Hamish Downie has a new type of column that started backing December as his Holiday playlist. It was so popular hat he decided to make it a monthly recurring column with a movie playlist for each month. Thanks, Hamish for creating a new concept for TG Geeks.
If you have seen any of these films, let us know your thoughts.
When I was young, after seeing Elizabeth Taylor’s marriage to her 9th husband Larry Fortensky in the magazines, I declared to my family that I wanted to be her 10th husband when I grew up. Did I really have to come out as gay after a statement like that? What other red-blooded boy in the 1990s was saying that? By that time, I really only knew her for her legend. The perfume (I used to “test” her White Diamonds and Emeralds every week at David Jones in Newcastle). The Diamonds. The Husbands. The TV Cameos in The Simpsons, The Nanny, and re-runs of Here’s Lucy. Her friendship with fellow child star, Michael Jackson. The Fat Jokes from Joan Rivers. Elizabeth Taylor never did anything by halves. She was always a screen –
The epic 201-minute film certainly lives up to its name. The final film of James Dean (for which he received his second posthumous Oscar nomination), also stars Elizabeth Taylor as the English Rose who falls for Rock Hudson’s Texan Rancher. We see the young bride struggle in the Texan heat, and struggle with Dean’s tormented love for his sister-in-law. Director George Steves won the Oscar for Best Director.
A young Dennis Hopper also briefly appears in the film. The biographers of Hudson and Dean seem to give conflicting reasons for their dislike of each other, but it was certainly clear that Elizabeth Taylor had much affection for both men, and even gave Dean a pet cat, which he adored. Dean also gifted her his personal copy of his favourite novel, “The Little Prince”.
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958)
Elizabeth Taylor would make three Tennessee Willams screen adaptations in her lifetime, “Suddenly Last Summer”, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and a TV adaptation of “Sweet Bird of Youth”. My personal favourite is “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, as the love-starved wife (beard) of closeted ex-baseball star played by Paul Newman (in a role that would have been perfect for Dean, had he lived). Both of whom were nominated for Oscars in their roles.
A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)
Taylor often seemed to play against actors who were gay men playing straight, or straight men playing gay. In this case, she’s playing a Model, and girlfriend of the son of the President of the Eastman Company. Montgomery Clift, another famously closeted star, would play the poor nephew of the President, who gets a job in the sorting room, and soon falls in love with Shelly Winters (anyone who’s watched a Shelly Winters film knows that it’s not going to turn out well for her). Clift and Winters are both nominated for Oscars, but Taylor is snubbed.
After getting into a car accident, and losing his good looks, Elizabeth Taylor insisted on Clift being hired for “Suddenly Last Summer”. She would often stand up for these gay actors when no-one else would. Later in life, she would go on to raise money for AIDS, when no other star dared to.
Probably the film she’s most famous for, and the hairstyle most emulated.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve) directed this four-hour film where Taylor first met and fell in love with Richard Burton, arguably one of the greatest actors of the day. She married him twice (although, Mike Todd was said to be the love of her life), and made many films together; including “Taming of the Shrew”, and “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolfe?” (which won her her second oscar). While a hit at the time, it was so expensive, it nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. It is a truly iconic film that must be seen, especially for the spectacle of her entrances.
As you can see, I haven’t recommended any of her Oscar-winning films, or her childhood films when she was a star at MGM going to school with Judy Garland. But, I hope you’ll enjoy Elizabeth Taylor at her most iconic. The reason why she is famous.
Lastly, a small anecdote from my sister’s old acting teacher, who acted with Sir Laurence Olivier in London. She said that Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor never stopped going to acting classes. Every time they were in London, they were in class. It really says something that no matter how great you are, there is still more to learn about your chosen craft.