Burton and Taylor

Synopsis: Film star Elizabeth Taylor invites her ex-husband - twice over - Richard Burton to her fiftieth birthday party where, as a recovering alcoholic, he refuses to get drunk with her. He does however consider her suggestion that they star in a stage revival of the play 'Private Lives'. As they announce the project the press speculate on a romantic reconciliation. With a new girlfriend and the prospect of playing king Lear Burton is not happy with the project, especially with Taylor's pill-popping and her lack of stage experience, which causes problems at rehearsal. The play opens to a critical trashing but is popular with audiences, chiefly, again to Burton's chagrin, because they want to see Taylor and, when she is ill, numbers dwindle and the show is put on hold. After a two month run , with a projected tour, the curtain comes down and Taylor tells Burton she has always loved him and still does. A year later however his old life-style catches up with him and he is dead.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Richard Laxton
Production: BBC
  Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 16 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
83 min


Never, never.

Never, never, never.

Liz! Liz! Liz!

Okay. Ladies and gentlemen,

we're here to announce

our theater company's next production.

Nol Coward's comic masterpiece,

Private Lives,

starring none other than

Miss Elizabeth Taylor

and one of the greatest stage actors

of all time,

Mr. Richard Burton.

Liz! Liz! Liz! Liz!

Liz, does this mean marriage

number three for you and Richard?

No, I can assure you that Richard and I

have entered into this venture

for purely creative reasons.

And it seemed to me that since

Richard had, not so very long ago,

spectacularly re-conquered Broadway

in Equus and Camelot,

then I really ought to

cash in on the fact that...

Well, I was pretty certain I had

his phone number somewhere at home.

Richard, can you confirm that?

What, that she had my phone number?

No, we want to showcase a great play.

We believe it's long overdue a revival.

So absolutely no plans

to get back together again?


But you don't mind people thinking that?

Er, people can think what they like.


We're actors

about to do a play together.

But the ad in today's New York Times,

which I gather, Miss Taylor,

you designed yourself,

that kind of begs the question.

- Yes.

- It's just an advert.

A heart with an arrow through it

and the words "together again"?

Well, of course it says that.

That's the whole basis

for Private Lives.

I mean,

it's not like she's used a photo of us

and the words "twice spliced," is it?

That would have made no sense

in the context of the play.

- Liz! Liz! Liz!

- Liz! Liz! Liz!

The car's this way.


- Richard?

- Can I...

- You okay?

- Okay.

Come on, let's wait in the lobby.

God, it's a bloody circus.

Why didn't you tell me

you were going to put

an ad in the paper?

I felt like a bloody idiot.

And the wording? It didn't occur to you

it might cause a bit of a stir?

It was last minute, Richard!

I just suddenly thought,

what a great idea!

To get people talking.

Which it has done.

The pre-sales

have gone through the roof.

You know,

plenty of people told me not to do this.

Well, nobody's said

a single bad word to me about it,

so you must just have wussy advisers!

I ignored them. I go my own way.

You know that.

Sure I do.

Well, don't let me regret it.

I'm ready now, Chen.


Daddy! Daddy!

- Maria.

- Hi.

Liza, how are you, love?

Thank God you made it. We were worried.

What are you wearing?

It's a mink. Is it too much?

- No.

- I just...

I didn't want to seem

like an old codger.

Richard! Richard Burton!

Mom's been celebrating a lot.

See you later.


- Where were you?

- Sorry I'm late, I'm... Technical stuff.

What, for a poetry recital?

Can't they just twiddle

a few knobs on the night?

We're charging quite a lot of money.

Can't afford any cock-ups.

Thank you. Here we are.

No, I don't. I told you on the phone.

- Sure you did.

- I very occasionally...

That's what I imagined you'd be doing.

All the same,

I'll have a Tab if they've got one.

Oh, I love this one.

- Let's dance.

- I can't. I can't...

Richard! It's my birthday.

I get what I want!

You get what you want anyway!

No kidding. Watch and learn.

Ah! That's better.

- Whoo!

- Oh!

Don't you just want to sit down

for a bit?

No, I don't!

I am 50 years of age, Richard,

and I just announced it to the world.

I wanna get drunk and dance a lot!

# Love to love you, baby... #

Thank you.

Thank you.

Now this one I do know!

Oh, for a glass of vintage

that has been cool'd a long age

in the deep-delved earth.

That's a vodka, right?

No, no, no, I've had enough.

I don't want to be half cut

for the recital.

I couldn't bear that.

- Hello, Pockmark.

- Hello, Lumpy.

Been a good night. We played a blinder!

Mmm. Thank you for coming.

I wasn't sure you would.

How long has it been?

I was trying to remember.

- Five years.

- God.

Yeah, thank heaven for the newspapers!

Oh, Christ, this bloody neck.

I swear, Elizabeth,

at times I'm like a cripple!

I had to do these fight scenes

in Camelot.

Some nights I hardly had the strength

to pull my sword out of its sheath

and wave it around a bit.

How very unlike you, Richard.

Stop it!

You've the mind of a collier!


I'm gonna do King Lear next.

I spoke to a producer

who says he'll back it.

You'll be fantastic.

- Well, I'd better...

- Don't. Stay.

Stay here. Just stay!

Not anything else. Just...

How do you f***, anyway?

You can barely move.

There are ways and means, my love.

Do you remember that train

we took to New York?

We just lay there and let

the rocking of the carriage do the job.

You know, I really should go.

No! No, no, I meant it, Richard.

I meant it!

I'll make some tea

and you can read a book

and then you can sleep.

What's she like?


Your new girlfriend, Sally.

Do you really want to talk about that?

Well, just... What sort of woman is she?

I'm interested.

She's lovely.

Hmm. Good.

Victor's a lawyer.

He's Mexican and he's charming.


Somebody told me she was like Sybil.

My wife Sybil?

Yeah. Your ex-wife.

Who told you that, anyway? She's...

What? What's she like?

- I'm sorry. I...

- Go to your room!

It's 3:


I had an idea about doing another play.

A Coward.

Elizabeth, I swear to God,

if you don't shut up,

I'm gonna climb out of this bed,

get in my car

and drive back to the Dorchester

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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