On Thursdays in November and December, the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House presents a tribute to one of the great sirens of the silver screen, the incomparable Elizabeth Taylor, with a film series titled A Place in the Sun: The Films of Elizabeth Taylor.
When Taylor passed away in March 2011, so passed one of the last bona fide queens of a bygone era. While her stunning looks and tabloid-ready personal life often eclipsed her talent in the public’s eye, her staggering career lasted nearly 70 years, encompassing triumphs on stage, screen, and television. Although Taylor had been acting for several years, her big break came at age 12 as plucky jockey Velvet Brown in National Velvet. Unlike other child stars of her day, her appeal came not from her girlishness, but from her preternatural assuredness and dark beauty, traits that helped her ease into adult roles after a string of mostly forgettable contract pictures.
Taylor with Mickey Rooney in NATIONAL VELVET (1945).
She came into her own as an adult star — at age 17 — with the first of three iconic collaborations with lifelong friend Montgomery Clift, A Place In The Sun. As the intoxicating socialite who tempts working-class Clift away from his pregnant girlfriend, Taylor earned widespread acclaim and cemented her reputation as a serious actress.
It wasn’t until 1956, however, that Taylor truly entered the Hollywood stratosphere, earning four Academy Award® nominations in a row for iconic performances in films like Raintree County, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and her first Oscar® triumph, Butterfield 8. Not classically trained, it was her charisma, her presence, and her tough charm that would come to define her acting style and persona. Taylor earned her well-earned second Academy Award® for Best Actress® for her role in the 1966 film Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
As ‘Maggie the Cat’ in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, (1958)
Taylor spent the second half of her career using her celebrity for humanitarian efforts. Before AIDS was widely acknowledged, she was at the forefront of HIV/AIDS activism, and eventually raised $270 million for the cause that she described as “her life.” Fittingly for a dual citizen of Britain and the United States, Elizabeth Taylor was royalty in all the right ways: charming, beautiful, generous, and talented.
Please join us at the Dryden Theatre as we pay homage to one of Hollywood’s finest stars. The series begins Thursday with National Velvet. The roster also features A Place in the Sun, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Raintree County, Giant, Little Women, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Thursday, Nov. 3, 8 p.m.
(Clarence Brown, US 1945, 125 min.)
Thursday, Nov. 17, 8 p.m.
A Place in the Sun
(George Stevens, US 1951, 122 min.)
Thursday, Dec. 1, 8 p.m.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
(Richard Brooks, US 1958, 108 min., 16mm)
Thursday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m.
(Edward Dmytryk, US 1957, 187 min., w/ intermission)
Thursday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m.
(George Stevens, US 1956, 197 min.)
Thursday, Dec. 22, 8 p.m.
(Mervyn LeRoy, US 1949, 121 min.)
Thursday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m.
Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
(Mike Nichols, US 1966, 131 min.)
Lori Donnelly is the George Eastman House Dryden Theatre film programmer.