She was before my time, really — Ms. Taylor. When I discovered her, she was even past her White Diamonds phase. She’d become best-known as a defender of Michael Jackson. A recluse. Eccentric. Full of character, but a shadow of her former self.
In college, a friend introduced me to the 1951 film A Place in the Sun. Taylor looked fantastic — thin and impossibly beautiful, palling around with her real-life gay BFF, Montgomery Clift. In fact, she was so stunning, so perfect, so over-the-top, in a way, that I decided to draft a version for our theatre company a couple of years ago. It was a joy to do, and frankly, it’s one of my favorite shows I’ve ever worked on.
The best part of the film — apart from Taylor’s nonstop glow and Shelley Winters’ incessant, cartoonish whining — is Liz’s collapse when she learns that Monty has committed an unspeakable deed: he’s drowned Shelley Winters. (Never mind that the audience has spend nearly all of the movie hoping for Winters’ demise.)
Taylor is taken upstairs to her room by her mother and a maid and shuts the door. Then, in one of the most amazing shots ever captured on film, the camera follows her through the wall, watching her in a collection of mirrors as she shuffles to the center of the room and collapses onto a rug — not crumples, not kneels, but collapses, falls, like a tree in the forest. It’s amazing.
Thanks, for everything, Liz. We’ll keep watching.