My Fair Lady as a Noir Western

Group Members: Isabel​ and Jake

For our project we chose to convert My Fair Lady into a western film noir. We focused for the most part on turning it into a western but included a few elements of film noir such as being in black and white, having dark lighting, jazz music, and a femme fatale.

Westerns are films that take place in the American West and are usually set around the late 1800s to the very early 1900s, during the time of the exploration and settling of the West. The central theme of these movies is usually civilization vs. lawlessness and they explore morality. The main character is usually a nomad who wanders around fixing problems in various towns. Characters usually live by a code and have a sense of justice and honor. Westerns often include the desert, lots of guns, horses, trains, hats, and gold/money.

To convert My Fair Lady into a western we started by changing the setting as well as the ending of the scene. We set it around late 19th century and in a barn in the middle of an empty expanse. In terms of theatrical elements the costumes and props are all inspired by westerns. Professor Higgins(Jake) wears a cowboy hat as well as Blondie like jacket. Eliza Doolittle(Kia) wears a bonnet and loose, patterned dress. Eliza possesses a large shotgun which she uses to shoot Prof. Higgins when he rides away on his horse. Like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly we decided to include a shot in which the gun points directly into the camera. Also, similar to the torture scene in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the music throughout Higgins death is pretty peppy and not at all dark. Additionally, we included several closeups to show the expressions of the characters faces as well as one wide, establishing shot that is intended to show the emptiness of the landscape. In our scene there is the theme of “civilization” vs. wilderness. Eliza represents wilderness and Prof. Higgins civilization. Higgins tries to shape Eliza into a more “civilized” person but ultimately fails. Wilderness prevails as Eliza shoots Higgins and then proceeds to beat him to death with a wooden mallet. We included the shooting scene at the end to make the scene more of a western as well as a film noir as shootings are common occurrences in both genres.

Film noirs are black and white films with harsh lighting that usually follow a hardboiled detective as he solves a crime that were mostly made in the 1940s and 1950s. They explore themes like morality and violence. There is usually a femme fatale who seduces the detective and then betrays him. The plot is often convoluted and in many cases is a non linear narrative. There is often first person narration and the films are usually set in an urban environment.

In changing My Fair Lady to have some noir elements we started out with the most obvious change, making it black and white. We decided to keep the lighting pretty dark, although there are not any stark, contrasting shadows. Eliza serves as the femme fatale. Previously in the storyline not seen in the scene she seems to be weak. In this scene we see her accept her true power and cast off Higgins. When he reacts arrogantly she easily betrays him and kills him violently. Higgins meanwhile is the hardboiled detective. He isn’t technically a detective but he has some of the same traits; he is overconfident and has a muddled sense of morality. The music in our scene is jazzy similar to the music of many film noirs. The closeups used in the scene also are a characteristic of film noir, not just westerns.

Here is our video: