Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Questions

The best way to cure a St. Patrick’s Day hangover is to read Friday Questions. So as a public service, here they are:

Gazzoo gets us started.

Why wasn't Larry Linville given a proper farewell appearance on MASH? I assume he announced his intention to leave after season five wrapped, but did he not want to come back to do goodbye episode like Gary Burghoff did?

Oh trust me, we wanted to. We were even going to do a special one-hour episode. But Larry didn’t want to do it. He was going through a bitter divorce at the time that took up all of his time and effort. We tried for months to get him to reconsider (appearing in our show, not reconciling with his wife).

I don’t recall what we had planned exactly, but it was a great way to transition Frank out and Charles in. You MASH fans would have liked it.  I'm just glad we didn't write the script.

From Edem K:

Say you're a new writer fortunate enough to get a job on a new TV show. What are your chances for future success if the show you're on is critically panned and commercially a dud? (Examples from last season include the Don Johnson vehicle Blood & Oil, and a sitcom called the McCarthy's.)

I'm hoping the industry forces-that-be wouldn't hold being on a bad show against new writers, but that hope is small.

Baby writers are never blamed. If anything, the fact that they got hired on a network show might help them in securing their next gig. Worry not.

In most cases, it is the showrunner who gets blamed, even though he followed all of the notes given by the network.

marka asks:

Since comedies get shut out of the Oscars, well mostly, I wondered what comedies over the past few years you feel should have won. Including actors and directors. Rewrite history, Ken!

Well VOLUNTEERS to start, but that’s just a given.

John Candy for TRAINS, PLANES, AND AUTOMOBILES, Reese Witherspoon for ELECTION, Kevin Smith for writing and direction CHASING AMY, Matthew Broderick for FERRIS BUELLER, Eddie Murphy for 48 HOURS, Bill Murray for GROUNDHOG DAY, Steve Carrell for 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, Charles Grodin for HEARTBREAK KID, Melissa McCarthy for SPY, Fred Willard for WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, Peter Sellers for SHOT IN THE DARK, Michael Keaton for NIGHT SHIFT, the Real Don Steele for DEATH RACE 2000 (yes, it was a comedy),

Not sure these should have won, but they should have been nominated for Best Picture (at least in the modern age): SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, SWINGERS, ROMY & MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, DINER, BEST IN SHOW, WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, MOVIE MOVIE, LIFE OF BRIAN.

But wait!  There's more!


But wait!  There's STILL more!


And John Hughes should have nominated ten times for writing and directing.

I’m sure there are way more.  What am I missing?   I have to say, I went through the internet looking up comedies from the last five years – Jesus, there were terrible comedies. One stinkburger after another. This is not a golden age of movie comedies.

What’s your question?


john not mccain said...

"Kevin Smith for writing and direction CHASING AMY"

Writing, okay. But an Oscar is a pretty big reward to give somebody just because they learned how to move the camera every 10 minutes or so.

CL said...

Juno was nominated for Best Picture, won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Carol said...

I can't remember if you watch Castle or not, but there was a recent episode where Castle was in LA and one of the people he had to talk to was a network executive. There were so many jokes about the 'notes' he wrote regarding a script, indicating how the notes basically tanked the Nicki Heat movie. It made me laugh, simply because you've mentioned more than once the, er, challenges that come with network execs thinking they're creative. Obviously you are not alone in that thought.

benson said...

Yes,yes and yes! You mentioned a few of my all-time favorites that are pretty much forgotten (Local Hero, Love and Death)

Peter said...

"I went through the internet looking up comedies from the last five years – Jesus, there were terrible comedies. One stinkburger after another."

I once had a couple of hours to kill, so I foolishly decided, against my better judgement, to see the new Martin Lawrence film, which was the third Big Momma's House movie. I hadn't seen the first two but it didn't seem like the kind of sequel where you needed to have seen the previous ones.

Anyway, to put it simply, it was the biggest pile of shit I'd ever seen in my life, and that's including Batman & Robin and Jaws: The Revenge. Big Momma 3 or whatever it was called is so utterly braindead, it shocks me that the people who wrote it actually have representation and got paid for putting out such a steaming pile of unfunny, witless, unimaginative, stupid and useless garbage. I've never found Martin Lawrence funny and this movie only reinforced that fact. It was so bad and Lawrence was so awful, it made Screech from Saved by the Bell look like Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor and Robin Williams combined.

Film lecturers should use Big Momma 3 in classes as an example of a shitty comedy, a shitty sequel and the sort of shit Hollywood greenlights.

Bob said...

Mucho gracias for the viewing list (perhaps not your intent, but what the hey)

Let me add, Lost in America.

The Desert Inn has Heart, my favorite ad campaign of all time.

Stephen Robinson said...

"Goodbye Margaret" is such an effective last line for Frank Burns, one that Larry Linville manages to instill with enough despair that you actually feel sorry for old Ferret Face. It's hard to imagine anything beating that in my mind.

Mike Barer said...

Ken, could you post a possible script for Major Burns departure?

Lyle said...

Hi, Ken ... perhaps a topic for a future Friday question:

On today's date (3/18/16)you mentioned "40 Year Old Virgin" as one of the better movies.

I agree. Kinda.

I went to see it with my girl friend and a former employee of mine who was a gospel singer. He left after about two minutes because of the language. We stayed, thinking that Bobby's moral sensibilities were understandably offended by the constant use of "fuck" in the dialogue.

After about 15 minutes we, too, left the theater.

I'm far from a prude and have been known to say "fuck" once or twice in my life. But it's not a regular part of my vocabulary and I don't really use the word all that much.

Several years later I happened to watch an edited version of "40 Year Old Virgin" on tv and ... it was a neat movie! They had edited out every single "fuck."

Several years later I took in a movie ... "The Ladykillers" - one of the best movies I had seen in years. Except every other word was "fuck" or "motherfucker." As you'll recall, Tom Hanks played the part of a smooth talking Southern con man,posing as a music teacher and/or preacher-man. As I recall, Hanks seldom used that kind of language. It was mostly his nasty and doody-head bad guy pals.

Neither "Virgin" nor "Ladykillers" needed one "fuck" in them. The story was brilliantly written and acted. The word "fuck" not only did not add to the story ... it detracted.

One might argue, "well, the writers wanted to portray life as it really is . . ." Really? That's how people talk in real life? I must be hanging with the wrong crowd. Very few of my pals, male or female, young or old, use the word with any consistency. An occasional "fuck" creeps in and, to my great amazement, I don't melt and the world continues to turn.

I just think the word (and vulgar language in general) is overused ... to the detriment of the film(s). And, yes, I understand the occasional use of the word(s) may not only work but be necessary to telling the story.

But not every other fuckin' word.

Michael said...

First, Larry Linville never got the credit he deserved. He portrayed and inhabited that character so brilliantly that he really was, in a lot of ways, typecast. I think he also was married five times or some such, so there probably would have been another chance for an episode soon enough ....

As for comedies and actors deserving Oscar nods, look at it this way. In 1962, the Best Actor was Gregory Peck for "To Kill a Mockingbird." He was great, of course. But that year, some guy portrayed this British officer in the Middle East during World War I. If you're going to tell me Peck outdid O'Toole .... Well, he didn't. But the Academy has a history of ignoring people who shouldn't be ignored. We might call it the Orson Welles rule. And the year Peter Sellers was so great in "A Shot in the Dark," Rex Harrison won for a musical and comedic role that he nailed so perfectly that I don't think anyone can ever play 'Enry 'Iggins without being compared with him and found wanting.

Carol said...

@ Lyle

I just want to say I agree with you 100%. One reason I've never been fond of HBO original stories is I feel that they do the things just because they can do the things - cursing, graphic sexual content, extreme violence. Nothing wrong with bad language, etc. if it works for the story, but when it's done just for the sake of doing it, it ruins the story. At least for me.

If you're watching something and all you can think of is 'wow, they are certainly dropping that F bomb a lot' instead of focusing on the story, then something is wrong.

mickey said...

lyle-I think I"ve read that what you said ( "well, the writers wanted to portray life as it really is . . .") is precisely what Judd Apatow has mentioned in his push for making comedies R-rated. People have different tolerance levels for curse words--even different ideas about what qualifies. The banter in Apatow movies doesn't strike me as excessively curse-laden, so maybe I'm hanging out with the right people. Theoretically, there probably is a breaking point where the cursing becomes more distracting than funny or critical to character development, but I don't know where the fuck that would be.

Pete Grossman said...

With Tootsie nominated the same year as Gandhi (not to mention The Verdict), it's tough to knock off a deity. God trumps transvestite every time.

Lisa D. said...

OMG Bob! That's exactly what I was going to say...and don't use the word nestegg.

I think the reason there are no funny comedies anymore is because you can say and show anything onscreen now. It's all about how "shocking" you can be. Am so sick of spewing bodily fluids and cursing used to attempt to generate laughter. Farting is funny when you're 5 (OK myabe always) but the rest is just nasty, and not funny if you've ever been sick enough to relate.

Lyle, I agree with you about the overuse of the word "Fuck" but I am one of those pottymouthed people who uses it probably more than I should in real life. Am a classy lady...

Clever, funny, character driven pieces are nowhere to be found these days in any medium. Where the jokes are given thought and room to breathe and drive the story, which is why I love The Goldbergs. It may not be perfect but every show is about something that's hilarious, awkward and heartfelt. Plus it makes me laugh out loud every week, a true rarity. Like Ken, I miss the days when shows were trying to be funny and had actually jokes instead of being all too cool for school smarmy.

It's sad because at the end of a long day all we really want is a good laugh.

blinky said...

Of all the movies you mentioned I think LA STORY was the most perfect movie for its time. It introduced Sarah Jessica Parker, had coffee jokes when coffee was just happening and awesome shower slo-mo. And it was based on a Shakespeare play.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I actually thought the way Frank's departure was handled was done very well . . . at least, it was better than Trapper. Granted, Trapper did have a proper farewell, just not when he actually left for real; but he had a party thrown for him and everything when everybody thought he was going home because of his ulcer. But with Frank, on the other hand, I thought it was a clever move to make up for him not physically being there by us seeing Potter and later Hawkeye and B.J. converse with him over the phone - made it feel like he was still there in spirit in a sense, and again, I thought that was handled remarkably well. I just can't believe at the end of his character arc, he actually got the last laugh on Hawk and Beej by being transfered to a veteran's hospital in the states and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (even though there are some MASHers out there that theorize Frank was just making that up to get on their nerves).

But now I'm curious, Ken - any chance you can share more of those details about what your plans for Frank's departure were?

Ficta said...

Great Recent Comedies last 5 years: The World's End definitely. Brilliant!

And... hmmm....

I've heard Before Midnight is good but I haven't seen it yet.

I liked Frances Ha, Damsels in Distress, and all of Wes Anderson's stuff but they may not be for all tastes.

Steve Pepoon said...

I would nominate "The Dish," a little known comedy from Australia. Based on a true story about a small town in Aussie land that happened to have one of the world's largest radio astronomy observatories. NASA asked them in 1969 to help received radio and TV pictures from Apollo 11. Great time capsule of the time when everyone was jacked up about going to the moon, filled with period music, and hysterically funny. "That's bullshit, Cliff. You bullshitted NASA!"

Earl Boebert said...

Speaking of little-known comedies from the far antipodes (as W.C.Fields would say) I strongly recommend "Rake," streamable on Netflix. A kind of updated "Rumpole of the Bailey," the opening credits will puzzle you until you see the first episode {in which our frazzled hero defends someone accused of cannibalism) and then you will realize how spot-on it is. Along with the rest of the show.

Jeff Maxwell said...

I vote twice for John Candy in TRAINS, PLANES and AUTOMOBILES


Mike Nichols - Director - THE BIRDCAGE
Elaine May - Writer - THE BIRDCAGE

Hank Azaria - THE BIRDCAGE
Dianne Wiest -THE BIRDCAGE
Gene Hackman - THE BIRDCAGE
Nathan Lane - THE BIRDCAGE
Robin Williams - THE BIRDCAGE

They all have sweet, laugh-out-loud moments, but Hank Azaria is often screamingly funny. The original French version, La Cage aux Folles, was hysterical, but BIRDCAGE gets funnier every year.

And, what the hell, Jeff Maxwell - KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE

Milton the Momzer said...

For several years now, the original dramas on networks like FX and AMC allowed the use of "shit" in dialogue, but drew the line at "fuck." Seemed arbitrary to me. Remember that AMC pixelated "fuck" several times in Breaking Bad? But a few weeks ago on People v OJ, one character did say "motherfucker."
Now if the broadcast networks would stop being pussies about "goddamn." I don't think I've heard that since Stuart said it in an episode of LA Law.

Alan C said...

Steve Carell should have won something just for the waxing scene in "40-Year-Old Virgin."

Anonymous said...

I don't know how to ask a question. Is there an e-mail address for Ken somewhere that I'm just not seeing, or does one ask in the comments here?

David said...

My wife thinks that the only reason men enjoy "There's Something About Mary" is that Cameron Diaz never wears a bra, and her nipples are visible in just about every shot.

Aaron Sheckley said...

@ Stephen Robinson: I totally agree with you on the "Goodbye Margaret" line. It's a moment from MASH that always stands out for me, and a good indicator that Linville could really act. I always hated that the writers made him such a sniveling cartoon character rather than an actual foil for Hawkeye and Trapper. I would have much rather they kept more of the Frank Burns character from the movie, and left out more of the ridiculous buffoon the writers turned the character into.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Milton the Momzer Uh, networks have been allowing the use of GD lately. PBS has recently aired a couple of documentaries that used that word (and they were about Jim Henson and Walt Disney, of all people).

And apparently, networks now allow the use of the word "dick" when refering to male anatomy, or when calling someone out for being a jerkass . . . yet somehow, the word "cock" is being censored all over the internet right now, even when used for words or phrases like "cock-a-doodle-doo," "cockroach," "cock-eyed," "cocked and loaded," etc.

Gary B said...

Ken, I would like to add Steve Martin's performance in All Of Me as an Oscar worthy performance. In my opinion one of the most brilliant comic performances ever.

Zappa the Unholy said...

I agree with The Birdcage, and Young Frankenstein. For Kevin Smith though, he deserved an Oscar for writing and directing Dogma. That movie was so far ahead of its time that most people still haven't caught up to it yet.

CJ said...

Flipping thru channels I recently came across an episode of either Dragnet or Adam-12 with Frank Burns! OK, Larry Linville. Surprisingly, nobody called him Ferret Face! But I thought of it...

john not mccain said...

I agree with Gary B. Steve Martin was so funny in All of Me I thought Lily Tomlin really was controlling half his body.

DrBOP said...

Friday Question
Sorry if I missed this, but have you been watching The Goldbergs?
I am watching it via my Levine Sitcom Lens (tm) which I have been trained to use in this blog over time, and the show seems to have all the ingredients you favor in the way of scripting, casting, camera work, etc.
They are hitting alot of home runs imho......what do you think?
(And would you submit story/script if requested by them?)

And small note....there's a bit of a buzz in Canadian movie circles to rename the award that is given out at the CMA's, "The Candy", a/o "The Candy's".
Johnny Taranta would have been thrilled!

thomas tucker said...

MIDNIGHT RUN- one of the funniest comedies ever, with Charles Grodin and Rober de Niro.

McAlvie said...

"He was going through a bitter divorce at the time "

Oh, ouch. I mean, doesn't that mirror the story line a little too closely? As I recall, Margaret threw Frank over to marry The Donald, sending Frank off the deep end.

So many good comedies, Ken, and I agree with nearly all your picks. And yeah, we have too few good comedies these days, or maybe it's just too many bad ones. Well, if everything really comes around again, we should be about ready for the upswing to start. Any time now. *crossing fingers*

Astroboy said...

I've got to add "Hot Fuzz" as one of the best comedies I've ever seen. To me a perfectly made film. The writing and Edgar Wright's directing and, especially, the editing is fantastic. What is really interesting is the the sound editing is so elaborate I feel you can close your eyes through the whole movie and still know what is going on, like a radio program. Actually the whole 'Cornetto Trilogy' of films by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost are all great comedies: 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Hot Fuzz', and 'The World's End'. Also, not sure if it is Oscar worthy, but 'Supertroopers' makes me laugh so hard every time I watch it.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Just write it as a comment, with the words Friday Question near the beginning. Good luck - it's always fun to see Ken pick your question. And don't be Anonymous - make up a clever pseudonym. Many do, but not me. It's a personal failing on my part.

Mel Agar said...

FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL was nominated for Best Picture, but yes to so many on your list and YES, TOOTSIE was robbed. Which movie are we still watching 30 years later -- GHANDI or TOOTSIE? Case closed!

Astroboy said...

To add to my previous comment, I can't believe I forgot one of my all time favorite movies, the British film (a small but great comedy, I think): 'The Tall Guy', starring Jeff Goldblum, and Emma Thompson; Rowan 'Mr Bean' Atkinson is also in it. It's written by Richard Curtis, who also wrote "Four Weddings and a Funeral', and 'Love, Actually.' A good part of the story is about Goldblum's character getting the starring role in a musical version of 'The Elephant Man,' and what makes it such a fantastic treat is that they went to the trouble of writing and composing, choreographing and staging, parts of the 'musical within the movie' and it is so funny and good I wish it WAS an actual musical. And the movie has the funniest sex scene ever filmed!

D. McEwan said...

I felt Gene Wilder should have been nominated for Young Frankenstein.

Dixon Steele said...

Nice that you're a fan of the late Paul Bartel, who I worked with several times.

Igor said...

Maybe you don't consider it a comedy, but I think Will Ferrell deserved a Best Actor nomination for Stranger Than Fiction.

Wild hunch, but I think people thought the role was too easy for him. Or of course maybe they just didn't like the film.

CarolMR said...

Speaking of Larry Linville, actor/director Jackie Cooper (who directed several MASH episodes) said that the only two actors on the show who weren't pains in the neck were Linville and Wayne Rogers.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Reminded of a great use of our favorite F-bomb: A scene in season 1 of THE WIRE, where detectives McNulty and Bunk examine a crime scene and use nothing but that word, and it's great. It carries a range of emotions and reactions with just that word.

Johnny Walker said...

A might fine list!

Friday Question: How far into Season 3 did Nicholas Colasanto stop being able to work, and how did it effect the season? (I got a small taster at a certain weekend in Los Angeles I attended, but there must have been other knock-on effects.) I note that you kept a cold open with Coach in it for the final episode of the season -- but shouldn't there have been an episode with him in it to go along with it? Where did that cold open come from?

Thanks, Ken!

Charles Cavender said...

Glad some others mentioned Steve Martin in "All Of Me," for all the reasons they mentioned and more. I would throw in Eddie Murphy for his dual role in "Bowfinger."

mmryan314 said...

And who doesn`t love Gene Wilder in anything he does -from Blazing Saddles to Stir Crazy- Silver Streak - even Willy Wonka. Looking at him simply makes me laugh, similar to my reaction to seeing Bill Murray or the late Phil Hartman. Just plain funny people.

Pat Reeder said...

I'm glad you brought up the Oscar/comedy subject. This past year, when everyone was so obsessed with lack of recognition for any black actors, I thought, "How about comedians?" They never get any recognition other than lifetime achievement awards. Even Chaplin only got two honorary awards and an Oscar for a musical score. The only way a comedian has a chance at an acting Oscar is in a change-of-pace heavy dramatic role, which is easier. We should launch a new protest hashtag: #OscarsSoUnfunny

I second the plug above for "The Tall Guy," still my favorite Richard Curtis movie by a country mile. But then, I'd rather trim my nose hair with a lawn mower than sit through "Love Actually" again.

Also couldn't agree more with the comment about the recent lousy run of comedies, but my disappointment extends to most current movies. I had to write something that required me to reference a movie from 2015, so I looked up a list of major 2015 releases. I was stunned to realize there was only one movie that entire year that interested me enough to get me into a theater. Currently, the only film I'm looking forward to with great excitement is the Meryl Streep biopic about Florence Foster Jenkins. I just hope they don't ruin it by having a CGI Manhattan blow up and implode when she hits a bad high note.

Storm said...

I was watching "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" recently, after not seeing it for at least ten years, and I was just blown away all over again by John Candy's performance. The scene where he drives the car singing along with "The Mess Around", driving the wrong way and not realizing it, the flash that Steve Martin has of him as Satan when they almost crash... all of it, start to finish, makes me weep with hysterical laughter until my scalp cramps up. Just too hilarious, as it always has been.

But wow, the scene in the motel, where Martin goes off on him... it's still funny ("And by the way, you know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea - have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!") but I'd never really gotten the beautiful, subtle way his face just slowly melts with pain the whole time. The way he chokes out "I like me. My wife likes me." is just too much; it was just more heartbreaking than I recalled, and I got kinda sniffly. So damned under rated, just like his performance in "Only the Lonely"... 22 years gone, and I still miss that big lug something awful.

Oh, and relevant to an earlier post; the first time I saw PT&A, I remember being stunned by how many times Steve Martin says various permutations of "fuck" to the car rental lady (McCLURRRRG!); it was meant to add emphasis. Now it almost seems quaint; it's become so gratuitous that it's meaningless (and I say this as a salty broad that cusses like a drunken sailor with Tourette's).

Oh and Jeff Maxwell, if you come back and check this thread? Your bit in "Kentucky Fried Movie" never gets old or stops slaying me. As much as I love that movie (and I do-- it's better than my Zoloft when I'm blue), I've seen it so much, there are tired bits I often skip over, but I always watch your part, "Cleopatra Schwartz", and Uschi Digard's boobs in "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble". Good times, and thank you for them!

Cheers, thanks a lot,


Intercostal Clavicle said...

I agree that 2011-2016 hasn't been the golden age of screen comedy. Still, hre are some good comedies from the past five years that no one has mentioned, many of which are superior to many of the titles listed before this. I've listed them in (roughly) declining order, and stuck a space in to separate the cream.

"Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa" (2013)
"Bridesmaids" (2011)

"Moonrise Kingdom" (2012)
"This is the End" (2013)
"Top Five" (2014)
"Seven Psychopaths" (2012)

Stretch it another five years and there are more:

"Ratatouille" (2007)
"Borat" (2006)
"In Bruges" (2008)
"Toy Story 3" (2010)
"Knocked Up" (2007)
"Superbad" (2007)

"Tropic Thunder" (2008)
"Four Lions" (2010)
"The Simpsons Movie" (2007)

And then there's "Jackass 2" (2006) and "Jackass 3-D" (2010), which are both funny as hell, but I can see why a writer who wants to see writers getting writing jobs wouldn't want to encourage that kind of thing.

VP81955 said...

The romantic comedy feature script I recently completed has 100 pages and doesn't include one of the "George Carlin seven." Not that I'm a prude by any means -- if a producer wants to add an occasional obscenity to it, I don't mind -- but I fear if I didn't govern myself, I'd wind up with "Glengarry Glen Ross." Fine film, but simply not me.

Jeff Maxwell said...

Storm said…
"Oh and Jeff Maxwell, if you come back and check this thread? Your bit in "Kentucky Fried Movie" never gets old or stops slaying me."

Thank you, Storm, for your very kind words. Please watch every four hours or as needed.

Liggie said...

Going back a bit: Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl in "Popeye", and Jamie Lee Curtiss in "Freaky Friday".

jbryant said...

Lots of good suggestions here. Besides Bowfinger, Eddie Murphy should have been nominated for The Nutty Professor, and probably should have won. W. Earl Brown's supporting performance as Cameron Diaz's mentally challenged brother in There's Something About Mary is also a fantastic achievement, and I suspect he might have had a shot if half the people who saw the movie hadn't assumed he was challenged in real life (this was several years before he was on Deadwood).

Someone mentioned Lost in America, and I would add the brilliant Modern Romance, my favorite Albert Brooks film. A few more that I like that haven't been mentioned are Slums of Beverly Hills, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Break-Up, The Trip, Four Lions, Results, and the underseen Ghost Town.

Hank Gillette said...

And the year Peter Sellers was so great in "A Shot in the Dark," Rex Harrison won for a musical and comedic role that he nailed so perfectly that I don't think anyone can ever play 'Enry 'Iggins without being compared with him and found wanting.

Something I have never understood: Rex Harrison was great in My Fair Lady. But the spoken patter that he did in his songs was basically because he could not sing. Every performance of My Fair Lady that I’ve seen has the Henry Higgins character do the same speaking patter, and of course they come off badly when compared to Harrison.

Why not cast Higgins with someone who can actually sing the songs? It would make it much harder to compare the performance to Harrison’s, and I think it would be an interesting to see the play performed with actual singing.