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Rating History

Boom!
Boom! (1968)
5 years ago via Flixster
½

"Boom" is a blast! This is one of the most fun of the Burton, Taylor films. "Boom" is also a gassy misfire that draws one into the veiled world of aging homosexual desire disguised as a heterosexual struggle between an aging, dying woman and the unattainable youth in the Angel of Death.
This is story wearing a beard. Taylor's role is really that of an aging rich gay man who is trying to hang on to youth and the beauties that great beauty attract. After all, her name is Sissy. Burton's role is that of the hustler who is all that is left for the old queen to attract. But as with so many Williams works it all must be encrypted and coded so that the America of the late 1950's and early 1960's could handle his true intentions, the soft underbelly of his plays.
Burton is too old for the role that was written for a man in his twenties and Taylor is too young and too healthy looking to be the dying Sissy. But despite that, the story of a struggle of great wealth against the inevitable grows from loopy strangeness to a compelling and moving ending. Here Taylor gives one of her oddly finest post Virginia Woolf studies in a dramatic/comic performance. There is in fact so much subversive humor in her performance that she is at times hilarious. Her vocal range dances from the shrill to the silly to the grand dame and all to serve her imperious and ultimately terrified Sissy Goforth. In the last desperate half hour of the film she does some of her finest work. Burton is rather cool and distant at first but builds his Angelo De Morte into a truly fine character study. In particular, listen to his fine delivery of the speech about the old man in the sea.
Particular note should be made of the cinematography, which is gorgeous, and the stunning sun washed bone toned opulent glamour of the sets. I understand that the Burtons owned the house in Sardinia for a while after the film was completed. The spare and haunting score by John Barry is an added delight to his impressive repertoire. And for you jewelry fans there is plenty of Miss Taylor's own jewelry on hand. So get out your copy of "My Love Affair With Jewelry" by Elizabeth and thumb along as she parades her diamonds in the Mediterranean sun.

Campy? Yes! Great? Maybe we will know about that in another 40 years. Is it worth your time? Only if you like a challenge and are willing to let the Burtons take you into the world of Tennessee Williams camp classic.

Cleopatra
Cleopatra (1963)
7 years ago via Flixster

Please not that this is my original review that I posted on Amazon entitled. AN AMAZING FEAT, April 7, 2001. I found that a member here by the name of stopitgoaway has posted my review as her own.
Michael C. Smith November 10, 2009

That a film as good as CLEOPATRA is was created at all under the madness and panic of it's legendary production is indeed an amazing feat. That CLEOPATRA has been given such loving care in it's restoration in this DVD of the "Road show" print and the attendant bonus materials is a wondrous gift to those who love this film.
The documentary, "Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood" is in on it's own an engrossing and informative two hour movie. For anyone who knows little of the history of CLEOPATRA, or who was not around at the time, this documentary will give them the feeling of what those last days of old Hollywood were like. And therein one can find the reasons why this intimate epic is indeed the wonder that it is. Much thanks must be given to the Mankiewicz family and the producers of the documentary.
The print and the sound of CLEOPATRA seems now to surpass what I recall it to be in its first presentation nearly forty years ago. The depth of the colors and the richness of the shadows are indeed splendid. In it's present form it is hard to believe this film is as old as it is. The commentary track is like finding the lost treasures of the long dead monarch. For there are wonderful recollections by Martin Landau, Tom and Chris Mankiewicz, and even Jack Brodsky gets to read sections from his book "The Cleopatra Papers". But I must give special mention to Landau's part. With his keen eye for the art direction of John DeCur one sees things in the background and along the edges of the scene that one never noticed before. Such lovingly detailed sets and interiors will never be seen again. The costs today are just too prohibitive. Also his insights into what was cut from the film, particularly his and Richard Burton's contributions in the second act give one the idea of what Mankiewicz was intending. Poor Richard suffered the unkindest cut of all. The presentation of the DVD menus are so clever and exotic and are to be commended in their art direction. At last we now know what is behind the massive 20th Century Fox logo!
The film itself remains what it has always been, a good film that might have been great if only Zanuck had but trusted Joe Mankiewicz' original vision. In the documentary it is stated that Fox is looking for the missing film, one can only hope that they succeed.
The performances range from excellent to good. Particular praise must go to Rex Harrison, Richard Burton, Martin Landau, Robert Stephens, Andrew Keir, and Roddy McDowall. Lastly in this department there remains Elizabeth Taylor's performance as Cleopatra. At the films release she got the brickbats and for reasons that had nothing to do with her performance. It is always hard to separate the history of the lady from her film roles. But here in this film is where she became the ELIZABETH TAYLOR she has remained in the mind of the world to this day. In this fact alone she is perfect in the role. She is at once regal and commanding, strong and tender, soft and hard. The contradictions that have always been at the heart of Cleopatra herself, the public enigma wrapped within a mystery. In her performance as written by Mankiewicz she is probably not too far off from the historical Cleopatra.
Ever since Judith Crist gave CLEOPATRA the needle in 1963 and in the act made her name, the public, for the most part, has viewed this film a failure. But today, stripped of the scandal, hype and hysteria of its release in June of '63 it is now possible to view CLEOPARTA as the wonderful film that it is. Historically this is an important DVD and I recommend it highly. CLEOPATRA remains as seductive, beautiful, and intelligent as it was in Walter Wanger's original conception.