Shame of a Nation: Elizabeth Taylor Edition

Shame of a Nation is where we reveal our dark, dirty, secret shame. Stay tuned as we admit the awful truth about the classic films we’ve yet to see . . . Veritas vos liberabit.

In the wake of Elizabeth Taylor’s passing, I’m ashamed to admit that I have only seen five of her movies, one of which is The Flintstones. Being the movie geek that I am, with my predilection for cinema classics, how could I make such an egregious error as to gloss over the work of, as Brandon put it, THE movie star?

I’ve seen Giant and Secret Ceremony and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but that’s it. In spite of seeing so few of her films, I do agree that she personified the glitz and glamor of the golden age of Hollywood. But, she was so much more than just a radiant starlet. She was also a great actress. In addition to missing out on most of Liz Taylor’s movies, I’ve also neglected to do my Shame of a Nation list. So, here’s my Liz-centric Shame of a Nation list.

10. National Velvet (1944)
– Dir. Clarence Brown

Why I should have seen it: It’s the film that launched Liz to stardom.

Why I haven’t seen it: It’s about a girl and her horse.

9. Father of the Bride (1950) – Dir. Vincente Minnelli

Why I should see it: Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy in a comedy together. And I love the remake with Steve Martin.

Why I haven’t seen it: I love the remake with Steve Martin.

8. Little Women (1949) – Dir. Mervyn LeRoy

Why I should have seen it: It’s an adaptation of the timeless literary classic.

Why I haven’t seen it: I haven’t read Louisa May Alcott’s timeless literary classic, nor have I seen the 1933 version starring Katharine Hepburn. But don’t worry, I haven’t seen the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder either.

7. Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) – Dir. John Huston

Why I should have seen it: John Huston directs Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in a bizarre film about sex. Why aren’t I watching this right now!?!

Why I haven’t seen it: It just seems like such a bizarre acquired taste that I’ve yet to get around to it. And I didn’t know John Huston directed it ’til just now.

6. The V.I.P.s (1963) – Dir. Anthony Asquith

Why I should have seen it: It’s the first time Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starred together in a film . . . which also happens to star Orson Welles and Maggie Smith. Yes, please!

Why I haven’t seen it: Uh . . . cause it’s not on Netflix instant and I’ve had the same Netflix DVDs since December.

5. Cleopatra (1963) – Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Why I should have seen it: It’s probably Elizabeth Taylor’s most iconic role.

Why I haven’t seen it: I’ve just never been that interested in Cleopatra, the person.

4. Butterfield 8 (1960) – Dir. Daniel Mann

Why I should have seen it: I could say that it’s because she won an Oscar, but the real reason is she looks so damn sexy in this movie. Her image on the poster is simply provocative.

Why I haven’t seen it: I have no rational reason. I just haven’t, even though I stop and look at it every time I see the DVD at my local video store.

3. The Taming of the Shrew (1967) – Dir. Franco Zeffirelli

Why I should have seen it: Franco Zeffirelli directs Elizabeth Taylor as Katharina and Richard Burton as Petruchio.

Why I haven’t seen it: Can it live up to the “Atomic Shakespeare” episode of Moonlighting where the cast adapts The Taming of the Shrew? Idunno. I mean, sure it’s Taylor and Burton, but David and Maddie plus a musical number, that’s tough to beat.

2. Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) – Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Why I should have seen it: I’ve never seen a Tennessee Williams play I didn’t like, throw in Liz Taylor and Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift. What could go wrong?

Why I haven’t seen it: I have no good reason . . . cause I wanted to watch Night of the Iguana more, does that count?

1. A Place in the Sun (1951) – Dir. George Stevens

Why I should have seen it: It just looks so damn good. It’s a gorgeous slice of Americana directed by George Stevens, who also directed Giant, and it’s billed as an American tragedy.

Why I haven’t seen it: I don’t know. I’ve seriously neglected Liz Taylor’s work. But, I shall remedy that post-haste.

Any recommendations? Which of Liz’s movies are must-see?

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3 responses to “Shame of a Nation: Elizabeth Taylor Edition

  1. You should start with PLACE IN THE SUN–one of the greatest films of all time. Here’s a post I wrote about it on my own blog: http://buckleybulletin.blogspot.com/2009/10/to-want-and-not-to-have.html

    • Every time I walk past it at my video store I feel bad for not renting it. And now I’m guessing their gonna be out of her movies for a while. But it is definitely at the top of my list.

  2. Yeah, I’m in the same boat as you. I haven’t seen any on your list except for #1.
    And I didn’t really care for A Place in the Sun.
    And I haven’t seen Woolf as I’ve said before.
    But I did see (and enjoy) Giant and Cat.

    Otherwise most of her films just don’t sound that interesting even if she’s good in them. Cleopatra is supposedly terrible (and long)… so on and so forth.

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