It’s still strange to me how technology has affected the way society takes in information. 40 odd years ago families gathered around their television sets to hear Walter Kronkite tell them the news that John F. Kennedy had died. Cut to the present day, where I discovered Wednesday morning the news that Elizabeth Taylor had died. Was I gathered by family and friends as we shared a moment together morning one of the greatest stars ever to come out of Hollywood? Nope. I was sitting in my underwear eating my cereal with my laptop next to me, looking at my twitter feed. Immediately after seeing the news of course, I changed my Facebook profile picture to honour her. What can I say it’s my 21st century way of saying you meant something to me lady.
Your life was one crazy ride, and you will never be forgotten.
Taylor was the original diva and never once did she have to flash her crotch to get the attention of the cameras. What Taylor did have was two Oscars, eight marriages, chronic illness and addictions. But during her life aka a tabloid publisher’s wet dream, she also made a few films as well. Good ones. So for all you readers out there who have never watched one of her films before, or just interested in some suggestions to plan your marathon, here’s a list of my favorite Elizabeth Taylor films:
This film stars Montgomery Clift, who along with James Dean nailed the “I’m a tortured, damaged soul but you know you can’t help but love me anyways” style of performance. In this film he stars as poor boy George who while dating a girl at his uncle’s factory Alice (the amazing Shelley Winters, who sadly often got cast as the girl the hero didn’t want) meets socialite Angela (Elizabeth Taylor). Entranced by Angela’s beauty and extravagant lifestyle George decides he must do anything he can to have her, even after Alice declares that she’s pregnant and expects to get married.
This big sprawling epic of a film stars Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean telling the story of a Texas family over several generations. Taylor plays the liberal eastern wife to Hudson’s conservative Texan rancher who has a uneasy friendship with the sexy helper boy James Dean. This was Dean’s third and last studio picture before he got himself killed in a car crash and one of my favorite performances by Taylor. Leslie isn’t just a look a me I’m a pretty girl character, but she gets to have some real moments. The scene where she stands up for herself as a woman in front of her husband and all his cattle rancher friends makes me especially happy in a film from the 1950s.
This film, based on a Tennesee Williams play, about an alcoholic ex-football player (Paul Newman) who spends his time drinking instead of spending time with his wife Maggie (Taylor) is one of those great melancholy stories that only a writer like Williams could have produced. Oh, and the hot, hot chemistry between Newman and Taylor is pretty dam exciting to watch as well.
Believe in love? Just like the devastating Blue Valentine released this year, after watching Taylor and Richard Burton (Taylor’s on again, off-again husband in real life) play an aging married couple who rip each other new assholes one night while entertaining a younger couple. Both performances are so angry and raw this is one of those films that you can’t stop thinking about long after you watch it.
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