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Elizabeth Taylor Collection [6 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Giant
Life With Father
The longest-running non-musical play in Broadway history, Life With Father was faithfully filmed by Warner Bros. in 1947. William Powell is a tower of comic strength as Clarence Day, the benevolent despot of his 1880s New York City household. Irene Dunne co-stars as Day's wife Vinnie, who outwardly has no more common sense than a butterfly but who is the real head of the household. The anecdotal story, encompassing such details as the eldest Day son's (James Lydon) romance with pretty out-of-towner Mary (Elizabeth Taylor), is tied together by Vinnie's tireless efforts to get her headstrong husband baptized, else he'll never be able to enter the Kingdom of God. Each scene is a little gem of comedy and pathos, as the formidable Mr. Day tries to bring a stern businesslike attitude to everyday household activities, including explaining the facts of life to his impressionable son. Donald Ogden Stewart based his screenplay upon the play by Howard Lindsey (who played Mr. Day in the original production) and Russell Crouse; the play in turn was inspired by a series of articles written by Clarence Day Jr., shortly before his death in 1933. Due to a legal tangle with the Day estate, Life With Father was withdrawn from circulation after its first run; it re-emerged on the Public Domain market in 1975. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
This dynamic and commanding adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play focuses on a troubled Southern family and the discord over their dying father's millions. Wealthy plantation owner Big Daddy Pollitt (Burl Ives), celebrating his 65th birthday, is visited by his sons, Brick (Paul Newman) and Gooper (Jack Carson). He has cancer, but a doctor has deliberately and falsely declared it in remission. Seemingly perfect son Gooper and his wife, Mae (Madeleine Sherwood), have several children and are anxiously expecting to inherit Daddy's millions. By contrast, Big Daddy's "favorite," Brick, is a has-been football star who's taken to drinking his days away since the suicide of his "best friend" a year earlier. He resents his wife, Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor), because he believes that she had an affair with his deceased friend. As a result, he refuses to sleep with her, although she remains devoted to him. Since Brick and Maggie have failed to produce any grandchildren, Big Daddy is inclined to leave his estate to Gooper, but Maggie attempts to prevent that by telling him that she is pregnant. Big Daddy knows better, yet he recognizes that Maggie loves Brick so much that she would be willing to do anything for him. Although Brick is self-destructive and resentful, unable to come to terms with his losses, it takes Big Daddy's recognition of his own mortality to make Brick change his perspective. Brick's struggle with his sexual identity, and the nature of his relationship with his "friend," had to be toned down for mass consumption, although this intelligently written and acted film covers such topics as infertility, adultery, and alcoholism that were still considered taboo in the 1950s. Newman brings depth and feeling to the role as Brick, while Taylor succeeds brilliantly in portraying Maggie as a passionate and understanding woman despite her own real-life emotional turmoil over the death of her husband at the time, producer Mike Todd. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

A Place in the Sun
Previously filmed in 1931 under its original title, Theodore Dreiser's bulky but brilliant novel An American Tragedy was remade in 1951 by George Stevens as A Place in the Sun. Montgomery Clift stars as George Eastman, a handsome and charming but basically aimless young man who goes to work in a factory run by a distant, wealthy relative. Feeling lonely one evening, he has a brief rendezvous with assembly-line worker Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), but he forgets all about her when he falls for dazzling socialite Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor). Alice can't forget about him, though: she is pregnant with his child. Just when George's personal and professional futures seem assured, Alice demands that he marry her or she'll expose him to his society friends. This predicament sets in motion a chain of events that will ultimately include George's arrest and numerous other tragedies, including a vicious cross-examination by a D.A. played by future Perry Mason Raymond Burr. A huge improvement over the 1931 An American Tragedy, directed by Josef von Sternberg, A Place in the Sun softens some of the rough edges of Dreiser's naturalism, most notably in the passages pertaining to George's and Angela's romance. Even those 1951 bobbysoxers who wouldn't have been caught dead poring through the Dreiser original were mesmerized by the loving, near-erotic full facial closeups of Clift and Taylor as they pledge eternal devotion. A Place in the Sun won six Oscars, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography, although it lost Best Picture to An American in Paris. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Little Women
Of the many film versions of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, this 1949 MGM adaptation is by far the prettiest. Set in New England during the Civil War, the film relates the various adventures of the March sisters: Jo (June Allyson), Beth (Margaret O'Brien), Amy (Elizabeth Taylor) and Meg (Janet Leigh). Jo emerges as the main character, as she leaves hearth and home to try her luck as a novelist in New York. Moments of high comedy (the sisters' amateur theatricals) are counterpointed with grim tragedy (the death of the youngest March girl), with romantic interludes provided by the faithless Laurie (Peter Lawford) and the loyal Professor Bhaer (Rossano Brazzi). Unlike Selznick's 1933 Little Women or Gillian Armstrong's 1994 adaptation, this 1949 version tends to be more an extension of the old Hollywood contract-player typecasting system than a heartfelt evocation of the Alcott original. Even so, Little Women is consistently pleasing to the eye, especially when seen in its original Technicolor hues. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Last Time I Saw Paris
Loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story Babylon Revisited, MGM's The Last Time I Saw Paris is a star-studded soap opera, luxuriously lensed by director Richard Brooks. In his last film as an MGM contractee, Van Johnson plays reporter Charles Wills, who while covering the VE Day celebrations in Paris, meets and falls in love with the gorgeous Helen Ellsworth (Elizabeth Taylor). Soon afterward, Charles and Helen are married. Charles supports his wife with a low-paying wire service job, devoting his evenings to writing a novel. After numerous rejections, Charles is more than willing to give up writing and live off the revenue of a Texas oil well in which he'd invested. As he squanders his newfound riches on creature comforts, he loses his literary ambitions and, slowly but surely, the love and devotion of his wife. His self-destructive behavior is halted only by a devastating tragedy. Donna Reed costars as Charles sister-in-law Marion, who carries a torch for him throughout the picture, and Eva Gabor contributes a supporting role. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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