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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Boom! (1968)

An outrageously wealthy but terminally ill woman (Elizabeth Taylor) is vacationing in her summer home on a secluded island in the Mediterranean when a poet (Richard Burton) trespasses on her island. He is known as the "Angel Of Death" because whenever he visits, someone dies. On paper, this film would seem to have everything going for it. Directed by Joseph Losey (THE GO BETWEEN), a screenplay by Tennessee Williams, cinematography by Douglas Slocombe (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), a score by John Barry and two of the biggest stars (at that time) in the leads. How to explain the mess that stumbles across the screen? Well, for starters, the source material. It's based on a Williams play THE MILK TRAIN DOESN'T STOP HERE ANYMORE that flopped, not once, but twice on Broadway. It's just not a good play. Despite its gorgeous Sardinia setting (a sprawling white villa on the cliffs overlooking the sea), it's not cinematic at all. Ordinarily, it wouldn't be a problem if the dialogue were sufficiently compelling but the film lacks even a hint of Williams' beautiful prose. Burton is way too old for a role that was conceived for a beautiful young man (Tab Hunter played it on Broadway) and the role of the Witch Of Capri (played by Mildred Dunnock in the original cast) is given to a gnome like Noel Coward. All we're left with are the stunning scenery and some occasionally amusing line readings from Taylor. With Joanna Shimkus (soon to retire and marry Sidney Poitier), Michael Dunn and Romolo Valli.

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