4 Mar 2014

Hestia is Elizabeth Taylor.....Day 5: Career

I'm not about to pretend that every frame she shot was stuffed full of significance and quality, but I've jumped into her imdb page and perused her entire Filmography.  Did you know that she managed to punt out about two movies or screen performances a year right up until the late 1980s? She's got the longevity of Kevin the Pain Au Chocolat, no?

IMDb also lists 43 award wins and 18 award nominations - three of those were academy awards, or Oscars :-)

With an enormous list of movies to choose from, I've selected only
a couple to look at:

National Velvet (1944)

The horse-mad youngster was determined to win the part of Velvet Brown, a young girl who wins a gelding, trains him up and is determined to race him in the Grand National steeple-chase.  I'm not giving any spoilers in case you haven't seen it!  The film was added to the US National Film Registry because they deemed it 'culturally, historically or aesthetically' significant.

I chose this film as significant for Elizabeth Taylor because she fell of the horse during film-making, leaving her with back troubles that dogged her the rest of her life.

Elizabeth 'I am not the star, but I shall outshine you in every scene' Taylor
Jane Eyre
I nearly chose Jane Eyre as my first film because I remember watching it on a Sunday afternoon in the early 70s with my mum and being mesmerised by this little girl (who wasn't even the main character).

The next film that I choose is....... Cleopatra.  Made back in the day when 7,000 extras required 7,000 extras and not some clever computer graphics, it was - and still is - an absolute FEAST for the eyes.  But that's not the reason that I chose it.

Taylor didn't want to make Cleopatra, she said that the first script stank.  But they kept pestering her.  One afternoon when she was in the bath, they telephoned to try their luck again.  Taylor shouted down to husband Eddie Fisher:  'I'll do it if they pay me $1,000,000.' And lo! Elizabeth Taylor became the first actor to earn $1m from a single film.

I also chose it because it was on the set of Cleopatra that Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton lit the fuse on their explosive relationship.  And her relationships is Thursday's blog post - so stay tooned!

Next:  BUtterfield 8  <- no typo, that's how it's spelled :-D

I've not seen this yet, but am looking forward to it.  Taylor plays an upmarket call-girl and she absolutely hated the film.  She had managed to get a part for then-husband Eddie Fisher, but the Studio had really forced her into doing it.  Taylor was getting a lot of bad press as a home-wrecker (Eddie Fisher had been married when they took up together) and the character of Gloria in the film is also labelled a home-wrecker.

She won her first Academy Award for this.  I wish I could be so... breathily detached about winning something that I loathed.  Chance would be a fine thing :-D

I am totally going to start wearing long gloves, by the way........

Next up:  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Taylor and Burton arguably at their finest together.  They play Martha and George,  a bitter and ageing couple who use the presence of a young couple to utterly savage each other.  Taylor deliberately padded up and put on weight for the role,  making herself look older and unattractive.  Tell me one other movie from the 1960s where that happened?! OK - don't.  Just let me pretend that I know what I'm talking about :-D

Taylor won an Oscar for her role as the booze-soaked Martha.  She always felt very strongly that Burton should have won one too.  Think that any of their volatile relationship has also soaked through into their performances?

I found this - Liz presenting an award.  She comes across as very funny and willing to poke fun at herself - she loves a good laugh, this woman.  That's probably why people warmed to her :-)

And finally...... her blooper reel from General Hospital......

So - after all that - what have I learned about Elizabeth and her career? That she could knuckle down and do what she was supposed to do - even when she didn't want to do it.  She was not afraid to ask for the moon - and sometimes she got it! She loved to laugh.  Especially at herself.  Well, we've got the 'laughing at self' bit genuinely in common!

I'm not going to tell you what I'm doing today As Elizabeth.  But I'll tell you at the end of the week  :-)

Today - go forth and ask for what you believe you deserve.  And don't forget to have a good laugh either!


  1. A splendid crop of films though, like you, I have never seen Butterfield 8. I did like her in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and she was very demure (but stunningly beautiful) in Ivanhoe.

    1. I am rather looking forward to my Elizabeth Taylor film collection arriving. Although I'm pretty sure that I'll be entirely alone in the house before I can watch any of it :-D

  2. Ah, National Velvet in particular. Loved the book, loved the movie. For all her delicate looks, Liz was a very tough cookie. Also sounds like you. :)

    1. I've not read the book - Enid Bagnold, isn't it? I might tootle in to the library and see if they have a copy. I may wear large sunglasses and white gloves to do so. :-D

  3. so many fab films........check out A Place In The Sun for some youthful smouldering and The V.I.Ps has a place in my heart......some excellent hat action!!x

  4. I believe you have the author correct. I do remember that the book has a harder edge to it, and you really get a feel for the poverty of Velvet's family; the movie is a little bit whitewashed in the usual Hollywood way, but it captured some of the grit of the original.

  5. I especially love that anecdote about how she became the first actor to earn a million dollars :) Though of course, then she had to do it, darn! You haven't said anything about her shoes, yet, which is something I can imagine you also having in common :D


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