Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton Film Collection (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf 2-Disc Special Edition / The Comedians / The Sandpiper / The V.I.P.s) 5 Disc Set
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Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton Film Collection (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf 2-Disc Special Edition / The Comedians / The Sandpiper / The V.I.P.s) 5 Disc Set

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Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton Film Collection (DVD)

THE V.I.P.s (1963) – Fog rolls in, grounding air traffic. Over the next fateful night, elite passengers awaiting London-to-U.S. fl ights must face problems instead of fleeing them. Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and more deliver romantic melodrama mixed with wry comedic flourishes. THE SANDPIPER (1965) – Rapturous Big Sur is the backdrop as a minister (Burton) is torn between his yearnings for a beautiful free spirit (Taylor) and his love for his wife (Eva Marie Saint). Directed by Vincente Minnelli from a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo and Michael Wilson. WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966) – Taylor and Burton are ideal as malevolent marrieds in first-time film director Mike Nichols’ searing film of Edward Albee’s groundbreaking play (written for the screen by Ernest Lehman). The movie won a total of five OscarsĀ®* and remains a taboo-toppling landmark. THE COMEDIANS (1967) – Romantic and political passions are set ablaze in Haiti during the brutal rule of Papa Doc Duvalier. Burton and Taylor lead a who’s-who cast of stars caught up in the strongman’s reign of terror in a story as disturbing and redeeming as mankind’s conflicted heart.

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The British-born Elizabeth Taylor was the quintessential Hollywood screen goddess. The Welsh-born Richard Burton was one of the most compelling British actors of his generation. Together, they were a perfect storm of talent, glamour, and offscreen scandal, which made even their lesser films essential viewing for those fascinated by cinema’s royal couple. This four-film set captures the prolific couple at the height of their 1960s heyday. The essential entry is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), which earned Taylor an Academy Award, and launched the film directing career of Mike Nichols. This adaptation of Edward Albee’s searing play was ahead of its time for its use of profanity, as chronicled in bonus featurettes on this two-disc Special Edition. Taylor and Burton star as the braying Martha, a college president’s daughter, and her husband George, an associate history professor. An ambitious teacher (George Segal) and his mousy wife (a heartbreaking Sandy Dennis) arrive for an unforgettable night of such emasculating sport as “Humiliate the Host,” “Get the Guests,” and “Hump the Hostess.” The V.I.P.s (1963) is a star-studded soap opera about a group of notables stranded at a fog-shrouded airport, each desperate to get off the ground. In addition to Orson Welles as a film director trying to stay one step ahead of the British tax man and Margaret Rutherford (who earned an Academy Award) as a financially strapped duchess, we have Taylor as the unhappy wife of magnate Burton, set to elope with a reformed (?) gigolo (Louis Jordan). The Sandpiper (1965) is one of those vaunted enjoyable “golden turkeys” that at least has the beautiful Big Sur coast and the Oscar-winning song “The Shadow of Your Smile” as consolation for the silly illicit romance between Taylor, an unconvincing bohemian artist, and Burton, the tortured Episcopalian reverend to whose school Taylor’s illegitimate son has been sent. The Comedians (1967) is hardly a laughing matter. Graham Greene adapted his novel of upheaval in Papa Doc-run Haiti. You have to jump 40 years to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to find another couple with Taylor and Burton’s wattage. This collection gives a time capsule glimpse at what all the fuss was about. –Donald Liebenson

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