Picks and Pans Review: Biography: Elizabeth Taylor
It's not particularly probing or insightful. In fact it's pretty puffy. But watching this two-hour survey of Elizabeth Taylor's glamorous, turbulent life is like leafing through a collection of old fan magazines. Once you start, it's so easy to keep going.
With her multiple marriages (eight, counting two to Richard Burton) and medical crises (including near-fatal pneumonia and a brain tumor), Taylor has had at least as much drama offscreen as on. As the documentary points out, her torrid affair with Cleopatra costar Burton in the early '60s—when her husband was singer Eddie Fisher—even drew a denunciation from the Pope. Now that's a scandal.
Given the subject matter, this Biography probably could have held our interest with movie clips, newsreel footage and the comments of celebrity chroniclers and friends (from a gushy Mickey Rooney to a candid but admiring Shirley MacLaine). But the profile's best feature is a fresh interview with the 71-year-old Taylor, who reminisces and emotes with a zest that indicates she's still enthralled by her own story. If you've wondered where she derived inspiration for her ferociously vulgar performance in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, check out Taylor's imitation of studio boss Louis B. Mayer in high dudgeon.
BOTTOM LINE: Good stargazing