Smartly produced, this makes an excellent job of transcribing George Bernard Shaw, retaining all the key lines and giving freshness to the theme. The speed of the first half contrives to show up the anti-climax, the play subsequently petering out in a flood of clever talk. But it’s still a Cinderella story, which is one of the most reliable subjects for drama.
Leslie Howard’s performance is excellent in its comedy. It’s vital and at times dominating. Wendy Hiller carries off a difficult part faultlessly. She never loses sight of the fact that this is a guttersnipe on whom culture has been imposed; the ambassador’s reception, where she moves like a sleepwalker, is eloquent of this, and even in the final argument the cockney is always peeping through the veneer.
Wilfred Lawson’s Doolittle is only a shadow of the part G.B.S. wrote, but his moral philosophies could obviously not have been put on the screen in toto without gumming up the action. As it is he presents a thoroughly enjoyable old reprobate.
1938: Best Adaptation, Screenplay (George Bernard Shaw).
Nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Leslie Howard), Actress (Wendy Hiller)