Stanley Holloway received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Alfie Doolittle in My Fair Lady.
Stanley Holloway portrays Alfie the father of Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) the cockney flower seller who through Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) attempts to gain proper diction, and upper class manners. Alfie really is a completely superfluousness character to the film, since all his scenes are entirely there just to add some more color or comedy to the film, and none of his scenes move along the main story in anyway, but this is a long musical and such character certainly are not unusual by any means.
Alfie is purely there to be there, and really because of that Holloway did have a challenge of sorts to really ensure that his scenes did not feel like a waste of time. Holloway though manages this by giving quite an enjoyable performance as Alfie. Stanely Holloway has a the perfect type of grungy sort of charm. Holloway proves Alfie is not any sort of gentlemen, in any sort of way, but he is quite an enjoyable fellow to watch since Holloway has such a jovial presence in all of his moments.
This really is a relatively simple part though, he just needs to be entertaining and humorous. Holloway is just that in his few scenes that he has whether Alfie is asking everyone he comes across for some money, or in his scene where he goes to get money from Higgins for Eliza. Holloway makes Alfie perfectly endearing through just how much pride there is in Alfie despite his morality, or lack thereof. Holloway's little smiles, and dirty mannerisms, and his whole delivery do just add a nice bit of comedy to the film.
Alfie undergoes no changes, except for the fact that he gets money, yet that does not change him as a man in the least he still acts just the same. So after just being funny in his talking scenes his biggest requirement are his two songs. Holloway again succeeds with these as well being comedic, and sings the songs just like Alfie should sing them, and he helps in making his two songs two of the more memorable songs in the film.
This is not completely outstanding work by Holloway as it is not even the funniest or most entertaining I have ever seen him, that would be in the Lavender Hill Mob, but really this film could not have asked for a better person to play Alfie. Alfie could have been just a poorly thought out distraction, but he gives a colorful joyful supporting performance that succeeds in a way that all supporting performance should succeed in, which is making the film better simply by being there, even if his role is not the largest or the most complex.