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She won our hearts at the age of 12 in National Velvet, and held us captive throughout the ensuing decades, as famous for her offscreen celebrity as for her many memorable film roles. Arguably the most famous star in movie history, Elizabeth Taylor left a screen legacy befitting her stature as a true Hollywood icon. Now, four of her most famous roles have been gathered in one must-have collection:
Cat On a Hot Tin Roof
Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a modern-day Southern family in turmoil fell victim to 1950s censorship, but still emerged onscreen as potent drama. In one of the defining roles—and greatest performances—of her career, Taylor is at her sexy, sensual best as Maggie the Cat, lusting after her husband and his inheritance with equal passion. As her indifferent mate, Paul Newman earned the first of his 8 Best Actor Oscar® nominations for his tortured portrayal. A superb cast includes Burl Ives, recreating his Broadway triumph as the dying Big Daddy; Judith Anderson (Rebecca), cast against type, yet surprisingly effective as Big Mama; and Jack Carson (Mildred Pierce, A Star Is Born), who brings depth and dimension to what could have been a cliche role as Newman's brother. Includes commentary by film historian Donald Spoto, plus behind-the-scenes featurette.
Father of the Bride
Vincente Minnelli directed this charming, timeless comedy about a middle class family thrown into turmoil when the daughter announces her engagement. The picture belongs to Spencer Tracy (who earned a Best Actor Oscar® nomination) as the beleagured head of the household, but a radiant, 18-year-old Taylor more than holds her own as the bride-to-be. Her scenes with Tracy glow with genuine warmth and affection. Joan Bennett is a wonderful foil for Tracy as the mother of the bride, and there is a memorable bit by renowned character actor Leo G. Carroll as a condescending caterer. Look for young Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story) as Liz's younger brother. Includes 2 vintage newsreels.
Although she publicly expressed her displeasure with the final product, Taylor won her first Best Actress Oscar® for one of her most famous roles: a high-class Manhattan call girl whose tempestuous liaison with ruthless businessman Laurence Harvey leads to tragedy. Based on a novel by John O'Hara, Butterfield 8 received a top-of-the-line MGM production, including Oscar®-nominated photography by the famed Joseph Ruttenberg (Gigi, Mrs. Miniver). In addition to Taylor's dominant star turn, a top supporting cast includes Dina Merrill as Harvey's upper-class wife, Mildred Dunnock (Death of a Salesman) as Taylor's mother and Betty Field (Picnic, Bus Stop) as a wise-cracking neighbor. Today, the film holds added interest for a co-starring appearance by Taylor's then-husband, Eddie Fisher, as Liz's platonic friend and confidant.
Still in the flush of their Cleopatra notoriety—and before winning acclaim the following year in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?—Taylor and Richard Burton starred in this lushly filmed drama of illicit love. Reuniting with director Vincente Minnelli, Liz is striking as a free-spirited artist and single mother whose son is placed—against her wishes—in a strict school for boys, under the direction of clergyman Burton. Soon, the sparks are flying, despite the clergyman's being married to Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront). Stunning photography of California's Big Sur provides a gorgeous backdrop, and the film includes the Oscar®-winning song "The Shadow of Your Smile." And check out young Charles Bronson's performance as one of Liz's Bohemian artist friends! Includes 2 behind-the-scenes featurettes.