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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Five Best: Elizabeth Taylor

courtesy of

We lost a legend last week in the passing of the great Elizabeth Taylor at age 79. Her film portfolio is extensive, but let's take a good hard look at it and narrow down her five best films of all time. It's daunting, but I think we got it. So, without further ado, here are Elizabeth Taylor's five best films in chronological order.

Elizabeth Taylor in "Father of the Bride" courtesy of the

Father of the Bride (1950)

Directed by Vincente Minnelli, this first version of the film starred Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett as the bride-to-be's parents, played here by Taylor. It's a fascinating companion piece to the Steve Martin version - where the new version goes for the silly, obvious laughs (in the role of Martin Short), the original plays it down and focuses more on the heart and sincerity of the wedding planning, from engagement to ceremony.

Elizabeth Taylor and Montomgery Clift in "A Place in the Sun" courtesy of

A Place in the Sun (1951)

In this George Stevens masterpiece, Taylor stars as the sophisticated Angela Vickers, whom every one is "in love with." When young upstart George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) takes an interest in her, he leaves his blue collar lifestyle and girl Alice (Shelley Winters) and starts to ride Angela's coattails. It's a story about class and what really matters when it comes to love, and Taylor is breathtaking as the rich d├ębutante.

Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in "Giant" courtesy of

Giant (1956)

In the seeping epic directed again by George Stevens, Taylor plays Leslie, wife to Texas rancher Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson). It's 201 minutes of the rise and fall of a family and their rivalry with local cowboy Jett Rink (James Dean). When Rink strikes oil, it's the start of our American material age and what comes to us when we have the means to get it. It's big, brash, and a whole lot of overacting at parts, but it's good fun to watch Dean, Hudson, and Taylor so engulfed in such a larger than life film.

Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" courtesy of

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

The Tennessee Williams play tells the story of Big Daddy Pollitt (Burl Ives) and his frustration with his good-for-nothing children Brick (Paul Newman) and Gooper (Jack Carson). Taylor plays Maggie, Brick's wife, who spends most of the film trying to pull her alcoholic husband away from the bottle and resents her in-laws and their "happy family." It's emotional and heated and makes for another sweaty look at family dynamic and failure with a touch of the South, courtesy of the great playwright and director Richard Brooks.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" courtesy of

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

This one takes the cake. Director Mike Nichols introduces us to aging couple Martha (Taylor) and George (Richard Burton), whose relationship seems based solely on alcohol and kick down, drag out fights. One Sunday night, they invite over a young couple Nick (George Segal) and Honey (Sandy Dennis) for a drink. As the evening goes on, Nick and Honey get unwillingly caught up in the abuse, anger, and pain in this vitriolic relationship. Taylor won her second Oscar for the film, her last (and best) iconic performance.

So, rest in peace Miss Taylor. You were a vision and there will never be anyone like you. Maybe we prefer it that way.

1 comment:

  1. Her passing is a great loss. She will always be remembered as a great actress and a cinematic icon.