Posted at 4:59 PM on March 31, 2008
by Euan Kerr
I am on the road this week doing the college tour thing with Malcolm-the-17-year-old, spent the morning bumming around Boston University learning about class sizes and course options and all that good stuff.
I was somewhat taken aback when we walked into the Mugar Library and came across "A Salute to Rex Harrison." It's a display of some of the papers in the Boston University archive gathered by the late Howard Gottlieb who over the years amassed quite a collection of stuff from Rex (born Reginald Carey,) and a ton of other people ranging from Dan Rather to Groucho Marx.)
The Harrison display includes a large amount of Harrison's correspondence, including the letter to Actors Equity in New York arguing for a British actress to play the lead in the Broadway production of "My Fair Lady," with the argument pivoting on ability to do London accents (which given the subject matter of the play is in itself ironic.)
Also ironic is the spread given over to the production documents and stills from "Dr Dolittle," a movie which some credit for pounding the last nail into the coffin of old style film musicals. It was big and bloated and very long. John Gregory Dunn wrote a marvelous piece about how the film was tested in downtown Minneapolis in 1968, and the studio folks from Fox began to see how much of a problem they had on their hands. It's a marvelous piece and well worth reading.
I tried to show the film to my kids when they were younger, and they didn't even last through half of it.
We had the same problem with Dr. Dolittle. Our second-grade teacher played it in our class, and I think she gave up halfway through.