Newsreel: Not even Chaplin, Gable, or Kate Hepburn was more of a movie star than Elizabeth Taylor. She died at 79 on March 23. Taylor rose up from the MGM contract system with a tough, willful, but good-spirited zeal for stardom. She had 58 films, 8 marriages, and many medical crises (her charitable work was deep, not just publicized). Her violet-eyed beauty had its apex in A Place in the Sun, and a decade later it was not quite enough to sustain the ponderous Cleopatra.
Taylor’s acting merged beauty and sincerity, her limited voice sometimes rescued by a Southern accent (Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer, Reflections in a Golden Eye) or rich moments of hysteria (which brought her Oscars for BUtterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). My favorite Taylor role is quieter: Leslie in Giant, so graciously dominating two men she loved, Rock Hudson and James Dean. One was secretly gay, the other “bi,” and both, on screen and off, were in thrall to her stellar femininity and human strength. Glow on, Elizabeth.
Reviewed in the movie capsules: Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune, Sucker Punch, and Winter in Wartime. ■