Elizabeth Taylor: A Tribute to Her Greatest Roles
I was in 3rd grade the first time I saw Elizabeth Taylor onscreen. It was during summer, on one of those sweltering South Texas hot days, when going outside was like sauntering into hell. I flopped onto the couch and flipped through the channels.
Showing was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Not a movie aimed at an 8 yr old girl, but most of the adult content went over my head, anyway. I was mesmerized by Elizabeth Taylor’s acting, the way the camera caught the contours of her face and the blaze in her eyes.
Yesterday morning, when I logged onto Twitter, someone had posted up a link to YouTube segment of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? All these years later, I am still spellbound by the energy Elizabeth Taylor exuded in her roles. It was as if she had the life of ten people in one body.
Here’s to a life well lived. Here’s to a career with that any film star would die, or kill for:
Velvet Brown in National Velvet (1944): The movie, based on the novel by Enid Bagnold, is about a 14 year old girl who dreams of owning many horses. She hopes to win The Piebald in a raffle and ride him in the Grand National Steeplechase. Velvet acquires a fake clearance document, which lists her as a boy. After winning the race, she slides off after crossing the finish line. This is also the movie in which Taylor injured her back, which sentenced her to a life of recurrent back pain and dependence on pain medication.
Angela in A Place in the Sun (1951): Movie based on Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy. It went on to win 6 Academy Awards. Taylor starred along Montgomery Clift and Shelly Winters in this movie centering around a man caught between two women: a woman who works in one of his uncle’s factories, and a socialite. When the it’s time to make a decision between the two, George dodges choosing anything, instead lying and buying himself time to get rid of one of them. A brilliant film that highlights greed, social mobility, selfishness, this is one of the classics of the American film industry.
Leslie Benedict in the critically acclaimed Giant (1956): Chronicles the life of a Texas ranch family around the time of the oil boom. It starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Sal Mineo. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won the Award for Best Director. It was also the highest grossing film in Warner Bros. history until Superman. The movie tells the story of two warring neighbors, one of whom has inherited a parcel of land that belonged to the other’s family. When the owner of Little Reata discovers oil, it becomes a showdown between the ideals of the conventionalist and the progressive. Other themes that are explored in the film are racism, and gender equality. James Dean died while filming this movie, and another actor had to provide voice-over for him. The editing process also took about a year to complete.Continued on the next page