Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor's vs. The Hayes Code

THE writer M.G. Lord, a longtime friend of The Misread City, has a wonderful, counter-intuitive piece on Elizabeth Taylor, especially the films Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Butterfield 8, in the brand-new issue of The Hollywood Reporter. For your humble blogger -- who belongs to a generation for whom Taylor was best-known for big hair and serial divorces -- the piece was an eye opener.

The story begin this way:

On June 10, 1966, Life magazine did one of its many cover stories on Elizabeth Taylor. Far from her usual smoldering beauty, she looked puffy, haggard, decades older than her 34 years. “Liz in a Shocker,” the headline proclaimed. “Her movie shatters the rules of censorship.”
The movie, of course, was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — a scorching drama adapted from Edward Albee’s acclaimed Broadway play. Its frank, gritty language brazenly violated the Production Code, rigid guidelines that had dictated the content of American movies since 1934. 

Lord, of couse, is the author of the cultural study Forever Barbie, the Cold War memoir Astro Turf, and the upcoming How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice. (She's also a die-hard, if not uncritical, fan of sf writer Robert Heinlein.)

This week I'm working as a guest editor at the Reporter and I'm proud to have had a (very) small role in the latest issue. Despite my involvement, there's a lot of good stuff -- smart review of The Kennedys, which sounds like a disaster, sharp profile of new boss of Lifetime  -- in there this week.

And just up on the site today, Friday, a smart story on the rise of the Telenovela that I helped edit.

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