Snobbish phonetics Professor Henry Higgins agrees to a wager that he can make flower girl Eliza Doolittle presentable in high society. Ralph Potts reviews My Fair Lady, the classic 1964 musical starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, which is making is Ultra HD Blu-ray debut from Paramount Home Entertainment.

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The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

95



Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount - 1964
MPAA Rating: G
Feature running time: 172 minutes
Genre: Musical/Drama

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC/max CLL/max FALL: 1000/99
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Wilfred Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Brett, Theodore Bikel
Directed by: George Cukor
Music by: Frederick Loewe
Based on the Play “My Fair Lady” by: Alan Jay Lerner
Region Code: A


Release Date: May 25, 2021


"Eliza Doolittle Has NEVER Looked Finer"


Synopsis:

Snobbish phonetics Professor Henry Higgins agrees to a wager that he can make flower girl Eliza Doolittle presentable in high society. – Paramount Home Entertainment.

My Take:

Based on the Broadway musical, which was adapted from the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion, My Fair Lady follows disheveled cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn) as she meets arrogant, misanthropic phonetics expert Henry Higgins (Harrison), who believes accent and tone of one’s voice determines a person’s prospects in society. Apprehensive of Eliza’s thick working-class accent, Higgins bets his companion Colonel Pickering (Hyde-White) that, within six months, he could transform Eliza into a proper Victorian lady and could pass her off as a duchess at an embassy ball. The feature film includes revered musical numbers such as “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “The Rain in Spain” and “Get Me to the Church on Time,” “I Could have Danced All Night” among many more.

Nearly 60 years after its release this beloved adaptation of the Broadway stage hit starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison remains as enchanting as ever. My Fair Lady is a classic Hollywood film that epitomizes the lavishly entertaining musicals of its period. I thoroughly enjoyed this revisit. Audrey Hepburn lights up the screen in her performance. I reveled in the musical numbers and spirit of the film’s thematic tone. I am so pleased that it has come to Ultra HD Blu-ray. Read on to see the results…


Replay Value:



Parental Guide:

This film is appropriate for general audiences.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.


UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:


UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:


Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA



My Fair Lady comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Acclaimed film historian and preservationist Mr. Robert Harris oversaw the 4k restoration of My Fair Lady and the results are outstanding. It was created by doing an 8k scan of the original 65mm print to generate a 4k master which appears to have beautifully preserved the high-resolution elements contained within.

As with the 2015 Blu-ray/1080p release the results make it readily apparent that a lot of care went into the restoration. Grain is intact across the board and I saw no sign of digital noise reduction or image degrading manipulation. This is a flawless and film like video presentation that delivers exquisite high-level detail and rich, deep, image penetrating colors that look gorgeous in Ultra High Definition.

This is a visually compelling film that strives to recreate the look and feel of the stage play upon which it is based. The restored video quality looks excellent in 1080p, but this Ultra HD rendering is something to behold. Copious amounts of detail can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension. The level of resolution present produces imagery that in many cases lifts the vail, drawing out the finest details in close ups while enhancing the delineation and textural nuance within objects and backgrounds.

The sequences inside of the Higgins house reveal the varied texture in the surfaces made of wood while the beautifully framed shots of the exteriors look terrific. Flesh tones exhibit lifelike textures with natural color and vibrant complexions. Blacks exhibit exemplary dynamic range and appear deep and rich without compromise. Shadow detail is impressive and readily conveys strong dimensionality during the scenes shot in darkened areas and uneven light.

The use of mood setting color is beautifully reproduced (love how the green of the vegetables pops against the shadowy grays in the market during the opening scene), while whites and grays appear gradational and vibrant. The reception sequence (where Eliza makes her public debut) looks terrific, as the rich, interstitial blacks, gradational grays/white, and bright background show off the spot-on application of HDR. Contrast and brightness work in tandem so that dark scenes exhibit good dynamic range and bright scenes are vivid without loss of detail.

I tip my hat to Mr. Harris and CBS/Paramount. This is one of the most impressive Ultra High-Definition catalog titles I have seen to date. It is an immaculate and faithful reproduction that befits one of the most beloved films of all time.



Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.

In comparing the DV and HDR10 renderings I ran the same scenes using my reference UHD player. The title looked outstanding on both formats. I simply wasn’t disappointed with either and gave each my highest rating.


Dolby TrueHD 7.1:

I sometimes receive queries from readers with regard to audio ratings where some feel that a particular title may or may not fit into my rating scale as it coincides with either my description of its elements or perhaps the nature of the soundtrack compared to other films that have received a similar score. I think as enthusiasts we tend to attribute high ratings with bombast, lots of surround activity/effects, and of course powerful dynamics/bass. In many cases that is true however there are cases of exemplary audio expression that can be found in the subtleties and nuance within a soundtrack. My Fair Lady is a perfect of example of this and I will be sure to preface future reviews where applicable with this brief overview.

The films originally recorded soundtrack has been re-mastered into a lossless 7.1 Dolby TrueHD 96k surround mix. Similar to the film restoration it is readily apparent that plenty of care went into the redesigned audio. The mix retains a front oriented perspective and features sparkling clarity and imaging. Dialogue is refined and tonally distinctive as it seamlessly blends with the front three channels. The vocal performances are sibilant free with smooth transitions and opulent texture. Excellent channel separation enhances the discerning of sound effects and the orchestrated elements present in the music as the sound field in the front of the room bristles with sonic detail.

The rear channel surrounds are utilized for atmospheric extension that creates an enveloping presence that appreciably enhances the film’s superlative music. Good dynamic range provides solidity and weight to the audio without sounding unnatural. These primarily come in the form of mid bass associated with the music score and to a lesser degree in support of recorded elements that contain some lower bass content. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of this audio presentation. It highlights the strengths of the source material without ostentatious display and sounds great.


For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: My Fair Lady Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: My Fair Lady Special Features (Blu-ray)
    • Trailers: Awards Trailer
    • Trailers: Trailers
    • Featurette: British Premiere
    • Other: Rex Harrison BFI Honor
    • Featurette: More Loverly Than Ever: The Making of My Fair Lady Then & Now
    • Photo Gallery: Galleries
    • Interview: Comments On A Lady
    • Other: Rex Harrison Golden Globe® Acceptance Speech
    • Other: Academy Awards ® Ceremony Highlights 4/5/65
    • Interview: Martin Scorsese
    • Other: Alternate Audrey Hepburn Vocals
    • Other: Production Tests (play all)
    • Featurette: Los Angeles Premiere 10/28/1964
    • Featurette: 1963 Production Kick-Off Dinner
    • Trailers: With Pride Trailer
    • Interview: Rex Harrison Radio Interview
    • Other: George Cukor Directs Baroness Bina Rothschild
    • Featurette: Theatrical Featurettes
  • Digital Code



Final Thoughts:

My Fair Lady on Ultra HD Blu-ray brings this cinematic gem to viewers via a sparkling and, invigorating 4K restoration that befits its cinematic status. Whether you're a film enthusiast or casual fan this Ultra HD Blu-ray/Digital offering from Paramount Home Entertainment is simply a must have for your collection












Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems