Elizabeth Taylor

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Taylor and the World before AIDS


I loved Elizabeth Ashley on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But I was subsequently puzzled and disappointed with the Taylor and Newman film. But the film absolutely outraged Tennessee Williams, for his theme of repressed homosexuality was snipped completely. Growing up in a small Canadian college town in the ‘50s and ‘60s, all Tennessee Williams films puzzled me.

Ah, the 50s and the 60s! My parents weren’t movie fans. They were serious. My sister however was frivolous and luxury-loving. She filled scrapbooks with color photos clipped from movie magazines, mostly of stars like Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson. My parents would watch Raymond Burr, TV’s Perry Mason. My father ran through dozens of Gardner novels. Burr, like Clift and Hudson, conducted spurious public romances to mislead the homophobic general; would you believe Natalie Wood broke Raymond Burr’s heart? And then in A Place in the Sun Burr took Clift’s head. Can we see here a foreshadowing of TV’s Ironsides?


The Last Time I Saw Paris, unlike Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, did mediocre box office. Paris fails like Cat because of the script. It was based on Babylon Revisited, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novella about visiting Paris after the Crash of 1929. As the current financial crisis deepens, Babylon Revisited grows in power. But in the Taylor retelling, the film is set in the early 1950s, and there is no connection whatsoever to history or to the larger world. Paris is quite nice, of course; but the Roaring Twenties apparently occurred c.1948-50.



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