Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story (1995)
Unlike other biopics of Elizabeth Taylor, this 1995 miniseries was made while the screen legend was very much alive, and she did all in her power to try to stop it. She shouldn’t have bothered for, unlike many of her marriages, it’s a fairly tepid affair.
Covering fifty years of Taylor’s life from 1942, the biopic quickly descends into a box-ticking exercise as it cycles through Taylor’s career and her long line of romances. In depicting the former, the biopic clumsily screens trailers of Lassie Come Home and National Velvet or lifts scenes directly from Cleopatra. It is more successful in depicting Taylor’s relationships, aided considerably by the performances of William McNamara as Montgomery Clift, Ray Wise as Mike Todd and Daniel McVicar as Rock Hudson. But the biopic really comes to life once Angus Macfadyen appears as Richard Burton.
In the role of the title character, Sherilyn Fenn certainly possesses the beauty to evoke Elizabeth Taylor, managing to consistently resemble the star from her teen years right through to later life. And when given the opportunity, Fenn recalls Taylor’s manners and humour, particularly in her relationship with Burton. Elsewhere though, the script’s insistence of chronicling every one of her marriages leaves Fenn little time to establish a portrayal of any depth. After all, like the title character of Burton’s Bluebeard, Taylor did have seven different spouses.
Biopic was based on the book by discredited biographer C. David Heymann. Among the many events that Taylor claimed were outright fabrications was the story that she was beaten by her first husband, Nicky Hilton. This is depicted in the film.
Biopic's scene recreations from National Velvet (00:05), A Place in the Sun (00:18), Ivanhoe (01:19), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (01:45) and Cleopatra (03:24) are included in the clip below.