Monday, June 15, 2009

BUtterfield 8 (1960)

Elizabeth Taylor plays a hooker in a film that is for the most part, pretty bad.

Oh, and by the way, the BU in the title is correct, it's not a spelling mistake, so I don't want any complains (though at this point any sort of reaction by someone would be desired)

Liz plays Gloria a part-time model and part-time hooker who begins a relationship with the married Weston Ligget, a commoner who has married into money.

Let me say this right off the bat, the only redeeming quality of this film is Elizabeth Taylor's performance, other than that, the film is light on plot and the actual plot evokes no emotional connection. Weston is a total pig, and we are never really shown anything to their relationship beyond scenes of them in various places and hints that they're getting ready to have sex.

The biggest mistake of the film is featuring Weston's wife as predominantly as the film does, because she's made out to be incredibly sympathetic, blaming the affair on herself for being from a rich family, it makes it almost impossible to want Gloria and Weston to make it as a couple. The best way to execute a love triangle (at least to make it interesting) is one of two ways. Make all of the character likable, so we have some sort of emotional investment in who ends up with whom, or make one of the two women or men some horrible person so we can cheer the moment they are left in the dust. Unfortunately, we feel for both women, but we want them to dump Weston as soon as possible. He's a very whiny drunk who's biggest issue is the fact that his wife comes from money, big woo.

There's a minor subplot about Gloria's musician friend Steve (Eddie Fisher, Taylor's then husband) who might be in love with Gloria, but has a girlfriend. Frankly, the plot is very underdeveloped and only serves as a catalyst for Gloria to make a decision later in the film.

As I said earlier, the only reason to see this film is to see Elizabeth Taylor's incredible performance. She plays a woman that craves attention and feels shame for doing so, as well as being extremely vulnerable. There is one scene (the best scene in the whole movie) where Gloria explains how when she was 13, a friend of the family raped her for a week while her mother was out of town. And through tears, anger, and shame Gloria admits to loving it. The scene, which would already be shocking if seen today, showcases Taylor's talent as she allows for a combination of revulsion, fury, sorrow to play across her face.

It's a shame that her Oscar win for this film is so tainted by the opinion (which she also shares, in addition to hating this film) that she only won due to a serious illness at the time, which many thought would have killed her, because she really deserved to win. I'm not saying she's better than the other nominees (I don't even know who they are, besides Shirley Maclaine for The Apartment) but she certainly gave an Oscar-worthy performance, which is the only reason for seeing this film.

Oh, and don't get me started on the ending. It's absolutely horrible and completely out of left-field.

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