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DVD Review: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - The Film Collection

Posted on Thursday, January 11th, 2007 1:48 PM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkElizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - The Film Collection
DVD - 4-movie box set
Warner Bros. 82110 - Region 1

List Price: $49.98 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

Not Rated

Bogie and Bacall were first, and then the 60's had Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. On and off-screen, they were a steamy couple. That was before my time, so some of the mystique is lost on me, but their movies will endure for future generations to appreciate.

This box set contains the following movies:

  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
  • The V.I.P.s (1963)
  • The Sandpiper (1965)
  • The Comedians (1967)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1966, Black & White, 131 mins.

 Theatrical This DVD
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1 1.85:1
Audio:

Mono

Dolby Digital 1.0 (Mono)

Disc 1

  • Movie
  • Commentary by Director Mike Nichols with Steven Soderbergh
  • Commentary by Cinematographer Haskell Wexler
Disc 2
  • Vintage Biographical Profile: Elizabeth Taylor - An Intimate Portrait
  • Featurette: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: A Daring Work of Raw Excellence
  • Featurette: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Too Shocking for its Time
  • 1966 Mike Nichols Interview
  • Sandy Dennis Screen Test
  • Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton Movie Trailer Gallery

About the Movie

An older couple who are hostile toward each other at most every turn are hosts to a younger couple, and what ensues is a shameless display of destructive behavior on the former's part, and a sign of what could lay in the future for the latter. Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Elizabeth Taylor), Supporting Actress (Sandy Dennis), Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume Design.

I remember seeing this in high school as an example of Edward Albee's work. I didn't care much for it then, but what high school kid is going to appreciate a black & white movie where two of the characters berate each other for almost two hours straight? Seing it again shows it to be a demonstration of wordplay and acting prowess, but it's still not something I'd care to see again. Perhaps this movie is to be appreciated for its art form more than its content and message.

How Does it Look?

The transfer is pretty good, but does show signs of film weave (horizontal shifting) in spots. Contrast is important in a black and white movie, and the image has a suitable amount to convey shadows as well as highlights. There are occasional moments where the image brightens and then comes back to normal, almost as if different elements were used to fill in the gaps of the primary element. The average bit rate hovered around 5Mbps, with jumps to 8Mbps during certain scenes.

How Does it Sound?

Sound is mono, which is true to the original. Dialog is easy to understand and no distracting problems were noticed.

The V.I.P.s

1963, Color, 119 mins.

 Theatrical This DVD
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1 2.35:1
Audio:

Mono

Dolby Digital 1.0 (Mono)

Disc 1

  • Movie

About the Movie

First-class stars book passage for romantic melodrama mixed with wry comic flourishes in The VIPs. Frances (Elizabeth Taylor) is running from her neglectful tycoon husband (Richard Burton) into the arms of suave Marc (Louis Jourdan). Filmmaker Max (Orson Welles) is dodging the taxman. Harried entrepreneur Les (Rod Taylor) is blind to the romantic devotion of his secretary (Maggie Smith). And a dotty duchess (Margaret Rutherford won an Oscar, Golden Globe and National Board of Review Awards for her performance) is determined to save her ancestral manor.

How Does it Look?

The picture quality varies from time to time, but never reaches a point of unacceptability. There is a slight flicker that reminds you of the aged film that it is.

How Does it Sound?

The mono sound is good, with no distracting audio artifacts.

The Sandpiper

1965, Color, 117 mins.

 Theatrical This DVD
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1 2.35:1
Audio:

Mono

Dolby Digital 1.0 (Mono)

Disc 1

  • Movie
  • Featurette: Statue for the Sandpiper
  • Featurette: The Big Sur

About the Movie

Laura Reynolds (Elizabeth Taylor) is a free spirit, living in rustic Bohemian splendor in an oceanfront Big Sur home. Minister Edward Hewitt (Richard Burton), a school headmaster, lives a life as constrained as his clerical collar. Now his world is changing. Blessed with a devoted wife (Eva Marie Saint), he must come to terms with his love for another woman.

How Does it Look?

The color is quite good and the image is quite stable. There is the familiar film flicker in the transfer, but it's not too distracting.

How Does it Sound?

The mono sound is suitable for the task at hand. Dialog is easily understandable, but the music has limited range.

The Comedians

1967, Color, 152 mins.

 Theatrical This DVD
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1
2.35:1
Audio:

70mm 6-track

Dolby Digital 1.0 (Mono)

Disc 1

  • Movie
  • Featurette: The Comedians in Africa

About the Movie

A poor nation can mean riches…for the corrupt. In an absorbing screenplay based on his novel, master of intrigue Graham Greene (The Third Man, The Quiet American) sets passions both romantic and political against the backdrop of Haiti during the brutal rule of Papa Doc Duvalier.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor lead a who’s-who cast of stars who portray diplomats, imposters, adulterers, hangers-on, the indolent and even a pair of pacifist vegetarians – all caught up in the reign of terror. From the discovery of a dead body in the bottom of a pool to a harrowing showdown with Papa Doc’s ruthless secret police, The Comedians tells a story as disturbing and redeeming as mankind’s conflicted heart.

How Does it Look?

The color picture is good with no distracting video artifacts. There is a little weave, but not much.

How Does it Sound?

The sound is good, with better fidelity than the other movies in this set on average. There was an odd phasing issue in some of the initial chapters, but it did not continue.

 

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