Sunday, March 4, 2007

BUtterfield 8

BUtterfield 8; Drama, USA, 1960; D: Daniel Mann, S: Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey, Eddie Fisher, Dina Merril

New York. Gloria, a call girl, wakes up in a hotel room where she spent the night with the rich Weston Liggett. He payed for the night, but she feels insulted because she really has a crush on him. Falling in depression again, she seeks comfort at Steve, her best friend since her childhood. But that makes Steve's girlfriend jealous. Gloria starts an unusual relationship with Weston, hoping he will leave his wife and marry her in order to get rid of prostitute business. Indeed, Weston falls in love with her and even plans to divorce from his wife Emily. But then Gloria suddenly never returns his phone calls, although she already declared to her mother that she is in love. When, after a week, she finally meets him again in a restaurant, he gets angry and ends every contact with her. But then he changes his mind and decides to apologize to her. He finds Gloria just when she was about to leave for Boston, and she admits that she still loves him. But when they were about to enter a motel room to talk, she suddenly changes her mind again and runs away with her car. He follows her. In the end, she dies in a car accident.

"BUtterfield 8" is an overlong and conventional, but vicious soap opera that dared to push the envelope by coping with the ever interesting theme of prostitution. Back in those days, when censorship was strong, movies had to handle tricky issues with extreme delicacy, sometimes not even having permission to mention what they are about. The opening sequence underlies the films mood; Gloria wakes up in bed inside of a hotel room, looking for her lover who isn't there. The viewer realizes she is naked under her blanket. She dresses up in underwear and brushes her teeth, discovering 250 $ she was handed over. Just the fact that authors dared to put this sequence alone, which is enough to show what this story is about, shows they have courage. But these are not the only scenes controversial for their time; in another one, Gloria reveals her secret to her mother; "Mama, face it: I was the slut of all time!" In another one, she admits to her friend Steve that her mother's lover "did all kind of things" with her when she was 13 - and she enjoyed it. The films extremely ferocious and direct language is even tricky today, and even though the author's skills are average they manage to make the film interesting. Elizabeth Taylor is truly excellent as the confused Gloria, a person who doesn't know what she wants or what her actions are about, and she rightfully won an Oscar.


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