A Tribute to Taylor

She’s been married eight times to seven different men. She was condemned by the Vatican for her “erotic vagrancy.” She’s received two Academy Awards, four Golden Globes and one Razzie. She saved Montgomery Clift’s life in 1956. She’s given countless millions to charity. Andy Warhol turned her likeness into art and Mattel turned her likeness into a doll. Elizabeth Taylor is a true “Movie Star” and today the legendary actress is celebrating her 76th birthday.

Throughout the following week I’m going to be writing about a few of my favorite Elizabeth Taylor films made during the late sixties and early seventies. Taylor is undoubtedly one of cinema’s great beauties and her early work is often praised by critics who claim that Elizabeth Taylor’s acting talents peaked in 1966 when she made the award winning film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with her husband Richard Burton and director Mike Nichols. Contrary to popular critical opinion, I think some of Taylor’s most interesting roles can be found in the films she made between 1967-1975. During this period Elizabeth Taylor really matured as an actress and with Burton by her side, she was willing to take on risky roles in unusual films that were often financial failures and typically misunderstood and attacked by critics.

In the next week I hope to shine a little light on some of the lesser-known movies that Elizabeth Taylor made during this later period in her career when she seemed to use her age, experience, faults, quirks, addictions, inner turmoil and the passionate relationship she shared with fellow actor Richard Burton to inject her roles with an edgy over-the-top candor that I personally find fascinating to watch on screen.

Related Links:
Elizabeth Taylor at IMDb
Elizabeth Taylor at TCM
Elizabeth Taylor at Wikipedia
Elizabeth Taylor at Divas

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14 thoughts on “A Tribute to Taylor

  1. Keith says:

    I look forward to your blogging on Liz. My paternal grandmother was always a big fan of hers. She is quite a talented actress, but I think her personal life sometimes overshadowed her work. She definitely deserves recognition and honor for the great career she’s had.

  2. Vanwall says:

    Don’t forget, she was one of the best child actresses ever -and nobody made a more appealing teenager, either. She was a very good, if not always great, actress pretty much her entire life. There will never be another like Liz Taylor.

  3. Rick says:

    Liz Taylor, in National Velvet … has she made anything as good since? Just kidding … although it’s my (relatively uninformed) opinion that she descended increasingly into self-parody after “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” Looking forward to your series to change my mind.

  4. Campaspe says:

    oh FABULOUS. This is gonna be good, I can’t wait! I always preferred her 1950s work, especially Giant. But if anyone can make an intelligent, cogent, well-supported argument for her late work it’s you. I’m ready to pull up a chair.

    by the by, how odd that the Vatican would condemn her “erotic vagrancy” when it always struck me that in fact she’s extremely old fashioned … rather self-evidently the kind of woman who thinks sleeping with a man means you need to marry him. I know the Vatican frowns on multiple marriages but doesn’t she get points for *trying* to keep things on the up-and-up?

  5. Jeremy says:

    There is an excellent documentary on the GIANT DVD that sheds some real light on what a warm and caring woman Liz was on the set of it…also includes some of her home movies as well if my memory is serving me correctly…I look forward to your posts…she will always be one of our most special actors.

  6. cinebeats says:

    I hope you’ll enjoy my look at some films by this erotic vagrant! 😉

    Keith – Her personal life did often overshadowed her work, especially after she married Burton. They were such an intense force together that it’s hard to separate their private lives from their performances.

    Vanwell – She was a wonderful child actress and I’m pretty sure the first Taylor films I saw were the Lassie movies, National Velvet and Jane Eyre when I was just a child myself and she made a big impression even then.

    Rick – Hopefully I might encourage you to check out a few of her later films that you haven’t seen yet once the week is over. As I mentioned above, I think of her later performances as being somewhat more personal, but naturally one person’s “self-parody” is another person’s “edgy over-the-top candor.”

    Campase – I love Taylor’s 50s films as well, but I hope you’ll enjoy my look at some of her later and more unusual work. And I couldn’t agree with you more about Liz being a rather “old-fashioned” in may respects! She once said that she only slept with the men she married and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the truth.

    Jeremy – I’ve always thought Liz seemed very caring and giving. She obviously deeply cares about her friends and she seems to always talk well of the people who have come in and out of her life. It’s really impossible to measure the amount of money, charity work and time that she’s given to multiple causes during her lifetime. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Vanwall says:

    I’m not so sure about anybody’s sex lives, (for God’s sake don’t ask Mickey Rooney!) but ‘erotic vagrancy’ could apply to many of her roles, which were reasonably adult for the time, and I’m sure were more influential in society than many an other’s lesser known ones. Plus, she just looked so damned beautiful.

    P.S. Is “Secret Ceremony” on your upcoming gee-whiz list?

  8. cinebeats says:

    Vanwall – Good point! And since Losey is one of my favorite directors, you can expect that I will be writing a bit about the work Taylor did with him.

    Jonathan – The Mirror Crack’d is a little out of the time line I’m working in, but I’d like to see you take a swipe at reviewing it in the future if you’re so inclined! I love a good Agatha Christie film.

  9. Marilyn says:

    I caught about half of Secret Ceremony, which is an odd movie indeed. I thought Liz was a bit shrill in it, but once she got hooked by Mia Farrow into the delusion, she really was believable.

  10. adrien says:

    Netflix just shipped The Sandpiper (1965) to me and then I check your blog and I find this. I rented it more because I always find Burton fun to watch and I love Big Sur, but hey, Liz is cool too! I’ll try to remember to come back and share my thoughts after I watch it.

  11. Peter Nellhaus says:

    I’m also a fan of Secret Ceremony. Identikit had a few interesting moments, but The Only Game in Town was difficult to watch. Too bad Zee and Co. is still not on DVD. I saw the last few minutes in a theater where I went to see an advanced screening of another movie. The audience went nuts when Liz started smooching Susannah York.

  12. robertmonell says:

    I have to get BOOM! by Losey if it’s available. A fascinating film everyone seems to hate, but I love it! Is it on DVD? Also, I want to get SECRET CEREMONY, also by Losey, a rather perverted film which has an addictive atmosphere. In any case, look forward to your writings on them. I like Losey’s “bad” films with Taylor and Burton, even Burton’s TROTSKY. They’re more interesting than other director’s “good” films. I’m ashamed to admit I actually went to see ZEE & CO or whatever it’s called theatrically when it first came out. I guess I need psychiatric attention!

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