’t become enamored with the movie at the time, I remember enjoying it, along the same lines as my enjoyment of The Sound of Music and other movie musicals I’d been exposed to. It wasn’t until Audrey Hepburn passed away in 1993 that I revisited the film, as part of my (admittedly posthumous) fascination with the actress that had me seeking out every movie she’d ever starred in. While My Fair Lady doesn’t rank as my favorite Hepburn title (that would be Roman Holiday), it’s certainly one of her best, has only improved with age, and belongs in any film enthusiast’s collection. In fact, the movie was the first DVD title I ever owned, purchased back in 1998 (17 years ago!) when the format was just starting to make headway. Because of this, the release is undoubtedly the most important one of the year for me personally, but, with its state-of-the-art restoration and presentation, probably the most important release of the year, period.
To find out more about the restoration and the painstaking effort required to bring it up to everyone’s high standards, read the exclusive Home Theater Forum interview by my friend and colleague Neil Middlemiss.