Look—we can’t help it, okay?

We’re the B-Masters. That’s just who we are. We yiz who we yiz and that’s all that we yiz. And that’s why, when we set out to do a tribute, it sometimes ends up looking like…something else.

Take this month’s Roundtable, for example. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to do an appropriate tribute to Elizabeth Taylor, now, would you? We didn’t think so either. Until we started dibsing films.

National Velvet? Nuh-uh. Father Of The Bride? Not exactly. A Place In The Sun? ‘Fraid not. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof? Well, I’m pretty sure Tennessee Williams is in there somewhere…

Well, look on the bright side. We always wanted this blog to be educational.

So join us as we investigate THE OTHER ELIZABETH TAYLOR – all through August at the B-Masters’ Blog.

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1000 Misspent Hours and Counting Secret Ceremony I can’t believe I’m saying this about a Universal Studios picture from the late 1960’s starring Elizabeth Taylor (for that matter, I can barely believe I’m reviewing an Elizabeth Taylor movie in the first place), but Secret Ceremony is easily the weirdest thing I’ve seen in ages. It is toweringly strange, monumentally strange; its strangeness first becomes visible as if looming up over the horizon during the uncomfortably abrupt and ineffably archaic main titles, and commands more and more attention with each passing minute.
And You Call Yourself A Scientist! The Blue Bird (1976) This may come as a disappointment to some, but the failure of this film really cannot be laid at the feet of its cast; its casting, yes, but not its cast, who did what they could with impossible material – and in, from all accounts, impossible conditions. The stunt-casting is distracting, granted, but in a film that has as little genuine entertainment value as The Blue Bird the presence of this raft of guest stars adds some much-needed pizazz. It certainly wouldn’t be a better film for not having Liz Taylor appearing in four roles.
Braineater Night Watch (1973) Well, personally, I have to agree with the New York Times: by comparison to some of the pretentious, overblown A-pictures she’d made over the previous few years, Night Watch is a huge relief. I know there are contrarians who will insist that Boom!, Zee & Co. or (Cthulhu help us) Hammersmith Is Out are works of misunderstood genius, but for my part I’d much rather see Taylor in this solid, workmanlike thriller than in any of the other films she made around the same time…
Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension Boom! You hear the phrase “a fearless performance” a lot. Too much, surely. This here, though, is a fearless performance. Taylor really throws herself into the scene, holding nothing back; certainly not dignity. Sadly, Williams leaves her out to dry. The monologue is HORRIBLE. There’s a reason people aren’t often fearless, and it’s because being that way can get you killed. And Taylor dies a truly gruesome death before our eyes, expiring slowly over the course of nearly five straight minutes, which is a boatload of screen time. I vastly admire her courage and dedication, but the cause was not worthy of her.
The Unknown Movies Ash Wednesday Elizabeth Taylor was forty-one years old when she made Ash Wednesday, an age when actresses in Hollywood start to find it difficult to be cast in major Hollywood studio movies. So no doubt Taylor was starting to feel the pressure of appearing at her very best, both in looks and with her acting ability. One might wonder before watching this movie if Taylor was able to perform at her best with these pressures, as well as wonder if Taylor was able to appear as the beautiful woman the other characters in the movie feel her character is. After watching the movie, I can tell you with full confidence that whatever faults the movie might have, none of them have to do with Taylor.


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