Liz Taylor's Six Best Performances

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I know there'll be cries of "But what about...?"

Fine. Chime in with your own two cents. But first, here are mine, culled from a glorious career.

(6) Cleopatra. 1963. The laborious yet somehow dazzling sand-and-eyeliner epic has been chalked up as a bomb by overeager historians, but in actuality every living creature on earth lined up to see it twice, just for the cleavage. Liz brought way more allure and style to the Nile Valley than Mubarak.

(5) Father of the Bride. 1950. As the blushing bride-to-be, Liz was charming and beautiful and (as she proved in real life) extremely worth marrying. Again and again and again.

(4) Suddenly Last Summer. 1959. Her role in this Tennessee Williams claptrap was impossible -- screeching out monologue after monologue about some crazy shit that happened to poor Sebastian. But Liz made it so riveting she even gave Katy Hepburn a run for her grandeur.

(3) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. 1958. This was a way better Williams vehicle, and Liz did this monologue justice, looking so slinky and alluring that you just knew Paul Newman's character had to be gay for not wanting to do her.

(2) A Place in The Sun. 1951. Gay Monty Clift wanted Liz so much in this that he got rid of poor, blowsy Shelley Winters, who couldn't swim for a change. Liz was astonishingly radiant, and everything the American success story represents in physical form.

And the biggie...

(1) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966. I hate to be so obvious, but nothing could top this performance for sheer nerve, a grand reinvention, and a gritty, funny, bawdy leap into dark territory, from the second she chomps into that chicken to her final devastation over the fact that their fake son is dead. "I am, George, I am." Brilliant work for the ages.


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23 comments
Troofire
Troofire

I was with an airhead teenager this afternoon, and a music video with Nikki Minaj came on. She was wearing a dress, wig and makeup that must have been copied from one of E.T.'s outfits in Cleopatra. I told him this and said that 50 years ago you couldn't pick up a magazine or newspaper without seeing Liz on the cover. "Who was she?" he said. "A movie star?"

Pietro
Pietro

Oh my gosh, you forgot little Elizabeth Taylor in "National Velvet" but especially in "Jane Eyre" - her first movie, I think. She's only in it briefly and then she dies but so sweet, and to think of the career that came from it, priceless!

Timmie
Timmie

Let's face it folks, there ain't another A-list star today who could excel in Williams (twice), Albee, and Shakespeare AND play Cleopatra. Devastating.

Gregorama
Gregorama

I'm with you on all six choices. I'm always especially impressed by her work in "A Place in the Sun," considering she was only 18 when she made it. Her revealing portrait of a callow rich girl is sympathetic and multi-faceted, where in another actress's hands would have been one-dimensional and loathsome. She was sophisticated and warm beyond her years, even then. And who can imagine a more beautiful couple than her and Montgomery Clift? My God, but they were gorgeous! Go to YouTube and watch the "closeup" scene in the pool room, where they confess their love to each other...you're almost embarassed to be intruding on their intimacy.

All this---plus her ceaseless devotion to the cause of AIDS. She's a hero in my book.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig

I think my favorite after "Virginia Woolf" is "Giant". She played such a caring, compassionate person in that, not unlike her true self.

Melinda9
Melinda9

She was excellent in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and very good in Taming of the Shrew, but Richard Burton is the star and linchpin of both those films. Once they had a little filler bit of her on TCM and she mentioned seeing Who's Afraid on tv and marveling anew at his performance.

David Dust
David Dust

Why doesn't anyone mention the TRUE breakout role of Taylor's career?? - Helena Cassadine, General Hospital, 1981. Nobody wore a bejeweled turban like Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky.

MikeySoCal
MikeySoCal

That's Monty Clift, not Clifton.

Blog Slut
Blog Slut

Good choices. I'll add:

"Butterfield 8" - The opening scene is the most delicious fuck-you-and-I'm-taking-the-mink thing, ever.

"Secret Ceremony" - This is the one that forced me to look past the face and see the talented actress.

"Taming of the Shrew" - It's one thing to recite Shakespeare. It's a whole other to understand what the lines mean. Liz did.

Rabbit
Rabbit

How do you know Elizabeth Taylor is a true star? She's been in the public eye for 67 years, and her death is a devastating loss.

Gwd
Gwd

I loved her in GIANT with Rock Hudson and James Dean.

efilyojne
efilyojne

Don't forget "The Last Time I Saw Paris!" a classic love story. RIP Mrs Taylor. : (

Helene
Helene

Loved her in "Butterfield 8."

Guest
Guest

She had a cameo in that hot mess "Winter Kills". One scene, about 10 seconds of screen time, no dialogue. Just mouthing the words "Son of a bitch".

PhillyGirlLiz
PhillyGirlLiz

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is my personal favorite as well!!!

rockosmodurnlife
rockosmodurnlife

Virginia Woolf? Somebody explain that movie to me. I've watched it & read the play, seems like a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Guest
Guest

Plus she played my mother in "The Flintsones" movie.

Arthur Darragh
Arthur Darragh

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, will alwyas be #1 for me.

Arthur Darragh
Arthur Darragh

"But what about...?" her voice as Maggie, on the Simpsons?

Cinemaxe
Cinemaxe

I agree re Virginia Woolf and Suddenly., Found her annoying in Cat and negligible in Bride. Also, how about VIPS? I've never seen it but it's supposed to be pretty good.

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