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Entries in Liz Taylor (38)

Friday
Jul152016

Beauty Break: Vintage 1977 - Magazine Covers

Liz, and Liza and Halston, Oh my!

Reminder. At the end of the month the Smackdown returns with a look at the Supporting Actress Race of 1977 (The Turning Point, Julia, Close Encounters, The Goodbye Girl, and Looking for Mr Goodbar so get to watching so you can vote!).

To get you in the mid to late 1970s mood, if you lived through them, or just to engage your curiousity if you didn't, a collection of magazine covers from the year in question. Naturally we'll start with two Best Actress winners and then hit the general collections of showbiz covers...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jun262016

On this day: Liz & Dick Divorced, Harry Potter Published

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

 

1819 The bicycle is patented by W.K. Clarkson, Jr. which could be why June has lots of bicycle holidays like "bike to work week" and such. There's even a Bicycle Film Festival happening in NYC this very weekend.
1904 Peter Lorre is born
1922 Underappeciated film star Eleanor Parker is born. Her two best known classics are Caged (1950, her first nomination in one of the all time best Best Actress years) and The Sound of Music (1965, snubbed in supporting actress). Also born on this day is two-time Oscar recipient Dick Smith, an indisputable giant in movie makeup. Among his classics: The Godfather, The Exorcist, Amadeus, and Taxi Driver
1925 Charles Chaplin's The Gold Rush premieres in Hollywood 
1956 Chris Isaak, hot musician and David Lynch favorite, is born
1970 Paul Thomas Anderson is born. We thank him forever for Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood, but we wan't to be that excited about one of his movies again. The last two...

Divorced on this day in '74. Remembered by Fall '75

1974 And we were just talking about Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ! Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were not Martha and George in real life but their love was volatile all the same. They got divorced on this day in 1974 ten years after their wedding (which followed that globally scandalous Cleopatra affair). But you can't keep Liz & Dick separated for long on or offscreen. The crazy lovebirds got remarried 1 year, 3 months and 14 days later. 
1975 Sonny & Cher divorce. Unlike Liz & Dick they don't get back together.  Meanwhile, in unrelated news on that very same day two FBI agents are murdered on an Indian Reservation. Leonard Peltier is later convicted. The Val Kilmer movie Thunderheart (1992) is loosely inspired by this but with all the facts changed. Very very loosely inspired. Anyone remember that movie? I had kind of a thing for Val Kilmer back then.

1997 J.K. Rowlings first Harry Potter book is published in the U.K. It goes on to become a worldwide phenomenon. Not to horrify but how long until they remake those movies, do you think? (Bitchpleez you know it's going to happen)
1998 Out of Sight hits theaters. That was a goodie
2009 The Hurt Locker opens in theaters. Already an awards presence for '08 (with a Spirit nomination) now it's Oscar eligible & wins Best Picture
2012 Nora Ephron dies. What a loss
2015 The US Supreme Court declares a constitutional right to marriage to same sex couples. Now Jules & from The Kids Are All Right and all the other movie gays can get married - how long until we see gay married couple characters in movies? Twenty years? The movies can be quite slow on this stuff

 

Tuesday
Jun212016

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Pt 1: "What a Dump!" 

You are cordially invited to George and Martha's for an evening of fun and games*

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Directed by Mike Nichols
Adapted by Ernest Lehman from the play by Edward Albee
Released by Warner Bros on June 22nd, 1966
Nominated for 13 Oscars, winning 5.

To celebrate the anniversary of this stone cold classic from 1966, Team Experience is revisiting the picture, tag team relay style, all week long as we did with RebeccaSilence of the Lambs, and Thelma & Louise.

Pt 1 by Nathaniel R
50th Anniversary Four Part Mini Series 

When I was a young teenager, a multiplex opened about a half hour from my house that, like every multiplex, showed whatever movies were in wide release. But here was something novel and unfortunately not copied by every multiplex in the land thereafter: they devoted one of their screens exclusively to charity -- the charity of young cinephilia that is. One of the screens, every showing of the day, only ran an older classic as if it were a new release. For an entire week! Then they'd switch movies. I've never again seen a multiplex do that and if it had been closer to home I would have been the most devoted patron. It was there that I first saw Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I thought it was an outstanding elegaic drama and though I freely admit I was too young to grasp its very adult comic brilliance, I'd rarely seen acting that electrifying. In 1966 when it first arrived the posters said "no one under 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by his parent " Perhaps that was wise as it's wholly meant for adults.

00:01. It's fitting that our first shot is of the moon in the dead of night. George and Martha are not werewolves but beware all who enter George & Martha's lair; this is definitely a horror movie...

Before the score kicks in and the camera descends in longshot to look at a university house, which spills George (Oscar nominated Richard Burton) & Martha (Oscar winning Elizabeth Taylor) from its door and onto the campus sidewalk to stumble home, the orchestra sounds like its warming up. It's a perfect sonic nod to the property's live theater origins. A demented harpist is doing runs before Alex North's Oscar nominated score settles into something gently sorrowful. 

01:45 Already a favorite moment and the movie hasn't truly begin. As soon as the title card appears Elizabeth Taylor starts just cackling as Martha walks across the Virginia to the Woolf. George tells her to shut up because it's 2 AM. 

02:16 How lonely but not alone that shot is! How many times have George and Martha made this exact walk at night from that exact building and how many other couples have they tortured entertained in their home after just such a faculty party. I didn't think about these things the first time I saw it but now they're unavoidable mental associations.

Every time I've seen the movie since that first time, it's been just as electric only now the charge is coming from all corners of cast and crew (how about Haskell Wexler's Oscar winning cinematography!?) and not just the Movie Star Couple at the center. In fact, I felt nearly as aroused as George & Martha whenever they realize they've twisted the knife just right in the other's belly, when I queued up the movie again for this particular revisit. Since Liz begins the movie quoting Bette Davis, we'll do it, too, albeit from a different movie entirely.

Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night.

04:00 Surely one of the great introductory shots in all of cinema, Martha flips on the light. We get our first good look at the central couple, blinking and boozed-up. They've seen better days. Martha takes a look around and starts doing Bette Davis gestural circles with her hand...  

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May052016

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

For no reason whatsoever that's what we're blogging at this moment! (Just humor me, okay? My back is in spasming pain.)

1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the U.S. but 151 years later the topic is still on everyone's minds: see TV's Underground (any of you watching this?), the exciting news about Harriet Tubman on the $20 and two new biopics about her in the works, plus recent and current Best Picture types (Lincoln, 12 Years a Slave and possibly Birth of a Nation

1891 - Carnegie Hall (then named Music Hall) opened in NYC so that one day "JUDY! JUDY! JUDY!" could be recorded for posterity

1914 - Movie star Tyrone Power was born and we still don't have a biopic 102 years later even though Zac Efron would be perfect in the role

1927 - Pat Carroll is born so that 62 years later we might enjoy the genius of her voice in The Little Mermaid 

1955Damn Yankees opens on Broadway and quickly becomes the movie Damn Yankees (1958).

1981 - Bobby Sands dies of a hunger strike in prison. His last days inspire a movie which is just extraordinary and introduces the world to the genius filmmaker/muse partnership of  Steve McQueen & Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave). 

2000 - Freshly minted Oscar winner, mesmerizing new screen presence, brother-kissing and blood-vial wearing Angelina Jolie marries Billy Bob Thornton further confusing / fascinating the world. That same day in movie theaters Gladiator opens which delights the world, Oscar voters, and drunk Elizabeth Taylor

Gladiator!  

Thursday
Sep172015

1963 Look Back: Liz Taylor's 10 Best Looks From "Cleopatra"

Abstew kicks off our celebration of 1963 as we countdown to the next Smackdown (date TBA but probably early October)...

There's epic film making and then there's Cleopatra. Certainly in a class all of its own, the film spanned different countries, directors, stars, budgets, an original run time that clocked in at over six hours, and one legendary love affair far more interesting than the one being portrayed in the final film. Thanks to audiences wanting to see if La Liz and Richard Burton's explosive relationship off screen was able to be captured on the 70 mm Todd-AO celluloid, Cleopatra ended up being the #1 box office champion of 1963...and still ended up nearly bankrupting 20th Century Fox. Originally budgeted at $2 million, the final budget ballooned into an unprecedented amount of $44 million (roughly over $300 million when judged for inflation today) including a million dollar contract for star Elizabeth Taylor, making her the highest paid performer at the time. (She ended up walking away with over $7 million due to delays and a percentage of the box office.)

And it feels like at least half of that inflated budget went toward Taylor's costumes alone. Setting a Guinness Book of World Record at the time, Taylor goes through 65 costume changes in the film and earned all 3 (yes, 3) of its Costume Designers the Oscar for their efforts. Renié was responsible for the women's costumes, Vittorio Nino Novarese created the men's, and thanks to Irene Sharaff, who was in charge of all of Elizabeth Taylor's looks, we have a sumptuous treasure trove of couture fit for a queen (or at least Hollywood royalty). Deciding on a more modern look and color palette than what would have actually been found in ancient Egypt at the time of the film's setting, Taylor's looks influenced early '60s fashion with an influx in Egyptian like jewelry and even inspired a Revlon "Syphinx" line of make-up. So in honor of the film's sartorial contributions to cinema, let's take a look at 10 of Elizabeth Taylor's best looks as the legendary Queen of the Nile...

10. Travel Rug Chic

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug122014

Visual Index ~ Suddenly Last Summer (1959)


This week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot episode is devoted to the film adaptation of Tennessee William's Suddenly Last Summer (1959) in which a brain surgeon (Montgomery Clift) whose hospital is in dire need of cash is enlisted by a filthy rich woman (Katharine Hepburn) to perform a lobotomy on her niece (Elizabeth Taylor) because that niece keeps telling lies about her dead gay son. Got that? That's just the kick-off to the crazy.

This sensationalistic film, which was the third and final onscreen pairing of bosom buddies and immortal stars Taylor and Clift, was nominated for three Oscars: Two Best Actress nominations and Art Direction.

 

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (1959)
Cinematography by Jack Hildyard
Shots are displayed in their rough chronological order. Click on the shot to read the corresponding article.
11 Shots Selected By 12 Participants

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug122014

Elizabeth Taylor in "Suddenly Last Summer". Oh how that star burned.

This is an episode of Hit Me With Your Best Shot

"Suddenly... last summer" is spoken so often in Suddenly Last Summer (1959), Joseph L Mankiewicz & Gore Vidal's adaptation of Tennessee Williams play, that it starts to take on a kind of trancy grandeur. The actresses retreat inward, psychologically, in the thrall of their own theatricality, the overheated jungles of art direction around them, and surely their good fortune to be playing Tennessee Williams characters.

my favorite scene in the film

To a minor degree the repetition of "suddenly...last summer" is not unlike the effect of Rita whispering "Mulholland Drive" like an incantation in Mulholland Dr. The comparison seems apt since both films are batshit crazy sexually charged nightmares in which a beautiful brunette has selective amnesia issues.  But let's not drift away to 2001. We stay in 1959. And two beautiful brunettes is exactly what I want to talk about since Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor loom large in my own movie fantasies, as two of my all time favorite actors. 

Suddenly Last Summer might seem dated in some respects as psychological films often do as science progresses but Elizabeth Taylor's star power hasn't aged a day. She's impossible to look away from and aces the tricky role of Catherine Holly, a woman who is fully sane but goes a little mad sometimes... and not just from the PTSD she's clearly suffering. Taylor is a smart enough actress to go for gray shadings in both Catherine's sexuality and psychology even when the gorgeous lighting by the Oscar-winning cinematographer Jack Hildyard (The Bridge on the River Kwai) is so high contrast and her monologues go so extremely black (the absence of memory) or white (the blazing white beach where her trauma began).

more after the jump

best shot

The beach was very white. Oh how the sun burned. It was like the eye of God watching us, burning, burning. There was no air that day. The sun had burned up all the air. Outside it was like inside a furnace.

And then they came...

This image seizes me. Elizabeth in the sun; Monty eclipsed. 

Which you might say is true of the movie. Both Actresses were Oscar nominated but Monty is constantly overshadowed. I'd argue that his is this adaptation's most difficult role because there's so much less to work with that it's easy to disappear as the surgeon ricochet's between two madwomen. He's best in this, his first scene with Liz; they loved each other dearly offscreen and their chemistry always blazed. It's a long duet in which he coaxes her towards memory and they flirt and spar not a little. The structure of the scene will be somewhat mirrored in the film's climax, Catherine's memory returned.

By contrast Monty practically disappears in his scenes with Katharine Hepburn, where he goes frustratingly blank even when the role suggests so much more than he's giving, particularly in Violet's insistent refrain that he is like Sebastian, her dead (gay) son, in this way or, undoubtedly, that. 

runner up images after the jump if you're a completist or so inclined to consider more options...

Click to read more ...