Elizabeth Taylor: The Signature Collection [4 Discs] [DVD]

This set contains four films that star the legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor. In addition to Butterfield 8, for which she won the Best Actress Oscar, the set includes the family-friendly horse movie National Velvet, the domestic comedy Father of the Bride, and the adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
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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

Butterfield 8
A woman who has long been short on feelings falls in love with a married man in this emotional drama. Gloria Wondrous (Elizabeth Taylor) is a model and party girl who lives for pleasure and is willing to take men for what she can get from them. Gloria bounces from man to man, but feels that she can only truly confide in Steve Carpenter (Eddie Fisher), a longtime friend with whom she shares a close but strictly platonic relationship, though his fiancée (Susan Oliver) suspects otherwise. Gloria becomes involved with Weston Liggett (Laurence Harvey), a wealthy but emotionally cold man who is married to Emily (Dina Merrill). Weston shows Gloria precious little respect or kindness at first, but as they share a few bouts with the bottle, they discover that both are desperately lacking in self-confidence and have little happiness in their lives. As Gloria and Weston reveal more about themselves to one another, they fall in love, but Gloria isn't sure if she can commit to one man, while Weston has to decide if he can leave Emily behind. Based on the novel by John O'Hara, Butterfield 8 earned Elizabeth Taylor her first Academy Award (for Best Actress) after four unsuccessful nominations. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Father of the Bride
Spencer Tracy received an Oscar nomination for his performance in this classic comedy. Stanley T. Banks (Tracy) is a securely middle-class lawyer whose daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor) announces that she's going to marry her beau Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor). From that point on, everything in Stanley's life is turned upside down. His wife Ellie (Joan Bennett) wants Kay to have the kind of formal wedding that she and Stanley never had, and between meeting his soon-to-be in-laws, the socially prominent Herbert and Doris Dunstan (Moroni Olsen and Billie Burke), his man-to-man talk with the groom, hosting the engagement party, financing the increasingly lavish wedding, and wondering if Kay and Buckley will resolve their differences before arriving at the altar, Stanley barely has time to deal with his own considerable anxieties about his advancing age and how his "little girl" became a grown woman. Director Vincente Minnelli reunited with the principal cast a year later for a sequel, Father's Little Dividend; and the movie was remade in 1991 with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

National Velvet
Although National Velvet was the first starring role for 11-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, the early part of the film belongs to Mickey Rooney in the showier role of Mike Taylor, a headstrong English ex-jockey. Soured on life by a serious accident, Mike plans to steal from the country family that has taken him in, but his resolve is weakened by the kindness of young Velvet (Taylor). The two find a common bond in their love of horses. Velvet wins an "unbreakable" horse in a raffle, and enters the animal in the Grand National Sweepstakes. Though Mike is unable to ride the horse, he aids Velvet in her plan to disguise herself as a jockey; she wins the race...but the story isn't over quite yet. Co-starring as Velvet's mother is Anne Revere, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance. National Velvet is based on the novel by Enid Bagnold. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Paul Newman
    Paul Newman - Brick Pollitt
  • Elizabeth Taylor
    Elizabeth Taylor - Maggie Pollitt
  • Burl Ives
    Burl Ives - Big Daddy Pollitt
  • Jack Carson
    Jack Carson - Gooper Pollitt
  • Judith Anderson
    Judith Anderson - Big Mama Pollitt
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