Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Taylor’

It’s so true…many movies we’ve come to love and make classic were really box office flops in their day!  You’re going to be shocked by some of these, I’m sure.

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane

1. CITIZEN KANE:  Most often listed as the Number 1 top movie on many lists and the must-see handbook for aspiring film-makers and actors, this movie didn’t do much for Orson Welles career at the time.  Initial reviews were favorable but much of the American public was shielded from them because Randolph Hearst, the newspaper mogul, blocked any mention of the movie,  believing the character was based on him.

2. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE:   There wouldn’t be a holiday season if there weren’t a broadcast of this now-loved classic Christmas story.  It’s hard to imagine a film watched so often by so many could have failed miserably in the theaters, but it did.  The movie cost $3.18M to make and only grossed $3.3M.

3. BLADE RUNNER:  With an opening weekend revenue of only $6M, things looked dim for this movie that cost $28M to make.  It received mixed reviews, while viewers were awed by the imagery, they were alienated by the narrative.  It probably would have been better if the studio had left Ridley Scott alone and kept his original vision instead of meddling with the final cut. The film resurfaced with a Director’s Cut in 1992 prompting critical reevaluation and huge home video sales.

4. RAGING BULL: A favorite of mine as I am in still in awe of Robert DeNiro who totally transformed his body to play the thuggish Jake LaMotta.  It was nominated for 8 Oscars but tanked at the box office.  It lacked the feel-good factor of ROCKY and alienated the viewers first by being shot in black and white which was exactly how it should have been done artistically and then there was the prevalent violence for 2 hours – most people go to the movies to relax and enjoy some form of escapism.

5. THE WIZARD OF OZ:  Can you believe this movie actually lost money?  It cost $2.7M to make and garnered $3M in its opening run.  Viewers did not flock to see Judy Garland, a cute dog and a tornado in technicolor.  However, over the years and many re-releases,  the viewing of The Wizard of Oz has become an annual event in many of America’s  households.

Shawshank Redemption

Shawshank Redemption

6. SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION:  Tell the truth now, do you switch the channel when you see Shawshank Redemption playing? The film finally found its audience on TV.  In 1994 when it was released, it was overwhelmed by PULP FICTION AND FORREST GUMP.  It cost $25M to make and grossed $28M.

7. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW:$  Budget-$1.4M.  This one requires some explanation. Despite making next to nothing ($22,000) its opening weekend, the late night flick is actually the longest running movie in continuous theatrical release, attracting a cult of folks who dress up and shout along to the campy comedy with kick-ass songs. With ticket sales, and home movie availability, it has reportedly made over $365 million! Just like the movie itself, it’s financial success is in a category of its own.

8.THE FIGHT CLUB: Budgeted at $63M it grossed $37M.  Maybe the first rule of Fight Club shouldn’t have been “Don’t talk about Fight Club.” David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel was the victim of a botched marketing campaign (or at least that’s what the studios are saying). It lived on through home video sales.

9.  THE BIG LEBOWSKI: Happy to admit I’m part of the cult club that will watch The Big Lebowski whenever it is on TV.  Not many box office bombs can claim such a cult following, an annual fan festival and religion! Released in 1998 during the immensely successful box office run of “Titanic,” the film starring Jeff Bridges, which cost $15 million to make, debuted to $5.5 million opening weekend.  The film recieved mixed reviews with Variety calling it “hollow and without resonance” while others like Roger Ebert found it “weirdly engaging” like the Dude himself.  The film eventually pulled in $17 million at theaters, but it wasn’t until years later fans used the internet and social media to re-evaluate the film and turn it into a cult sensation.

10.  I’m leaving number 10 blank and giving you all some suggestions.  What do you think was a great film but one didn’t make any money?  Here are a few;  The Fountain, Water World, Assination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Ed Wood, Cleopatra, Heathers, Vertigo, Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, The Postman, The Hudsucker Proxy, Tron-The Legacy, Donny Darko, Once Upon A Time In America

OK guys it’s your hands, let’ s vote for number 10 – one of the above or one of your own.


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English: Studio publicity portrait of the Amer...

English: Studio publicity portrait of the American actress Elizabeth Taylor. Français : Portrait publicitaire pris en studio de l’actrice américaine Elizabeth Taylor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As always I have an opinion I’m more than happy to share with you all about movies, the good ones and the bad ones.  I agree with the comments my nephew, Justin, left for me on Facebook. He was upset about the obvious politics that must go into the choices for Best Picture!  So here are 10 more what I call questionable Best Picture Award winning films.

  1. 1966 – A Man For All Seasons  – This was a very good choice and Hollywood loves a good period piece, BUT complex emotional roller coaster of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?and the commanding and outstanding performances of both Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton should not have been overlooked!
  2. 1960 – The Apartment – I love this movie and who doesn’t love Shirley MacLain and Jack Lemon?  I’ve watched it many times which attests to its ability to transcend decades…but once again a powerful drama enriched with the likes of Burt Lancaster portraying the lead character, Elmer Gantry* should have propelled this movie to the head of the class!
  3. 1956 – Around the World In 80 Days – This is a repeat from yesterday because shame on me, I forgot to mention Giant,* one of the very few movies, the amazing James Dean starred in and he alone, not to mention Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson should have brought this picture to win the BP award.
  4. 1951 – American in Paris  Oh yes Gene Kelly is fabulous in this movie but when Hollywood makes a movie around the star’s talent which is other than acting as it was in this particular film, the movie becomes a vehicle for the dancing. So while others were watching the animation dancing with Gene and believe me I truly admire his choreography and performance, I was watching A Streetcar Named Desire*  with Marlon Brando and Vivian Leigh give the world a stellar performances in a movie that over the years continues to rank among the Top Ten Best Movies ever.
  5. 1961 – West Side Story – A charming, lively, fast-paced adaptation of a very successful Broadway show.  The music lives on and although it dealt with race issues early on, it was no Judgement at Nuremberg!*
  6. 1958 – Gigi – Not my favorite movie just my favorite word as many of my regular readers know this is what my adorable grandchildren call me.  How could Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman and Burl Ives NOT have taken Cat On A Hot Tin Roof* to the winner’s circle?
  7. 1997 – Titanic – Don’t even go there…really?? L.A. Confidential* was a great story with several surprise twists and turns with excellent actors.
  8. 1964 – My Fair Lady – Again a wonderful movie with fine acting and singing yet again an adaptation of a Broadway play and it beat Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb* – Peter Sellers and George C. Scott hit a home run with this iconic film.
  9. 1980 – Ordinary People – This was a very good movie and deeply moving as it explored the dysfunction brought on in a family torn apart by the death of a child.  However, the plot is not original and it forced the likes of Raging Bull *and The Elephant Man *into the loser’s corner. What a shame!
  10. 1994 – Forrest Gump –  Entertaining to some degree, too long and I swear if Tom Hanks had not starred in it, it would never have gotten this far.  Pulp Fiction* was the stroke of genius by Quentin Tarantino with John Travolta and Uma Thurman.

Well that’s it folks, my 10 more worst Best Picture picks.  What do you think? Please do leave us your picks!  Oooh that reminds me I promised one of my readers to include his erudite comment and observation:  ” …1981, where Chariots of Fire beat out Reds, On Golden Pond, Atlantic City and Raiders of the Lost Ark, possibly belongs in that category as well.”

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Screenshot of Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman...

Maggie and Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Everybody has an opinion and as readers, you know I certainly do.  I thought it would be apropos  post my favorite Elizabeth Taylor movies.  Probably there’s been hundreds of articles written in newspapers today but I have been working all day and have not seen the news or a newspaper.  So here’s my list not in alphabetical order:

  1. A Place in the Sun – A triumvirate of talent; Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Cliff, Shelley Winters.  Taylor portrays Angela Vickers,  gorgeous and sophisticated.
  2. Butterfield 8 – Elizabeth is beautiful fashion model, Gloria Wandrous who has an illicit affair with a married man.
  3. Cat on a Hot Tin RoofMaggie the cat, Elizabeth starred opposite Paul Newman.  Hard to tell who was more gorgeous!
  4. Cleopatra – Offered this role, Taylor said she would only do it if they paid her a million dollars and 10% of the gross.  And they did so she did.  And she had Richard Burton to toy with on and off the screen.
  5. Giant – Elizabeth is joined by a star-studded cast including Rock Hudson, James Dean, Rod Taylor, Chill Wills, Carroll Baker, Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper.  I loved this movie but not because of Taylor, this was all about Dean.
  6. National Velvet – Velvet Brown is portrayed by the young Elizabeth Taylor who once again is surrounded by strong actors; Mickey Rooney and Angela Lansbury.  This movie was probably the turning point in her career.
  7. Raintree County – Susanna Drake, a lovely Southern belle who also happens to have inherited the crazy gene.  And again, Taylor is in a movie with lots of talent including Agnes Moorhead, Rod Taylor, Lee Marvin, Eva Marie Saint, and one of her favorite (and mine) co-stars, Montgomery Cliff.
  8. Suddenly Last Summer – Another triumvirate of talent; Liz joins Montgomery Cliff again and Katherine Hepburn.  This time her character, Catherine Holly is driven to insanity.
  9. The Sandpiper – A twenty-something free spirit with an illegitimate son whom she home-schools and lives with  on the beach in Big Sur.  She plays the seductress who leads the minister astray.
  10. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Saving the best for last (I think) Elizabeth Taylor relishes her role as the castrating wife, drinking herself into alternative rages, seductions, and pitiful slobbering denial.  She was at her best in this movie and the Academy knew it.  She walked away with Best Actress Oscar for this stellar performance which was enhanced by her co-star Richard Burton and Sandy Dennis and George Segal.

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Liz Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor legend, Richard Burton, Eddie Fisher, Michael Todd, Michael Jackson, Rock Hudson, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, National Velvet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Paul Newman, White Diamonds, violet eyes, Cleopatra, Richard Burton

A True Hollywood Beauty

They made a song celebrating the deaths of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens The Day The Music DiedElton John wrote a song honoring Princess Diana when she was killed in a car accident, A Candle Blowing in the Wind. They dimmed the lights of Broadway for the likes of Paul Newman and Natasha Richardson , Ron Silver and Jill Clayburgh. When Michael Jackson died, his music was aired both on radio and TV for days.

What will they do to honor Elizabeth Taylor?

She was a star for over 50 years and that’s a hell of a long time to be in the public eye.  As a child actress, she was as good as Margaret O’Brien and Shirley Temple BUT she was able to make the seamless transition into adult roles.

She was beautiful that goes without saying;  She had a luscious curvaceous body, an exquisite face with the forever-famous violet eyes.  She could embody the role of a country girl, a vamp, a drunken sot, a conniving bitch, a regal empress – you name it, she probably played it.  Clearly a Hollywood legend.

Loved and admired by her fans and friends, Elizabeth Taylor was known to be a kind, honest, generous and a loyal friend.   We all know about her steadfast relationships with both Rock Hudson and Michael Jackson proving just how loyal she could be.  She was also an entrepreneur who knew way back when before the term branding was being tossed around that she herself was a brand to be marketed;  White Diamonds made her a fortune.

On the other hand, she was self-indulgent, a drunk, a junkie, guilty of at least 5 of the 7 Deadly Sins, a heart-breaker, a home-wrecker and 8-time divorceé, proving either she was not a good wife or she made very bad choices or perhaps she was incapable of truly loving another person.  She was condemned from the pulpit of Catholic churches for her roles in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.  I remember sitting in  Sunday Mass at St. John’s RC church in Middletown, CT  when Father Miller delivered a hell fire and brimstone sermon condemning Cleopatra and warning parishioners that going to see “that movie which was playing down the street ” would be a sin!

When it’s all said and done and “at the end of the day” as my daughter, Chiara, likes to say;  Elizabeth Taylor was a legend, a title appropriately conferred and not lightly given.  Thank God, for the preservation of films and let’s hope (if they haven’t already planned it) that TCM has a week of Elizabeth Taylor films.

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Liz Taylor, trailer screenshot, cropped from h...

Elizabeth Taylor

If you been with me for a while then you know, last Thursday I listed TEN TOP Romantic movies of all times.  And there are 20 more to come before we’re out of this American Heart Month filled with red hearts, chocolate and love.

However, there is a dark side to some love affairs and these 5 movies are some of the BEST in that category:

  1. Who’ Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? (1966) Starring Richard Burton and Liz Taylor whose off-screen romance had as many pitfalls as their portrayals of George and Martha.   Boozy and bickering, George and Martha needle and humiliate each other in front of their guests, clearly seen as a sick yet symbiotic couple.  Elizabeth Taylor won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as the needy but castrating Martha.
  2. Closer (2004)Also directed Mike Nichols and adapted from a London stage production, it is filled with raw emotion and intense performances.  Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts are all beautiful people who do ugly things to one another and ultimately themselves.  Not your romantic first date night flick.
  3. Blue Velvet (1986) David Lynch (you’re not surprised are you?) creates a sordid underworld of sexual slavery, addiction, depravity, voyeurism and crime beneath a typically suburban setting.  Disturbing and twisted romance involves, Roy Orbison, Dennis Hopper, Kyle MacLachlan and beautiful Isabella Rossalini.   Lynch darkly explores hidden fears and desires and adds unexpected satire along the way.
  4. Natural Born Killers(1994) Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are lovers and killers who as they fall deeper in love, their thirst for killing intensifies.  Oliver Stone utilizes a variety of cinematic ploys as he unfolds this story of undeserved fame and all that comes with it;  frenetic camera angles, chopped up editing and the use of various film stocks.  Blood thirsty and scandalous, the public loves them.
  5. Fatal Attraction (1987) Michael Douglas and Glenn Close filled the big screen with steamy, sexual scenes and equally scary suspenseful moments.  Fatal Attraction quickly entered our lexicon as the universal term for a “crazy”  stalker or ex-lover who just couldn’t take no for an answer.  By the end of the movie, the one you are holding hands with will probably turn to you, shake their head and smile knowingly – clearly conveying the probable demise you can expect should you ever try…..


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