Friday, December 26, 2008

An Open Letter to Elizabeth Taylor, circa 1963

Dear Elizabeth,

I love you dearly and think you are a fantastic actress. No matter how good Susan Hayward was in I Want to Live!, that Oscar should have been yours for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and only you could have made the heavily censored and camp-tastic Suddenly, Last Summer work as well as it did (and that scream at the very end still gives me chills). By 1960, you were so popular that you jokingly accepted to star in the remake of Cleopatra for $1 million and actually received it- the highest sum of money an actor had ever received upfront to star in a movie at that time. Over the course of a grueling three year shoot in which you nearly died, you made an additional $6 million, bringing your grand total to $7 million (which equals about $44 million in today's dollars). After witnessing Cleopatra tonight, the catastrophe that you and 20th Century Fox call a movie, I have only one thing to say: you need to return every last cent of that ungodly paycheck. I'm not going to blame you entirely, Liz, for the crime against humanity that is Cleopatra- the saying that film is a communal effort has never been more apparent than here- but, honey, standing around, reciting lines like you were back on Butterfield 8 and staring blankly at both of your co-leads (Rex Harrison and Richard Burton, all equally lost and atrocious) does not qualify as good acting. I don't care if you donate that money to charity, finance another movie version of Cleopatra that doesn't suck or place it in a rocketship and shoot it to the moon- just get rid of those ill gotten gains as soon as possible. Thank you!

Dame James


Vera said...

I wrote a review of Cleopatra on Amazon some years ago in which I asserted that the fascinating "making of" documentary was worth the price of the DVD and infinately more interesting than the movie. The hate that rained down upon me was beyond compare. I guess there are people out there really want to love this movie.

Dame James Henry said...

You see, I don't understand how anyone can love this movie. I watched the film on TCM and when Robert Osborne introduced it, he said, "Don't listen to the negative hype...this film is great." Well, I have no idea what film he was watching because the film is a complete disaster. It drags on for forever. Somewhere between the second and third hour, I read the Wikipedia article about this film and the backstory and, you're right, it was 100 times more interesting than the film. Now I just need to track down the DVD to watch that documentary.