Article 1998 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-3-2006
Posting Date: 1-31-2007
Directed by Joseph Losey
Featuring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Noel Coward
A dying female tycoon who lives on a mountain on an island treats her staff and the residents of the island dictatorially. She is visited by a poet who is known as the Angel of Death because every woman he is associated with dies.
It stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is directed by Joseph Losey, and has a script from Tennessee Williams. How bad can it be? Well, there may be something here for the persistent searcher who doesn’t mind that the movie isn’t going to help him much. Me, I think it’s an exercise in self-indulgence in which only a select few emerge with their dignity intact. Burton comes off best, and Joanna Shimkus and Michael Dunn do all right in their respective roles. The worst excesses come from the script itself; I love some of Williams’ plays, but this one utterly fails to click. The costume designer also is a major problem, especially that freaky Kabuki hat Taylor wears during a dinner scene; it’s so distracting, it’s a nearly impossible job to pay attention to anything else. Noel Coward is saddled with a role that requires him to resort to bird calls all the time, and Taylor – well, let’s just say if you want to see a movie where Elizabeth Taylor spends practically every moment being bitchy, screaming, cussing or having coughing fits, this one is for you. I love checking the user ratings on IMDB for users like this; with most movies you end up with a consensus of some sort, but with this one, the ratings are scattered all over the place, with the extremes getting the most votes and about even on those. At heart, it’s one of those movie that either clicks with you or it doesn’t, and for me, this one didn’t. I suspect that the “Angel of Death” plot point is the fantastic content.