A legend has passed, as today we’re mourning Elizabeth Taylor. Whether it was her iconic turn in “Cleopatra” or “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” in classics such as “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” or even in my personal childhood favorite “National Velvet,” Taylor was one of the Hollywood greats. She’ll most certainly be missed.
Of all her famous roles, though, the one that holds the most special place in my heart is when she starred opposite her then-husband Richard Burton in 1967’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” It captured everything we’ve come to know and love about Taylor, and is still just as much fun to watch.
If you thought Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart had good chemistry, just wait until you see Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Shakespeare’s two main characters, Kate and Petruchio, are supposed to butt heads as it is in this play, but Taylor and Burton take it to the next level because their own personal relationship was as passionate and tumultuous offscreen as it was on.
Before “The Taming of the Shrew,” Burton and Taylor had already had several major films under their belt together. He was the Antony to her Cleopatra in “Cleopatra,” the Paul to her Frances in “The V.I.P.s,” the Edward to her Laura in “The Sandpiper” and the George to her Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” They worked well together onscreen and they knew it, which is why there were no holds barred between them in this flick.
Similarly, Taylor was well-known for her big personality, and that was able to come out through the very shrew-ish Kate in “Taming of the Shrew.” Her larger-than-life attitude was able to come through in a way that was as fun as it was fitting to the story.
Beyond what Taylor and Burton brought to the production, the film is just a whole lot of fun overall. What drives it is the relationship between Kate and Petruchio, and as much as Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger had a blast in the 1999 modern remake of the story, “10 Things I Hate About You,” “The Taming of Shrew” takes it to an extreme.
Today, we love our romantic leads to be in conflict with one another as much as we love for them to be in love. While that legacy is as much Shakespeare’s as it is Taylor and Burton’s, seeing them burn alive with passion and temper in this film is something that, more than half a century later, we love going back to again and again.
What is your favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter!