The gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor was known for many things – her brows, her attention-catching violet eyes, and of course, her charming acting. Starting at the tender age of 12, Taylor became Hollywood’s brightest star in no time at all, best Elizabeth Taylor performances that we’re looking back on in 2020.
1. Cleopatra, 1963
Who could forget the piercing, cat-eyed beauty of Elizabeth Taylor. sHe broke literal records with this role, becoming the highest paid actress thanks to a million dollar contract. She also met Richard Burton on the set of this flick where they had their passionate affair. The movie itself is pretty dramatic, clocking in at just over 4 hours long.
2. Butterfield 8, 1960
Taylor was serving complete curvaceous body in this film – it was hard to take our eyes off her. With co-star Eddie Fisher, Taylor plays a prostitute who takes the male protagonist away from his beloved wife. Honestly, even if she was just a random girl walking by, she could probably still steal his girl. Although she slayed the role, apparently Elizabeth hated the movie, even though she was so good at playing the tragic character.
3. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958
This Tennessee Williams play adaptation won a Pulitzer Prize, and Elizabeth Taylor definitely did it justice. The plot is about a wealthy family breaking down from the inside, and Taylor played a seductive and love-scored woman (doesn’t she always?) who can’t earn the affection of her alcoholic, ex-football player of a husband.
4. Raintree County, 1957
Staring Elizabeth at her peak, “RainTree County” got her an Oscar nomination – her first, in fact. Compared to many with “Gone With The Wind,” critics harshly judged this film for being long and boring, but we’ll never forget the tragic story surrounding a car crash that happened during filming. Clift nearly died, and Taylor saved her movie husband’s life by reaching into his throat and scooping his teeth out so he wouldn’t choke.
5. National Velvet, 1944
Taylor took on this film when she was quite young (just 12 years old) , and it’s one of the only roles where she doesn’t play a sultry vixen. Instead, it’s a wholesome family flick about a rural English girl training a wild stallion to train for the Grand National Horse Race. Female characters weren’t the norm in the jockey world (especially in the 1049s) so this was quite an inspiring role for a range of reasons.
6. Father of the Bride, 1950
Based on the book by Edward Streeter, this flick from the beginning of the 1950s features Liz as a bride-to-be, whose dad just keeps getting into comedic obstacles regarding the upcoming nuptials. The hilarious Vincente Minnelli movie explores the financial and personal problems that marriage can bring up, and the frequency of crises is simultaneously funny and relatable.
7. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, 1966
Taylor’s acting chops and “real” factor in this cinematic masterpiece were very memorable, and this is the role that she got the most accolades for. It’s one of the only roles where she doesn’t use her skills of seduction, and instead, looks a bit frumpy in it. In a disastrous dinner double date, Taylor’s character and her husband verbally spar in front of their guests until the tension can’t rise any higher.
8. Suddenly, Last Summer, 1959
This would make Taylors 3rd Best Actress nomination in a row, and since it’s a melodrama, it was clear form the start that she would shine bright in a role practically made for her. Forbidden desire and repression are themes in the film, which is surprising given its time, but Taylor was always a sex symbol of her time. Her controlling aunt (played by the masterful Katherine Hepburn) tries to get her lobotomized to hide a huge secret. Want to know more? We can’t do it justice through explanation – you have to watch it.
9. Reflections In A Golden Eye, 1967
Themes of repression also arise in this 1967 classic, which is an adaptation of the novel by Carson McCullers. Most would describe this film as “bizarre,” and many think it was a direct result of the loosened censorship guidelines in the era of New Hollywood. Our favorite vintage Hollywood Hottie Marlon Brando starred in it, playing an army major in the closet who falls for a youthful private over his intense wife. The themes were daring to say the least, especially since this flick came from 1967.
10. The VIPS, 1963
We’re obsessed with anything that Elizabeth Taylor did with her on again off again love Richard Burton, but this flick eared Margaret Rutherford an Oscar for Supporting Actress. It’s an airport drama set in a VIP lounge, where travellers with delayed flights each face their own kind of crisis.