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The Driver's Seat (1974)

Identikit (original title)
R | | Drama | 10 October 1975 (USA)
Mentally disturbed spinster Lise (Dame Elizabeth Taylor) experiences a series of bizarre encounters in Rome as she searches for someone to murder her.

Writers:

Raffaele La Capria (screenplay), Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Elizabeth Taylor ... Lise
Ian Bannen ... Bill
Guido Mannari Guido Mannari ... Carlo
Mona Washbourne ... Mrs. Helen Fiedke
Luigi Squarzina Luigi Squarzina ... Lead Detective
Maxence Mailfort Maxence Mailfort ... Pierre
Andy Warhol ... English Lord
Anita Bartolucci Anita Bartolucci ... Saleswoman
Gino Giuseppe Gino Giuseppe ... Police Commissioner (as Gino Giuseppe C.S.C.)
Marino Masé ... Traffic Policeman
Bedy Moratti Bedy Moratti ... Dress Shop Owner
Dino Mele ... Police Captain
Alessandro Perrella Alessandro Perrella ... Detective (as Alessandro Perrella C.S.C.)
Quinto Parmeggiani Quinto Parmeggiani ... Hotel Waiter
Nadia Scarpitta Nadia Scarpitta ... Elderly Lady at airport (as Nadia Scarpitta Pernice)
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Storyline

Lise (Dame Elizabeth Taylor), a mentally unbalanced middle-aged woman travels toward a fatal destiny that she had helped to arrange, as if her own extinction will bring a meaningful existence to its wished-for end - a premeditated search for someone, anyone, with whom she could form a dangerous liaison. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Was she really mad enough to plot her own murder?

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Luchino Visconti had wanted to film this in 1970 with Glenda Jackson in the lead. See more »

Quotes

Bill: I'm staying at the Metropole. I'll book you a room there next to mine. The company will pay for it because I have to have an orgasm a day on my macrobiotic diet, you see?
Lise: I am an idealist.
Bill: Oh, I only meant that... er... if we get acquainted, I think somehow that I'm your type, you know?
Lise: Do you think so?
[he nods]
Lise: Well you're mistaken. When I diet, I diet. And when I orgasm, I orgasm. I don't believe in mixing the two cultures.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rate It X (1986) See more »

User Reviews

Liz's Last Great Role
17 December 2003 | by dwingroveSee all my reviews

I confess to being rather bemused by the Muriel Spark novel this was based on, but the Giuseppe Patroni Griffi film is seductive indeed. It offers the last significant role for that most iconic screen presence, Elizabeth Taylor. As in her two late 60s films for Joseph Losey, Taylor in The Driver's Seat is both the apotheosis and the wreck of the grand Hollywood diva she once was. She plays - like Katharine Hepburn in Summertime or Vivien Leigh in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone - a neurotic middle-aged woman adrift in Italy. Only her goal here is not Sex but Death. She comes in search of a man who will ritually tie her up, stab and kill her.

Cruel fun has been poked at the (admittedly) hideous wardrobe Taylor sports throughout this film. Proof, if any were needed, that film critics on the whole do not read books. Every detail of these garish clothes has been copied faithfully from the novel. Her vile dress sense is meant as an outward sign of Taylor's disintegrating psyche, and her desperate need to stand out form the drab and over-regimented world that she (like most of the film's viewers) is forced to inhabit.

The same is true of the often absurd dialogue. "When I diet, I diet - and when I orgasm, I orgasm!" That's how Taylor fends off an amorous businessman (Ian Bannen) who tries both to lure her into bed and to convert her to a macrobiotic diet. If you watch The Driver's Seat with your eyes open, it becomes clear that the whole film takes place inside a mind that has lost all reason. Realism was never the aim here, so it's poor logic to gripe when Realism is not the result.

Every shot, in fact, is stylised to the level of a dream. The opening - where Taylor prowls through a gallery of naked store mannequins. Her shopping trip with an elderly widow (Mona Washbourne) - which winds through a quasi-surreal labyrinth of mirrors and white walls. The final deadly 'climax' - in a phantom Villa Borghese, conjured out of mist and moonlight. The camerawork by Vittorio Storaro seems to drain all colour out of the landscape, until Taylor and her iridescent shawls are the last remaining sign of life.

It was all too much for critics and public back in 1974. Nowadays, the extreme alienation that oozes from every frame - and a socio-political background of blank-faced consumerism, terrorist attacks and rabid police and airport security - may well strike more of a cord. It's no accident that Andy Warhol turns up as a corrupt diplomat. The Driver's Seat is truly a film for the modern age.


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Details

Country:

Italy | West Germany

Language:

Italian | English

Release Date:

10 October 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Driver's Seat See more »

Filming Locations:

Munich, Bavaria, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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