An exceptionally talented actress, one of the most resplendently beautiful women to grace movie screens, a philanthropist, an entrepreneur who knew the power of personal branding, a paparazzi-swarmed and Vatican-denounced celebrity with a penchant for conspicuous, garish excess and a woman who could never escape the wild fluctuations of melodrama, Elizabeth Taylor (1932 – 2011) encompassed stardom in every sense of the word. Noticed as a pre-teen for her angelic face and precocious talent in 1943’s JANE EYRE and 1944’s NATIONAL VELVET, Taylor elegantly sidestepped the rocky, sparkle-and-fade transition that befalls most child stars, and would spend the rest of her life in the spotlight. It was in George Stevens’ A PLACE IN THE SUN, playing the potently alluring society darling Angela Vickers, that she fully realized the Elizabeth Taylor we think of from her early career - graceful, vivacious, the “beautiful girl in the yellow Cadillac that every American boy, at some time or other, thinks he can marry,” as Stevens said. Her career progressed and her range expanded with the markings of a true professional as her roles shifted from exquisitely dreamlike to more tumultuously complex. In CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, Taylor plays the smoldering Maggie the Cat, whose advances are somehow resisted by Paul Newman, while in BUTTERFIELD 8, she gives an Oscar-winning performance as local call girl Gloria Wondrous. In WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, for which she also won an Oscar, she bellows, thunders and marvelously careens her way through the role of Martha with supercharged ferocity. Taylor’s talent, beauty and outsized celebrity also won her roles both canonically significant (Katherina in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW) and that matched her opulent, larger-than-life status (the title role in CLEOPATRA).
“She was a lovely actress and a better star. She embodied the excesses of Hollywood and she transcended them. In the end, the genius of her career was that she gave the world everything it wanted from a glamorous star, the excitement and drama, the diamonds and gossip, and she did it by refusing to become fame’s martyr.” - Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.
Join us for a tribute to the career of Elizabeth Taylor, including a screening of George Stevens’ GIANT.
At all screenings of this program, ticket buyers eligible to enter a drawing for a free DVD box set of Elizabeth Taylor classics. Special thanks to Warner Home Video for this giveaway!
Concurrent with our Elizabeth Taylor film series is an exhibition at the Hollywood Museum that includes Taylor’s gold throne and palace ornaments from CLEOPATRA, plus her blue, one-shoulder gown and cape, and her hat from NATIONAL VELVET and purple dress from MALICE IN WONDERLAND. $2 off Museum Admission with your Egyptian Theatre ticket stub! For details: www.thehollywoodmuseum.com, 1660 N. Highland Avenue (South of Hollywood Boulevard).
Series compiled by Grant Moninger and Gwen Deglise. Program notes by Beth Hanna.