It’s not yet two years since Elizabeth Taylor checked out but it’s long enough to take yet another look back at her awesome talent.
Elizabeth Taylor has been called the ‘greatest movie star of all’ not just because of her on screen talent, but her intelligence, her wit, her wildness, her passion, her charity and her strength. We could write all day about her eight marriages, he love affair with Richard Burton, her conversion to Judaism, her drinking, her work for HIV/AIDS, her friendship with Michael Jackson, but better to just look at her talent.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget what made he the world’s most famous actress in the first place. The film industry knew it, bestowing two Oscars on her, and her adoring public knew it too. Taylor though, refused to acknowledge it as anything extraordinary explaining her talent as ‘miniscule – it’s not technique, it’s instinct and a certain ability to concentrate.’ Is there anyone today that can compare to Taylor? The answer is no.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Taylor stars as breathless Southern belle Maggie ‘Maggie the Cat’ Politt caught in a loveless marriage with Brick Politt, Paul Newman. Based on the Oulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Tennasse Williams, Taylor sparkles from the very first moment to the last and utterly owns every second of film.
Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Taylor garnered a second Academy Award for her portrayal of Martha in the film adaptation of the Edward Albee play. The fact she was playing opposite Richard Burton added real bite to the venomous overtones to her lines. It was a shock decision to cast Taylor, at the time considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, to play the frumpy mid-fiftyish Martha but she gained 13.5 kg for the role and the decision was vindicated with a virtuaoso performance.
Taylor plays Gloria Wandrous, the ultimate goodtime girl who is forced to face her life and how it’s become a series of tricks and one night stands. Finally growing up Gloria determines that the house always wins and the game she has chosen to play will ultimately see her the loser. Risky stuff for it’s time, and it illuminates an very present under world of illicit behaviour so far removed form the American Dream.
A Place in the Sun
Ridiculously over indulgent melodrama if you like that kind of thing. This was Taylor’s ‘coming of age’ role and she plays the part of misty-eyed Angela Vickers with aplomb. She’s totally natural and bewitching, it’s impossible to take your eyes off her. The scary thing is, she was only seventeen when this was made.
This isn’t a monologue but it captures the off screen relationship of Taylor and Burton brilliantly. The couple probably rehearsed this seen a thousand times in real life making it crazily hyper real and believable. Apparently based on Vivian Leigh’s attempts to leave her then husband Laurence Olivier and fly off with her lover actor Peter Finch, only to be delayed by Fog at Heathrow airport. A case of art-imitating-life-imitating-art…. those thespians, really, could you imagine that kind of drama happening today?