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Burton and Taylor

24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Academy Award nominee Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech, The Lone Ranger) and Golden Globe nominee Dominic West (300, The Wire) star as Hollywood’s most famous volatile on-again-off-again lovers in this new 90-minute drama from BBC AMERICA. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had one of the most fascinating, glamorous and tempestuous relationships of the 20th century – the two most famous movie stars of their day who played out every high and low of their love affairs, multiple marriages and divorces right in the public eye. Burton and Taylor follows their private and public relationship played out against their ill-fated appearance in a 1983 revival of Noel Coward‘s stage play, Private Lives. Tempestuous, funny, and dripping with diamonds – this is the last battle of the Burtons.

Product Details

  • Actors: Helena Bonham Carter, Dominic West, Greg Hicks, Lenora Crichlow, Lucille Sharp
  • Directors: Richard Laxton
  • Writers: William Ivory
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00DC5JVE6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,583 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 17, 2013
Format: DVD
The DVD of this BBC film for television is yet to be released in the US so the first introduction to what is actually a very fine film was presented to the American audience in piece meal fashion on the BBC network: 7 minutes of story then 4 minutes of commercials then 7 more minutes of story, etc - for 2 hours. It grows wearisome to see two character studies so well sculpted cut up into a puzzle by commercialism's greed. The uninterrupted DVD should correct that flaw and will likely be a stunning experience. Richard Laxton directs a screenplay by William Ivory (no, not THAT Ivory family...), but the kudos for the success of this film go to Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West who manage to reincarnate Li and Dick with consummate skill.

Elizabeth Taylor (Helena Bonham Carter) invites her ex-husband - twice married, twice divorced in one of the last century's most tempestuous and media focused couplings - Richard Burton (Dominic West) to her fiftieth birthday party where, as a recovering alcoholic, he refuses to get drunk with her. She obviously still retains her obsession and passion for him and suggests that they star in a stage revival of Noël Coward's play Private Lives that Liz is to produce. The agreement and announcement causes gossip with the press who speculate a possible 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 rehearsals: Taylor has not even read the play before day 1 of the rehearsals. The play opens to a critical trashing but is extremely popular with audiences because they want to see Liz Taylor and, when she is ill, numbers dwindle and the show is put on hold.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Deborah A. Cardile on March 3, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of Helena, so when I heard about this, I was super excited. I watched it when it first aired on bbc, and u fell in love with this couple. Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter put on an amazing and very convincing performance of one of Hollywood's most talked about couples. If you want to see a movie about Burton and Taylor, this is for you! And if you're a fan of Helena, this is also for you! And if you're looking for a good movie to watch, this is also for you! ;P
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael B. Druxman on February 5, 2014
Format: DVD
BURTON AND TAYLOR surprised me.

Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting this TV movie from BBC Home Entertainment to be very good, since few films about show business figures are, but this one was quite moving and insightful.

The film is set in the 1980s, after legendary stars Elizabeth Taylor (Helena Bonham Carter) and Richard Burton (Dominic West) have divorced each other for the second time. Both are alcoholics, though Burton is sincerely attempting to stay “on the wagon”.

Elizabeth decides to co-produce a limited run (10 weeks) production of Noel Coward’s classic comedy, PRIVATE LIVES, on Broadway to co-star her and Richard. He agrees, in part, because the run will result in a terrific payday and, since he continues to live like “royalty,” he can probably use the money. Also, though both he and Elizabeth are currently romantically involved with others, they still have a strong, albeit unhealthy, attraction toward each other.

Working together in the theatre is a near disaster for the duo. Richard, the consummate professional, is appalled by his former wife’s lack of professionalism. Indeed, she had never even read PRIVATE LIVES prior to the first rehearsal. Sparks do fly, as Elizabeth tries to woo Richard back into her private life.

Though they really look nothing like the icons they are portraying both actors brilliantly capture the essence of the two stars, delivering impeccable performances. The screenplay by William Ivory and Richard Laxton’s direction are first-rate.

The DVD from BBC Home Entertainment contains two “behind the scenes” featurettes.

© Michael B. Druxman
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By nick on August 4, 2014
Format: DVD
I came to this telemovie with some high expectations. I had read some very positive reviews and it seemed like it was a good cast. But, after watching most of it I felt cheated, because it was not at all what was described.

It is set in 1983, when Burton and Taylor come together to play in a reviival of Coward's "Private Lives" on Broadway. It is not a bad idea to use the concept of a previously divorced couple in real life coming together to play a previously divorced couple on stage, who find they are still in love with each other.

But, there is a lot to do between the idea and the execution.

For a start, as good an actor as he is Dominic West is not Rchard Burton. He does not have Burton's rich and complex Welsh voice, which by this time in Burton's life had been hugely affected by cigarettes and booze, just a year or so before he died in his mid fifties. Yet, this Burton, as played by West is an Oxbridge educated proclaiming like Olivier, with some fondness for smokes, but largely abstemious.

So as to contrast with the hard drinking and pill popping Elizabeth. Bonham Carter does this role well. Taylor is portrayed as a kind of monster, who contrives the whole enterprise to get Richard back.

Having set up this premise and the useful conceit of the play within the play, the writer and director seem to have found nowhere else to go but into a series of increasingly melodramatic and soap operaish vignettes of bickering between Taylor and Burton. This was supposed to have been one of the great love stories of the 20th century, but as a viewer we get no insight into why these bitter and disenchanted peole found love with each other. As the movie progressed these scenes, for me, became increasingly tiresome, to the point that I turned the movie off in the last 15 minutes.

Perhaps I missed a big reveal. I think not.
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