A boozy Liz Taylor played brilliantly by Helena Bonham Carter is reunited in 1983 with ex-husband Richard Burton (Dominic West) for the Noel Coward Broadway play “Private LIves” in the BBC TV movie “Burton and Taylor” shown Wednesday. This is another installment in the saga of women who who lived large like Peggy Hopkins Joyce and Donattelle Versace.
Fans of “Virginia Wolfe” will recognize a Martha and George dynamic in B & T with Burton attempting a serious reading of “Private Lives” and the tipsy Liz clowning and mugging for an appreciative audience. The play, an ill-advised train wreck and curious sideshow, was panned by the New York critics. Yet theater arts professor Bill from Iowa probably enjoyed it when he saw it with Liz and Dick on Broadway. Working at cross purposes, the venture is doomed from the get go with Taylor hoping to rekindle romance with the British actor and Burton trying to reestablish his theatrical credentials.
In a remarkable scene, Taylor makes a grand entrance following a gaggle of dogs on leashes, reminiscent of Mrs. Joyce in “International House.” Bonham Carter is so much Liz with the walk and talk that we forget that it is an act.
Unfortunately the version shown on cable last night was interrupted every 10 minutes with commercials and naughty words were bleeped out. This is another reason to kiss Comcast goodbye. Hopefully an unedited DVD will be available in the near future.