Elizabeth Taylor: 10 Classic Movies
Elizabeth Taylor, one of Hollywood's striking beauties, was a compelling actress with more than 50 films to her credit. Here are ten of her best known movies.
A Hollywood Legend
Movie lovers across the globe fondly remember Elizabeth Taylor and her legacy onscreen and off. The actress, who had been hospitalized for congestive heart failure, died on March 23, 2011. She was 79.
According to a spokesperson, Taylor died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Her family was by her side.
One of Hollywood's striking beauties, violet-eyed Taylor was a compelling actress with more than 50 films to her credit. The British-born American actress rose to fame as a doll-faced child star who became a Hollywood legend.
Taylor was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar five times, and she won the award twice in the 1960s: first for BUtterfield 8 and then for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Taylor's Famous Roles
Elizabeth Taylor portrayed numerous roles throughout her acting career. Her most famous one, however, was the real-life role of beautiful and glamorous movie star.
Taylor was a natural magnet for publicity. Her well-known private life included eight marriages, several near-death experiences and decades of social activism.
She was one of the first celebrities to champion the cause of HIV-AIDS awareness and research. Her work earned her a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993.
This hub highlights ten of Elizabeth Taylor’s best known movies. What is your favorite? Share your opinion and memories in the comments section.
1. National Velvet
National Velvet is based on a novel by the British author and playwright Enid Bagnold. While Taylor appeared in other films before National Velvet, this 1944 movie launched her acting career and boosted her to stardom at the age of 12.
The story tells of a young girl who saves a gifted horse from the knacker's yard and, with the help of a former jockey, trains it for England's Grand National steeplechase.
Directed by Clarence Brown, this Oscar-winning film also stars Donald Crisp and Mickey Rooney. In 2003, the Library of Congress chose to preserve it in the National Film Registry for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic value.
2. Father of the Bride
Father of the Bride, a man copes with the emotional pain of his daughter's engagement, as well as the financial and organizational chaos involved in planning the wedding.
Nominated for three Academy Awards, this 1950 film starred Taylor in one of her first adult roles. Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett were her co-stars, and Vincente Minnelli directed the film.
Taylor also starred in the 1951 sequel, Father's Little Dividend. The films inspired a 1960s television series and two remakes in the 1990s starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton.
3. A Place in the Sun
A Place in the Sun is a 1951 film based on the Theodore Dreiser novel, An American Tragedy. The story centers on a blue collar worker who becomes involved with two women: a beautiful and sophisticated socialite and the niece of a wealthy factory owner.
The film features the acting talents of Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Shelley Winters. Directed by George Stevens, it won six Academy Awards. In 1991, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Ivanhoe is a 1952 film based on the classic Sir Walter Scott novel. The story centers on Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a knight of the Round Table, and the two women who love him: the beautiful Lady Rowena and a young Jewish girl named Rebecca.
Nominated for three Oscars, Ivanhoe was the first film in an unofficial trilogy directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Robert Taylor. Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine starred as the leading ladies.
Directed by George Stevens, Giant is 1956 film was based on a novel by Edna Ferber. The critics called it a "sprawling epic" that portrays the life of a Texas cattle rancher, his family, and his business associates.
The film features Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, who died before the film's release. Nominated for ten Academy Awards, Giant won the Oscar for Best Director.
In 2005, the Library of Congress selected Giant for preservation in the National Film Registry for its significance in American history and culture.
6. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a 1958 film based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams. The Oscar-nominated film is considered one of the most brilliant movie adaptations ever produced from a play.
The story centers on the strained marriage of an alcoholic ex-football player and his beautiful wife. The man's reunion with his wealthy father, who is dying of cancer, brings a flood of memories and revelations for the family. Paul Newman and Burl Ives join Taylor in starring roles.
7. BUtterfield 8
BUtterfield 8 is a 1960 film based on a 1935 novel by John O'Hara. It is thought that he based his work on the real-life story of Starr Faithful, a Depression-era flapper.
The unusual title comes from a telephone exchange name once used in North America. At the time, people referred to telephone numbers by letter instead of by number. BUtterfield 8 was the exchange for Manhattan's ritzy neighborhoods on the Upper East Side.
The story centers on a fashionable Manhattan beauty who is part model, part call-girl. Taylor's performance won the actress her first Academy Award for Best Actress. Directed by Daniel Mann, the film also starred Laurence Harvey and Eddie Fisher.
Cleopatra is a 1963 epic that chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of Egypt's Nile Queen and her attempts to resist Roman imperialism.
The movie nearly bankrupted Twentieth Century Fox due to the elaborate sets, costumes, and props. But it was a hit with movie viewers and managed to garner four Academy Awards.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed the film. Richard Burton and Rex Harrison joined Taylor in starring roles. The film earned Taylor the Guinness World Record title of "most costume changes in a film" (65), which she held for more than three decades.
9. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? earned Taylor her second Oscar for Best Actress. The 1966 film is based on a play by Edward Albee.
Set on a New England college campus, the story examines the volatile marriage of a bitter, aging couple: an associate professor and his alcoholic wife, who is also the college president's daughter.
Mike Nichols directed the film, and the cast includes Richard Burton, Sandy Dennis, and George Segal. All of these actors were nominated for Academy Awards. The movie received nominations for every eligible category (13). It won five Oscars and is considered one of the top 100 movies of the twentieth century.
10. The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is a 1967 film based on a William Shakespeare play. It tells the story of a very strong-willed couple: a fortune hunting scoundrel and his wealthy, shrewish wife.
Franco Zeffirelli directed the film, which features spectacular sets and costumes. Taylor and her co-star Richard Burton contributed more than a million dollars to the project. Instead of taking a salary, they opted for a percentage of the film's profits. The movie received two Oscar nominations.
What is your favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your social networks.
- IMDb. (n.d.) [Various film titles.] Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
- Miller, Frank. (n.d.) "Elizabeth Taylor Memorial Program on 4/10." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Wikipedia contributors. (March 24, 2011) [Various film titles.] Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
© 2011 Annette R. Smith
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