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Having just touched down from the planet Pluto, completely unaware of who Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were, one look at Liz and Dick would leave you believing the intention of this tawdry made-for-cable smellodrama was to paint a portrait of a pair of beautiful, marginally talented, and hopelessly self-absorbed lushes.

That being the case, Liz and Dick resonates with accuracy. Together, Hollywood's premier power couple contributed more to tabloid sales than filmed entertainment. Of the eleven features and one TV movie they collaborated on, one has a reputation (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), one is a fascinating train-wreck (Joseph Losey's Boom), and the rest either trick deals, excuses to buy more jewelry, and/or vanity projects. Even Vincente Minnelli struggled in vain to make something watchable with the couple.

No director in their right mind would have turned down the chance to work with Burton and Taylor on their first film as man and wife, but according to Liz and Dick that is exactly how Anthony Asquith reacted when Burton suggested that Liz replace the departing Sophia Loren on The V.I.P.s.

If Lindsay Lohan truly believed that a made-for-Lifetime "original" would be her ticket back inside Hollywood's good graces, she's more strung out and delusional than anything previously reported on TMZ. She has the chest, makeup staff, and cartons of cigarettes to visually pull it off, but doesn't even try and mimic Taylor's monotone delivery. (In her defense, Lohan looks more like Taylor than Helen Mirren does Alma Hitchcock.)

Grant Bowler fares much better as the pickled ham who stunk up more frames of film than Pepe Le Pew. When caught between two suicidal dames -- a wife fed up with her husband's philandering and a movie star begging for attention -- Bowler displays more conviction than anything his Welsh counterpart could ever muster.

One cannot expect much in the way of meticulous period decor from a movie with a provisional budget such as this. I'll be forgiving when it comes to attempting to recreat Cleopatra with a crew of six and on a soundstage no bigger than the average dressing room Liz occupied.

The first shot in the film shows Taylor in the late '50's seated poolside and reading a magazine with an ad for Merit cigarettes on the back cover. Couldn't they at least have visited eBay and spent the $3 (plus shipping) it would have cost for a 1959 copy of Life?

Wake me if and when Lifetime ever gets around to making Liz and Larry.

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Comments

dwbat Nov. 26, 2012 @ 4:51 p.m.

Burton did do some fine work, notably Equus and Becket. But in an excellent bio about Burton, he did not apologize for doing schlock for money. He and Liz made a lot of money but they also spent a lot (especially on homes, fine art and jewelry). One can't pay for that lifestyle (and an extensive staff) with art-house movies that critics might rave about. Burton stated in the book that acting is secondary to the writing. He admired great writers much more than actors. He did publish his own writing off and on. And he kept meticulous journals over the years; much of it was used in that bio. And unknown to many (including me), he was an astute businessman. He also owned several jets, originally for the couple's and family's use but later as a successful biz. After reading that book, I had a lot more respect for him, even though he was a lush.

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Colonna Nov. 26, 2012 @ 5:11 p.m.

If only Burton poured more intensity into his acting as he did publishing his own fiction, writing meticulous journals, making astute business deals, and pouring himself more whiskey than Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris combined, Richard could have been the greatest thespian the world has ever known.

But when you're buying your wife the Hope Diamond, making bad movies like "Candy" and "The Assassination Of Trotsky", then schlepping on television with an episode of "Here's Lucy" and a made-for-TV movie ("Divorce His, Divorce Hers" with Liz), and appearing in every tabloid from here to TImbuktu, no wonder by the late 1970s Burton was a shell of himself.

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dwbat Nov. 27, 2012 @ 9:44 a.m.

Burton wrote nonfiction (magazine articles). He talked about the "Here's Lucy" appearance, saying what a horrible experience it was working with the very abrasive Lucille Ball. And over the years between movies, he returned to London to appear in legitimate theater for low pay. But being the "greatest thespian" was not his goal. Who are we to say how he should have lived his life?

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Scott Marks Nov. 29, 2012 @ 4:28 p.m.

"Who are we to say how he should have lived his life?"

I dunno' about you, but I got a blog to fill. ;)

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Colonna Nov. 26, 2012 @ 5:19 p.m.

Liz and Larry? It's been done.

In 1993, ABC broadcast "Torch Song", an adaptation of a Judith Krantz "novel" in which a famous movie star meets a working stiff in rehab and (cue the music), they fall in love. Playing the daughter of the movie star was a very young Alicia Silverstone (pre-"Crush")!

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2012 @ 5:01 p.m.

Rachael Welch!!! Our own local weatherwoman and La Jolla High & SDSU alumni! She is beautiful...as is Liz......

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Scott Marks Dec. 1, 2012 @ 12:33 p.m.

Together they're no match for Chrissy Russo's beauty. And don't get me started on Heather Ford.

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