Mike Nichols directs Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and George Segal in this adaptation of Edward Albee’s famous play about a warring middle-aged couple who play mind games with each other and their houseguests.
I’ve seen this on the stage and now I’ve seen the lauded film. The performances are uniformly grand if a little bold and embossed. Sandy Dennis is probably the best of the four and least well known. The attempts to open up the theatre production are clunky though. And, somewhat pointedly, this shrieking, raging, overwraught constant isn’t pleasurable to watch four people maintain for two hours. The production history is more fun than the end result. According to IMDB… While Richard Burton and Dame Elizabeth Taylor were forces to be reckoned with while they were working, it was a challenge to actually get them in front of the camera every day. They both had it in their contracts that they didn’t have to be on the set until 10:00 a.m., even though most other productions began at dawn. After they arrived on set, it would take two hours of make-up, hair and wardrobe to get them ready for shooting and by the time they were camera ready, it was lunch time. They would often go off for lengthy cocktail-filled lunches, often with friends, and then return late in the afternoon to finally begin shooting. “When they finally came back late”, recalled editor Sam O’Steen, “they’d just ignore it all, be real nice. ‘Hey, Mike, old buddy, sorry we’re late. Okay, let’s shoot!’ Sometimes they wouldn’t come back until five o’clock and they had in their contract that they couldn’t work past six o’clock.”
Perfect Double Bill: Cleopatra (1963)
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