Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


ELIZABETH. J Randy Taraborrelli. Warner Books. 2006.

A straight-forward, sympathetic look at the life of Elizabeth Taylor, detailing her relationships with the mother who pushed her toward stardom, her several husbands, her friends (from Montgomery Clift to Michael Jackson) , and looking into her life as an AIDS activist literally knocking on Hollywood's doors until celebrities agreed to attend fundraisers for research into the disease. What emerges is a credible, readable portrait of a complex individual who's probably led enough life for ten people. Taraborrelli doesn't gloss over Taylor's many flaws and excesses, but rather does his best to explain them. (Some may feel he goes overboard in this regard). It would not be fair to call the book superficial, but there are times when a bit more delving might have been called for, such as during discussion of Taylor's manic relationship with Richard Burton, and the possible reasons why Burton nearly drank himself to death, among other things. Dismissing many of Taylor's films as forgettable, including Rhapsody (in which Taylor actually gave one of her best performances) Taraborrelli simply ignores them; you get the impression he simply hasn't seen a lot of his subject's pictures. Still, flaws aside, this is a good read packed with solid information.

Verdict: Probably more about Liz than anyone wanted to know. ***.

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