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Elizabeth Taylor: 10 Classic Movies

Elizabeth Taylor, one of Hollywood's striking beauties, was a compelling actress with more than 50 films to her credit. Here are ten of her best known movies.

Hollywood beauty Elizabeth Taylor.
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Hollywood beauty Elizabeth Taylor.
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

A Hollywood Legend

Movie lovers across the globe fondly remember Elizabeth Taylor and her legacy onscreen and off. The actress, who had been hospitalized for congestive heart failure, died on March 23, 2011. She was 79.

According to a spokesperson, Taylor died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Her family was by her side.

One of Hollywood's striking beauties, violet-eyed Taylor was a compelling actress with more than 50 films to her credit. The British-born American actress rose to fame as a doll-faced child star who became a Hollywood legend.

Taylor was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar five times, and she won the award twice in the 1960s: first for BUtterfield 8 and then for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Taylor's Famous Roles

Elizabeth Taylor portrayed numerous roles throughout her acting career. Her most famous one, however, was the real-life role of beautiful and glamorous movie star.

Taylor was a natural magnet for publicity. Her well-known private life included eight marriages, several near-death experiences and decades of social activism.

She was one of the first celebrities to champion the cause of HIV-AIDS awareness and research. Her work earned her a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993.

This hub highlights ten of Elizabeth Taylor’s best known movies. What is your favorite? Share your opinion and memories in the comments section.

1. National Velvet

National Velvet is based on a novel by the British author and playwright Enid Bagnold. While Taylor appeared in other films before National Velvet, this 1944 movie launched her acting career and boosted her to stardom at the age of 12.

The story tells of a young girl who saves a gifted horse from the knacker's yard and, with the help of a former jockey, trains it for England's Grand National steeplechase.

Directed by Clarence Brown, this Oscar-winning film also stars Donald Crisp and Mickey Rooney. In 2003, the Library of Congress chose to preserve it in the National Film Registry for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic value.

2. Father of the Bride

Father of the Bride, a man copes with the emotional pain of his daughter's engagement, as well as the financial and organizational chaos involved in planning the wedding.

Nominated for three Academy Awards, this 1950 film starred Taylor in one of her first adult roles. Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett were her co-stars, and Vincente Minnelli directed the film.

Taylor also starred in the 1951 sequel, Father's Little Dividend. The films inspired a 1960s television series and two remakes in the 1990s starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton.

Elizabeth Taylor in "Father of the Bride."
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Elizabeth Taylor in "Father of the Bride."
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

3. A Place in the Sun

A Place in the Sun is a 1951 film based on the Theodore Dreiser novel, An American Tragedy. The story centers on a blue collar worker who becomes involved with two women: a beautiful and sophisticated socialite and the niece of a wealthy factory owner.

The film features the acting talents of Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Shelley Winters. Directed by George Stevens, it won six Academy Awards. In 1991, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

4. Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe is a 1952 film based on the classic Sir Walter Scott novel. The story centers on Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a knight of the Round Table, and the two women who love him: the beautiful Lady Rowena and a young Jewish girl named Rebecca.

Nominated for three Oscars, Ivanhoe was the first film in an unofficial trilogy directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Robert Taylor. Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine starred as the leading ladies.

5. Giant

Directed by George Stevens, Giant is 1956 film was based on a novel by Edna Ferber. The critics called it a "sprawling epic" that portrays the life of a Texas cattle rancher, his family, and his business associates.

The film features Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, who died before the film's release. Nominated for ten Academy Awards, Giant won the Oscar for Best Director.

In 2005, the Library of Congress selected Giant for preservation in the National Film Registry for its significance in American history and culture.

Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in publicity still for "Giant."
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Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in publicity still for "Giant."
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

6. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a 1958 film based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams. The Oscar-nominated film is considered one of the most brilliant movie adaptations ever produced from a play.

The story centers on the strained marriage of an alcoholic ex-football player and his beautiful wife. The man's reunion with his wealthy father, who is dying of cancer, brings a flood of memories and revelations for the family. Paul Newman and Burl Ives join Taylor in starring roles.

Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
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Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

7. BUtterfield 8

BUtterfield 8 is a 1960 film based on a 1935 novel by John O'Hara. It is thought that he based his work on the real-life story of Starr Faithful, a Depression-era flapper.

The unusual title comes from a telephone exchange name once used in North America. At the time, people referred to telephone numbers by letter instead of by number. BUtterfield 8 was the exchange for Manhattan's ritzy neighborhoods on the Upper East Side.

The story centers on a fashionable Manhattan beauty who is part model, part call-girl. Taylor's performance won the actress her first Academy Award for Best Actress. Directed by Daniel Mann, the film also starred Laurence Harvey and Eddie Fisher.

8. Cleopatra

Cleopatra is a 1963 epic that chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of Egypt's Nile Queen and her attempts to resist Roman imperialism.

The movie nearly bankrupted Twentieth Century Fox due to the elaborate sets, costumes, and props. But it was a hit with movie viewers and managed to garner four Academy Awards.

Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed the film. Richard Burton and Rex Harrison joined Taylor in starring roles. The film earned Taylor the Guinness World Record title of "most costume changes in a film" (65), which she held for more than three decades.

Elizabeth Taylor in the film trailer for "Cleopatra."
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Elizabeth Taylor in the film trailer for "Cleopatra."
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

9. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? earned Taylor her second Oscar for Best Actress. The 1966 film is based on a play by Edward Albee.

Set on a New England college campus, the story examines the volatile marriage of a bitter, aging couple: an associate professor and his alcoholic wife, who is also the college president's daughter.

Mike Nichols directed the film, and the cast includes Richard Burton, Sandy Dennis, and George Segal. All of these actors were nominated for Academy Awards. The movie received nominations for every eligible category (13). It won five Oscars and is considered one of the top 100 movies of the twentieth century.

10. The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew is a 1967 film based on a William Shakespeare play. It tells the story of a very strong-willed couple: a fortune hunting scoundrel and his wealthy, shrewish wife.

Franco Zeffirelli directed the film, which features spectacular sets and costumes. Taylor and her co-star Richard Burton contributed more than a million dollars to the project. Instead of taking a salary, they opted for a percentage of the film's profits. The movie received two Oscar nominations.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in "The Taming of the Shrew."
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Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in "The Taming of the Shrew."
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Your Turn

What is your favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your social networks.

Reference Sources

Elizabeth Taylor's star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame."
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Elizabeth Taylor's star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame."
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

© 2011 Annette R. Smith Last updated on October 22, 2013

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Comments 13 comments

Research Analyst profile image

Research Analyst 3 years ago

This is a great hub, Elizabeth Taylor is a legend!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 3 years ago from Virginia

Great list, I recently was watching lots Oscar winning movies....and I kept coming across her movies.....she was very pretty and talented...at the dinner table on the day she died...my wife and I were talking about her....and the 17 year old and 15 year old said....."Who are you talking about"...they had never heard of her....sad...so sad....I would add one movie to the list.....My Life With Father...see has a supporting part but it is a good part...voted up


Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 3 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

@Research Analyst and @Cogerson, thanks so much for the comments and encouragement. Some of my favorites were her mid-1950s films, like "Elephant Walk" and "The Last Time I Saw Paris."


annmackiemiller profile image

annmackiemiller 3 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

Very well written, a great tribute to a beautiful lady.


Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 3 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Thank you, annmackiemiller!


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 3 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Ms. Taylor was a true talent. When she was filming cat On A Hot Tin Roof, her husband was killed. Her grief probably contributed to the edginess of her character Maggie. Not many people would have kept working. She wanted to honor her committment to the film. So many of her films are classic and she is so beautiful one has trouble focusing on her words instead of her face. Thanks for this walk down memory lane.


Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 3 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

You're welcome, Hyphenbird. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub!


Vieenrose profile image

Vieenrose 2 years ago

Thank you so much for this hub!!! I cannot express in words how much i admire Elizabeth Taylor...reading this only reaffirmed that. I absolutely loved Cat on A Hot Tin Roof..you could feel her grief when Brich continuously ignored her advances/pleas. She was so talented/expressive in that she didn't have to rely on her beauty for roles


Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Hello, Vieenrose. It's a pleasure to meet you! Elizabeth Taylor's beauty and talent will surely live on through her many memorable movies and roles. I'm glad you enjoyed the article, and I appreciate your comments!


 
teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago Level 8 Commenter

I love No. 2 & 8. They are movies I could watch over and over. I love that last photo of her in the red, she was truly beautiful.


Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Teaches12345, thank you for stopping by! I also like "Cleopatra" (and most historical or biblical epics), but it's been a while since I watched the movie. I once owned a video copy, and I really must add the DVD to my collection. Elizabeth Taylor was a beautiful actress, and I like that last portrait, too.


jandee profile image

jandee 19 months ago from Liverpool.u.k. Level 1 Commenter

Hello Annette,extremely good looking was Elizabeth . That was a nice little trip down yesterday so thanks for that. I live quite close to the racecourse and the downside is that there are many horses who may have just sprains and they are put to sleep ,maybe a dozen a year . (I realise that the film wasn't made in the U.K,was it california?)

best from jandee. Enjoyed.


Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 19 months ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Hello, jandee. I am glad you enjoyed this walk down Memory Lane, and I appreciate your kind remarks. It saddens me, though, to hear that so many racehorses are put to sleep each year simply because of a broken leg or sprain. Adoption is a much better answer. (As for the location of the film: although it was set in the U.K., Turner Classic Movies says it was filmed in California.)

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