Weird Little Clip
"Not Bloody Likely, I'm Going in a Taxi"
The first actress to use "bloody" in a British film, Wendy Hiller was primarily a stage actress performing modern roles to great acclaim in London's West End and on Broadway. She attracted the attention of George Bernard Shaw in the early 1930s and became one of his favorite actresses of the time. Shaw cast her in revival productions of his plays, Pygmalion, Major Barbara, and Saint Joan during that period, and insisted she play the part of Eliza in the film production of Pygmalion in 1938. That role would earn Hiller the first of several Academy Award nominations.
There is quite a nice biography of her on IMDb that I won't even try to paraphrase; you should just read it. Instead, I will reminisce, because I first became aware of Wendy Hiller that magical year of my movie memory, 1974, when anthology and nostalgic ensemble pictures seemed all the rage. She played the wizened old Princess Dragomiroff in Murder on the Orient Express, and I remember being instantly drawn to her overbite and twinkling eyes, thinking this is probably SOMEbody. I'm sure she'll correct me, but I recall that my sister told me at the time that Wendy Hiller had played the original Eliza Doolittle in the movie that became the musical, My Fair Lady and (probably) that she was Shaw's favorite actress -- because my sister was that kind of 11-year-old -- but we'd never seen her in any other picture.
Not until Separate Tables turned up on The Movie Loft (Channel 38) or something some years later, and it clicked: wow, Wendy Hiller was somebody. But British movies seldom turned up on television then and I didn't get to see her early work until decades later. Thankfully, now you can access most of her films streaming or on DVD. If you are so inclined to roll back the years on Princess Dragomiroff, I recommend the wonderful Powell & Pressburger film, I Know Where I'm Going, a peculiar, beautifully acted romance set in the Hebrides with lots of wind and sea and rocks and my pal, Roger Livesey.
Wendy Hiller was a tremendous actress and by all accounts, a down-to-earth, untheatrical, generous professional. She was married to British playwright Ronald Gow for nearly sixty years until his death in 1993. Hiller retired from acting that same year and spent her remaining days at her home in Buckinghamshire, where she died on May 14, 2003 of natural causes at the age of 90.