Title: My Fair Lady (1964)
Format: 4k Blu-ray
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Price: $19.99 (List: $25.99) Buy on Amazon
Derived from an 8k scan of the original film negatives and other existing 65mm elements, My Fair Lady was restored in 4k and released to a 1080p Blu-ray edition in 2014 to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary. If you’re asking why not 4k Blu-ray, well, the format would not be introduced to consumers until a year later with the first batch of UHD BDs hitting shelves in early 2015.
Why Paramount took so long to release this 4k edition we’re not sure. But the 4k presentation was well worth the wait. The new edition from Paramount features English Dolby True HD 7.1 sound and Dolby Vision HDR.
And, in case your wondering, the Digital presentation (upgraded on Apple iTunes and other digital retailers) now features 4k resolution and Dolby Vision/HDR10. The combo edition from Paramount includes a code to redeem a Digital Copy through either Apple, FandangoNow, or Vudu, as Paramount is not a Movies Anywhere partner.
Details are abundant in this 4k presentation of My Fair Lady. And, rightly so. When you’ve got great source material (the movie was shot on 65mm Eastman Kodak film) and a renowned team working on the restoration process in 4k (lead by film historian/preservationist Robert A. Harris) there are bound to be incredible results. From the opening scene in the Covent Garden district through the entire 170 minutes of this film there is consistent high quality imagery.
Take for example shots of Henry Higgins’ study where walls of books are extremely sharp and clear, or, the details and colors in Eliza Doolittle’s extravagant hat when she first arrives at Higgin’s home to ask for tutoring. The shot in Chapter 17 at 1:04:30 shows incredible clarity of black and white photographs that document Eliza’s speech therapy. And, the shots of the upper class patrons at the horse race in Chapter 22 [1:32:00] show how detailed even wide and deep shots can be.
Much of the credit should go to cinematographer Harry Stradling who produced perfectly framed and focused shots throughout the 170-minute film. It’s no surprise Stradling won the Oscar for Best Cinematography – Color in 1965.
My Fair Lady is presented in 2160p 4k UHD video at 2.20:1 aspect ratio. The video includes the BT.2020 12-bit spec for expanded color depth. The HEVC-encoded video streamed around 55-62Mbps up to 66Mbps in the most vibrant scenes.
The new Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel soundtrack to My Fair Lady is a lot of fun to listen to, not only because it’s a musical but because there are subtle nuances in the dialogue that may have been hard to pick up on in previous disc and digital presentations. We’re talking about the sounds of syllables and in the depth of vocal performances by multiple performers in the musical portions of the film. There is such clariity in the vocal ranges as well as the orchestra.
The Academy was right in awarding André Previn the Best Scoring of Music – Adaptation or Treatment award and George R. Groves the Oscar for Best Sound. Even in the more populated scenes (for example the horse race) the engineers constructed an audio experience that is both exciting and realistic.
There is some notable distortion at a few moments in the film (notably when Eliza screams in retaliation to the arrogan Higgins’ insults), but those are few and far between for a film that is over 50 years old.
The 96kHz audio streamed up to 7.7Mbps at peak volume moments. There are also Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks in French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. Subtitles are provided in English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, an Swedish.
The 4K Blu-ray disc does not include any bonus features (nor audio commentary like the previous 50th Anniversary edition) however the included Blu-ray Disc includes previously-released extras such as the Los Angeles Premiere (Oct. 10, 1964), The British Premiere, Rez Harrison radio interview, several production tests, alternate Audrey Hepburn vocals, and more. This new combo edition is a must especially for someone who never has never seen these extras.
Winner of 8 Academy Awards and nominated for another 4, My Fair Lady is a masterpiece made even more so by 4k & HDR. In its class you can’t find a better upgrade to 4k Blu-ray. Add to the superb restoration a script, cast, and crew that may not be surpassed in its genre, and you’ve got a must-have for your home theater library. The movie is bound to put a smile on your face whether you’ve seen it before, starred in your high school play, or have never considered watching because of its age. We could not recommend this title more, and it will likely be one of our Best 4k Blu-rays of 2021.