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Butterfield 8 [VHS]

4.2 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey, Eddie Fisher, Dina Merrill, Mildred Dunnock
  • Directors: Daniel Mann
  • Writers: Charles Schnee, John Michael Hayes, John O'Hara
  • Producers: Kathryn Hereford, Pandro S. Berman
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: December 5, 1990
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301967690
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,083 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Taylor's an eyeful as a sophisticated call girl wanting to go straight. The screen adaptation of O'Hara's novel grafts on a stock Hollywood ending, but the film is all Taylors's tour de force anyway.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael C. Smith VINE VOICE on August 25, 2003
Format: DVD
`The most desirable girl in town is the easiest to find. Just call Butterfield-8!' So trumpeted the posters of this, Elizabeth Taylor's first Oscar winning performance. The film is a modernization of the 1935 novel by John O'Hara, which was based on the real life of the 1920's New York City call girl Starr Faithful.

Miss Taylor was dead set against playing Gloria Wandrous. She felt was a deliberate play by M.G.M. to capitalize on her recent notoriety in the Liz-Eddie-Debbie scandal. Also, she was anxious to move on to her first ever million-dollar role in Fox's Cleopatra. She was told by M.G.M that if she did not fulfill her contractual obligation to her home studio for one final film on her eighteen year contract that she would be kept off the screen for two years and miss making Cleopatra all together. She swore to the producer Pandro S. Berman that she would not learn her lines, not be prepared and in fact not give anything more and a walk through. Mr. Berman knew her better than she suspected. In the end Elizabeth Taylor turned in a professional, classic old style Hollywood performance that ranks at the top with the best of her work. She brings a savage rage to live to her searing portrait of a lost girl soaked through with sex and gin. A woman hoping against all hope to find salvation in yet one last man. Weston Leggett, a man who is worse off than she is in the self-esteem department. In her frantic quest for a clean new life Gloria finds that the male establishment will not allow her to step out of her role as a high priced party girl. She is pigeon holed by her past and the narrow mores of the late 50's are not about to let her fly free. Not the bar-buzzards of Wall Street, not her best friend Steve who abandons her at his girlfriend's insistence. Not even her shrink Dr.
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Format: VHS Tape
In the normal scheme of things, lofty MGM wouldn't have touched John O'Hara's novel with a ten foot pole--but shortly before her contract was to end, MGM star Elizabeth Taylor besmirched her image by running off with Debbie Reynolds' husband Eddie Fisher. With her reputation in shreds and one foot outside the studio gate any way, MGM decided to capitalize on the bad press by casting Taylor as BUTTERFIELD 8's bad-girl-from-hell... and then, to add insult to injury, tucked Eddie Fisher into a supporting role and cast Debbie Reynolds look-alike Susan Oliver in the role of Eddie's girl friend, who feels threatened by Liz's manhungry ways. Liz fought the project tooth and nail, but MGM was adamant: she owed them another film, and she wasn't leaving until she made it.

BUTTERFIELD 8 is the story of Gloria Wandrous (Taylor), a hard-drinking, sexed-up, bed-hopping dress model who gets her kicks by seducing and then dumping men according to whim--until she encounters an unhappily married man just as hard and disillusioned as she in Weston Liggett (Laurence Harvey.) Although the production code was still somewhat in force, it had loosened up quite a bit since the days of NATIONAL VELVET, and while scenes stop short at the bedroom door they have plenty of sizzle while they walk up to it; moreover, every one in the film talks about sex so much you'd think it had just been invented. Taylor is on record saying that she considers the film a piece of trash, and she swears she has never actually seen it, that she would rather die than ever see it.

But something weird happened as the camera rolled.
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Format: VHS Tape
"Butterfield 8," directed by Daniel Mann, is basically a trashy soap opera. Elizabeth Taylor plays Gloria, a booze-guzzling, ... promiscuous young woman who becomes involved with an unhappily married businessman (Laurence Harvey). The opening scenes well establish the film's vibe: the story is saturated with cigarettes, alcohol, money, expensive fur, sex, and fury.
That said, I found B8 to be a wonderfully entertaining and surprisingly moving film. The delicious dialogue is full of memorable lines (like the one I used for the title of this review). The characters zap each other with some biting insults. A typical exchange between two characters: "Oh mother, don't be vulgar." Response: "Vulgarity has its uses."
The entire cast is solid, but this is undeniably Taylor's film. She takes what could have been a campy caricature and instead gives Gloria real depth and humanity. By the end of the film I was really engrossed in Gloria's personal journey. B8 may not be a great Hollywood classic, but it's a great showcase for the legendary Taylor.
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Format: DVD
"She's catnip to every cat in town," a bartender says of Gloria Wandrous, call girl and Party Girl #1, who is boozing it up, surrounded by a dozen men. Waking up in Wes Liggett's Fifth Avenue penthouse, she discovers he's left her a wad of money and a note saying, "Is $250 enough?" She hurls the money away, scrawling "No Sale" on the mirror with her lipstick. But she seems to forget that she is a call girl, and call girls accept money for services rendered. Unfortunately, Gloria is in love with Liggett, her "john", but he is married to someone else - a society matron poorly played by the cold, patrician beauty, Dina Merrill. As Gloria is leaving, she steals Ligget's wife's $7000 fur coat and starts all kinds of trouble. It certainly would have caused trouble today - the entire film is a PETA nightmare, as Gloria can be clocked wearing suede, lynx, coyote, mink, sable, beaver, and something that looks like skunk. The whole movie has Liz in her last fading bloom of youth, girded-to-the-gills and at the peak of her "eyebrows-of-death" period. Her Gloria-ously voluptuous figure is beginning to bulge and sag, but she is decked out to the nines in drop-dead stylish early-60s glamour. At the time, Liz and Jackie Kennedy were neck-and-neck in the glamour department, and the Jackie look is unmistakably present in Liz's styling. Though Jackie's never would be, Liz's cleavage is on abundant display. Cleavage was such a powerful metaphor for sex, then - a set-piece whose effectiveness would be impossible now (you practically have to show actors rutting on the floor to satisfy the modern taste). Liz was also at the peak of her Eddie Fisher period - playing a harlot on screen after stealing Fisher away from his real-life wife, Debbie Reynolds, only added to Liz's plummeting reputation.Read more ›
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