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Burton and Taylor (2013)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama | TV Movie 16 October 2013
Legendary acting duo and married couple Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor prepare for a 1983 theatrical production of the play "Private Lives".



, (extracts from the play "Private Lives") (as Noel Coward) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Zev Bufman
Jeff Mash ...
Isabella Brazier-Jones ...
Maria Burton
Liza Todd Burton
Milton Katselas
Kathryn Walker
John Cullum
Jessica Jones ...
ASM (as Jess Doherty)
Reporter (as Martin T Sherman)
Cassie Raine ...
Sally Burton


Film star Elizabeth Taylor invites her ex-husband - twice over - Richard Burton to her fiftieth birthday party where, as a recovering alcoholic, he refuses to get drunk with her. He does however consider her suggestion that they star in a stage revival of the play 'Private Lives'. As they announce the project the press speculate on a romantic reconciliation. With a new girlfriend and the prospect of playing king Lear Burton is not happy with the project, especially with Taylor's pill-popping and her lack of stage experience, which causes problems at rehearsal. The play opens to a critical trashing but is popular with audiences, chiefly, again to Burton's chagrin, because they want to see Taylor and, when she is ill, numbers dwindle and the show is put on hold. After a two month run , with a projected tour, the curtain comes down and Taylor tells Burton she has always loved him and still does. A year later however his old life-style catches up with him and he is dead. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Biography | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

16 October 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Burton e Taylor  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Robert Hardy, a veteran character actor and an old friend of Burton, described West's performance as "hopeless", saying he "wasn't tough enough, he wasn't dangerous enough, he wasn't Welsh enough". However, he appreciated Bonham-Carter's performance, saying she was "brilliant, absolutely brilliant" because she "got the spirit of her and sounded like her". See more »


Burton recalls filming "Cleopatra" with Taylor in Hollywood. Actually, the film was made in Rome. See more »


Elizabeth Taylor: Where did my Antony go? Remember? The man who would've risked everything for me - who did! He tossed it all against the rocks so he could be with me. Where did he go, Richard? Tell me where my FUCKING Antony went!
See more »


Featured in 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2014) See more »


Love to Love You Baby
Written by Pete Bellotte, Giorgio Moroder, and Donna Summer
Performed by Donna Summer
Courtesy of The Island Def Jam Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enteprises
See more »

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User Reviews

solid drama about the mythic pair
17 October 2013 | by See all my reviews

"Burton and Taylor" starts weakly because it takes a while to accept Dominic West as a dissipated 57-year-old Richard Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter as legendary glamour puss Liz Taylor. But West wins us over first of all with his deep voice and cultivated enunciations (which was what Burton was primarily known for); then secondarily his Burton-style cheek folds and greying temples provide just enough distraction from West's own robust youthfulness; finally, West projects a pervasive worldly cynicism tempered with a basic humanity. Bonham-Carter has the coloring and heat of Taylor, something of the physique (though less buxom), slightly similar facial features enhanced by careful camera angles and she effectively duplicates Taylor's weak, whiny voice. She redeems herself for her abominable performance in 2012's "Dark Shadows."

The scope of the story, with the exception of one flashback, is wisely limited to several months in 1983 when the famous twice-married, twice-divorced couple reunited to play the leads in Noel Coward's "Private Lives" on Broadway. They were both too old for their parts and Taylor was not remotely adept at stage acting but superficially at least, their own relationship resembled that of the tempestuous couple at the heart of Coward's play. And that was enough for star-struck Broadway audiences to guarantee a financially successful – if artistically disastrous - production. Highlights of this extended public embarrassment – from early rehearsals through closing night – are interspersed with peaks and valleys in the Burton-Taylor personal drama.

Burton emerges as a skilled and erudite artist waylaid by dependency on drugs (alcohol and cigarettes); Taylor as an intelligent but spoiled, pill-popping, self-absorbed star monster, the kind only Hollywood could create; the pair as mutually dependent devourers and enablers of each other—in short, a mythic representation and exaggeration of average couples in general, which indeed was part of their mass appeal.

There are so many revelatory truths scattered amidst the dross of the TV-movie-style mise- en-scene that one can only surmise that the creative personnel behind this effort actually cared about and emotionally connected with their subjects. A few examples: the startling scene backstage when Taylor in mid-conversation with Burton suddenly slugs him in the face for having spoken rudely to her staff moments earlier; the close-up on their hands clasped together and then separating during a curtain call, pointing up the unstable unity-disunity of their relationship as expressed by the failure-success of their play; the dynamic of their on- stage interactions as Taylor, thanks to her sheer star power, gets away with running roughshod over Noel Coward's verbal architecture while Burton, the trained stage veteran, struggles to anchor the proceedings with actorly skill; Burton's frequent quoting from Shakespeare to express powerful feelings, reflective of his early absorption of and inner devotion to the classics of literature which not only fueled his youthful rise to success but sustained him through subsequent decades of personal and artistic dissolution.

This is the second biopic about this pair in the last year, the previous one being the forgettable quickie starring Lindsay Lohan. "Burton and Taylor" manages to obliterate its predecessor.

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