Deservedly or not, Ishtar and Heavens Gate routinely top the Hollywood bomb list. Apparently no one remembers the 1968 Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton vehicle, Boom!, based on Tennessee Williams Broadway flop The Milk Train Doesnt Stop Here Anymore. The lush (in both senses) actress had received Oscar nominations for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer, but her third time starring in a Williams screen adaptation was anything but a charm. Under the direction of Joseph Losey (The Servant), Taylor plays filthy rich, oft-widowed diva Flora Sissy Goforth, who whiles away the hours on her Mediterranean island spilling her memoirs into a tape recorder. The Angel of Death shows up in the guise of a dissolute young poet Burton, at 42, was generally slagged as too old for the role to guide Sissy to the next world. Noël Coward pops in for a caustic cameo as Sissys friend and poison-tongued gossip, the Witch of Capri. The movie cost $5 million and grossed less than $1.5 million; one imagines headlines gloating, Boom! Goes Bust! But one eras earnest excess is anothers camp cavalcade, and no less a figure than John Waters cites Boom! as pivotal to his aesthetic development. Take that as a recommendation, or a warning. The film screens in conjunction with the exhibit Star Quality: The World of Noël Coward.
Wed., Aug. 12, 7 p.m., 2009