Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Sandpiper (1965) [PG-13] ***

The windswept bluffs, pounding surf and secret coves of California's scenic Big Sur Coast provide the setting for this story of the love affair between Laura Reynolds (Elizabeth Taylor) and Edward Hewitt (Richard Burton). Laura is a free-spirited artist and single mother, living in a rustic beach house, home-schooling her son. Edward is a married Episcopalian priest, director of a nearby private school, where the local court has ordered Laura to enroll her son.

Edward is fascinated by Laura's beauty, artistic talent and bohemian lifestyle. His desire for her sends his well-ordered life spinning out of control and he finds himself in a mid-life crisis. He recognizes that he's no longer doing what he loves - teaching - and has become simply a manager and fund-raiser. Laura and Edward perfectly express the contrast between artist and theologian, heart and mind, female and male. Laura is earthy, sensual and voluptuous; she communicates her feelings with her whole body - her dark eyes, ripe mouth, soft voice and expressive hands. Edward, in contrast, is cerebral and analytical. He has no body consciousness, is out of touch with his feelings and is unable to express the emotions he's experiencing. The course of their love affair, and its impact on Edward's position at the school and on his marriage to his wife Claire (Eva Marie Saint), are both inevitable and devastating.

The Sandpiper was a star vehicle for Taylor and Burton. It's a classic 1960s melodrama, offering big-name star power, beautiful ocean and beach scenery, and little else. Nevertheless, if you have fond memories of the 1960s, the Big Sur Coast, or Taylor and Burton classic films, you might enjoy refreshing those memories with The Sandpiper. Taylor and Burton met in 1963 on the set of Cleopatra and made twelve films together within a decade: Cleopatra, The V.I.P.s, The Sandpiper, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Taming of the Shrew, Doctor Faustus, The Comedians, Boom, Anne of the Thousand Days, Under Milk Wood, Hammersmith is Out, Divorce His - Divorce Hers. Taylor and Burton were married twice, from 1964-74 and again from 1975-76.

Labels: drama, romance

Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=32, viewers=66)

Monterey County on the silver screen
Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

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