The Leading Lady: Top 10 Elizabeth Taylor Movies

Elizabeth Taylor was an iconic actress. A true Hollywood legend. Here we check out 10 of her greatest movies including Cleopatra, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Reflections In A Golden Eye.

When it comes to the legendary names that are forever cemented in the history of Hollywood’s golden age, there are a few that come immediately to mind. You have the Hepburns, Monroe, Crawford, and Davis, and then you absolutely have Elizabeth Taylor. In terms of acting talent and stunning natural beauty, there aren’t many in cinema history who have come close to her. In a career spanning several decades, Taylor has notched up a stunning number of classic films on her resume.

A true icon of the big screen and with more than 70 film credits to her name, it is hard to pick just a handful to recommend, but when you take a deeper look, there are certainly a special few that stand out. Without further ado, here are 10 of the best Elizabeth Taylor movies.

Cleopatra (Mankiewicz, 1963)

When you think of Liz Taylor movies, you automatically think of Cleopatra. Large scale historical epics like the 1963 film were legendary for their huge budgets and star-studded cast lists, and Taylor was an absolute vision as the iconic Egyptian queen. A scandalous affair with Richard Burton, who would go onto become one of her husbands, made the film even more intriguing but the grand language and grand cinematography mean that Cleopatra will always be considered a classic of its era.

Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (Nichols, 1966)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, Mike Nichols, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton,

This 1966 drama gained Taylor her second Best Actress Oscar, a big-screen adaptation of a play about the disintegration of a marriage that folds out into a metaphor for civilisation as a whole. The film really enabled Liz to get her teeth into a dramatic, showy role, and the tension is high from start to finish.

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Brooks, 1958)

Taylor shines again in another adaptation of a play, this time in 1958’s version of Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. It’s another searing drama about a married couple in which the husband is questioning his sexuality. As the feisty wife Maggie the Cat, Taylor is at her best, her emotions bursting through the screen and grabbing the viewer’s attention effortlessly. It must have been quite a stressful time for Taylor, as filming started on the same day her then-husband, Mike Todd, was killed in a plane crash.

National Velvet (Brown, 1945)

The quintessential “young Elizabeth Taylor” movie, National Velvet dates back to 1944 where a fresh-faced beauty burst onto the big screen. She plays a character called Velvet Brown who helps to prepare a wild but talented horse for the famous Grand National race. The film is a milestone in Taylor’s career, and she was surrounded
by a great cast. This was the first time when people sat up and took notice of the young starlet.

A Place In The Sun (Stevens, 1951)

Many regard 1951’s A Place in The Sun to be Taylor’s first “grown-up role”, where all her talent and beauty was finally allowed to shine through in a mature way. It is an enticing melodrama that involves a love triangle in high society, with Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Shelley Winters being the leading trio. I don’t know about you, but that is a cast list to rival any other!

Reflections In A Golden Eye (Huston, 1968)

This is one of the oddest Elizabeth Taylor films, but I happen to think it’s one of the best among her forgotten movies. The legendary actress plays alongside Marlon Brando, taking the role of his nymphomaniac wife as he investigates some strange goings-on at a military base. By all accounts, it’s a film that shouldn’t work, but for some reason it does. An additional positive of the film is the fact that you are really able to see the unusual beauty of
Taylor’s eyes, as explained in this article.

Father Of The Bride (Minnelli, 1950)

Another young Elizabeth Taylor movie, Father of The Bride is a pleasant comedy about a family wedding that goes wrong at pretty much every corner. Taylor plays the betrothed daughter, and the legendary Spencer Tracy plays her father. It’s a great cast and a fun movie that runs along at a quick pace. The film was remade with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton in 1991.

Giant (Stevens, 1956)

Ms. Taylor struck up a great partnership with Rock Hudson for 1956’s Giant. It’s an atmospheric Western romance about a rancher who marries a Southern belle, and it is also notable for being one of the few film appearances by James Dean before his tragic premature death. The film also features Dennis Hopper in one of his early roles.

Suddenly, Last Summer (Mankiewicz, 1959)

Any 1950s film that stars both Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn is going to be a winner! An adaption of yet another Tennessee Williams play, Taylor plays Hepburn’s niece who faces being subjected to a lobotomy. It sounds like a crazy subject matter, but the film is truly engrossing.

Butterfield 8 (Mann, 1960)

This was the movie for which Taylor won her first Oscar. It is a sumptuous drama about a New York call girl who falls for a married man. Liz’s natural sex appeal and charisma fit the role perfectly, and she has great chemistry with co-star Laurence Harvey that really makes the film sizzle when it matters.

Written and Compiled by Amilia Totten

Over to you: what are your fave Elizabeth Taylor films?

Amilia Totten
About the Author
Amilia Totten is a freelance writer, photographer and erstwhile time-waster. Her eclectic film favourites include the latest Hollywood blockbuster to European avant-garde and the joys of Bollywood.
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    CineGirl Reply

    What a star!

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