The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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A two-part film, actually two concurrent stories, that reveals the dissolution of an 18-year marriage from two points of view. The stories are set in Rome, where the wealthy Martin and Jane Reynolds meet by chance after a two-year separation. In the first of the two stories, Martin has returned to Rome on business, representing an African managerial firm. Martin remembers his marriage as a rather sado-masochistic union. Part two examines the marriage from Jane's point of view, focusing more on the family life, on how the children have been scarred by the crumbling marriage. Written by
"Divorce/His...etc, is for hardcore Elizabeth Taylor fans (as are most of her vehicles, post 1967) Here you find her in all her latter-day glory--over-the-top and inappropriate in every way. The script, if you can call it that, tells the tale of a longtime married couple (wealthy, of course) whose marriage is coming apart. It's a tale told from two perspectives, tho both are equally silly and poorly written. You can just skip Burton, he's a burnt out zombie here. (Liz n' Dick would separate for the first time shortly after this thing hit the airwaves. Burton looks more than ready!) But our girl Liz gives it her all. She approaches every melodramatic moment, every abysmal line of dialogue as if her life or an Oscar depended on it. Quibble if you will if she is a good actress--she is certainly not a lazy one! She enlivens the material with her baroque presence--the wigs, the jewels, the gowns. The wigs! And of course a drinking game could be made out of her fluctuating weight. In one sequence she visits her horrible children's rooms to scold them. She loses ten pounds between the son and the daughter.
Taylor looks good, stll quite the beauty. Her real problem is her proportions. Very short, very short-waisted and that enormous bosom. Dressing her must have been a challenge even at her slimmest. Here, Edith Head does some excellent work, but Taylor sneaks in a few monstrosites from her own closet--the mini dress/tent she wears in a flashback sequence, in Africa! (She's sporting a fantastically distracting bullet bra, and a gigantic pendant hanging between the famed bazooms. When she sits down, the dress hikes to her crotch. Anybody can act, Miss Taylor puts on a show.) So, it's like that. Taylor's wacky, sometimes stuttering-placing- emphasis- on- the- wrong- word line-readings are also worth a peek.The high point is Liz and Carrie Nye. Nye, who looks like a transgendered corpse, thank you very much, reveals to poor Liz that she (Nye) has had an affair with Burton. Liz, rather tanky in her blue silk penoir get-up, pushes Nye away (how Nye didn't land in the next country is a miracle) "Stop talking, stop telling! He must have been drunk. How could anyone have an affair with you, you're not even beautiful!" This truthful statement seems beside the point, but Miss T. couldn't have given this (and other whoppers) more gusto had it been scripted by Edward Albee.
So, you have been warned. If you like this sort of thing, try to get a copy of "X, Y and Zee" which is much better and when "Zee" is funny, it is meant to be. Liz--we love, ya, honey.
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