Elizabeth Taylor: A Tribute to Her Greatest Roles - Page 2
Susannah in Raintree County (1957): Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Eva Marie Saint. Cliff’s character, the idealist John, has an affair with Susannah (while with Nell, played by Saint) while she is visiting Raintree County. He ends up marrying her when she reveals she is pregnant with his child. They both travel to the Antebellum South and John, an abolitionist, struggles against the lifestyle there. It is revealed that Susannah’s mother was insane, and we eventually come to find that Susannah has inherited her mental illness. The story of one man finding himself in the midst of the American Civil War, this movie was based on a novel by Ross Lockridge.The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Taylor’s nomination for Best Actress.
Maggie the Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958): Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name by Tennessee Williams, this film starred Taylor as Maggie the Cat, and Paul Newman, as her husband, Brick. Maggie and Brick have gone home to visit Big Daddy and celebrate his cured colon cancer. Big Daddy is a wealthy man, so you can imagine that most of the family is scrambling around to do his bidding, especially since he still has cancer, but doesn’t know it. But not Brick—he won’t conform to anyone or anything. Not even the desires and pleas of his wife, Maggie. Most of the movie centers on the conflicts and arguments the family has over the course of one day, and the lies they will make up to comfort one another, to avoid dealing with reality, or to fulfill whatever agenda they have. Both Taylor and Newman were nominated for Oscars for their performance.
Catherine Holly in Suddenly Last Summer (1959): Another movie based on a Tennessee Williams play. Starred Taylor, Clift, Katherine Hepburn. The aunt of an institutionalized woman tries to pursue having her niece lobotomized so that she might not be reminded of her son’s death while abroad. She tries to bribe the institution with donations, and her niece’s mother with an inheritance. The doctor in charge of the case feels that if the patient (played by Taylor) could only remember the circumstances of her cousin’s death, she would be cured. When the horrible truth is revealed, it is the aunt’s mental illness that is discovered. Like many of Tennessee Williams’ plays, there are themes spilling over from his real life: homosexuality, denial, and mental illness. William’s sister also underwent a lobotomy, which influenced much of his work, including this play and The Glass Menagerie. Though he was given credit, along with Gore Vidal, for adapting the play to screen, Williams was vociferous in his opposition to the final script and movie. He claimed that Taylor’s fame was being exploited in order to insure success at the Box Office. Regardless of his opinions, Hepburn and Taylor were both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.Continued on the next page