Joseph Losey (U.K., 1968)
There was a time when great actors could devour the scenery and still be hungry for more. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were two such thespians whose triumphs of hyper-histrionics in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Taming of the Shrew had them belching out entire dramas in bulimic bafflement. With Losey’s Boom!, they ate up Tennessee Williams and his billowy play, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. The role of Flora Goforth was tailor-made for Taylor. Sissy, as she’s called, has sent five industrialists to their graves, and now she is ensconced in her modernist Mediterranean manse, dictating her death-throe memoirs via a P.A. system. Unexpectedly, she’s intruded upon by Chris Flanders (Richard Burton), a “professional guest” who laps at the laps of well-endowed, dying dowagers. A long night of unraveling ensues in which the unwanted visitor displays his talents for oracular morbidity. Filmed under a hot Sardinian sun, Boom! has fantastic costumes by Valentino, dripping jewels by Bulgari, and a million dollars’ worth of special affects.
• Written by Tennessee Williams, based on his play The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore and his short story “Man Bring This up Road.” Photographed by Douglas Slocombe and Chic Waterson. With Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Noel Coward, Joanna Shimkus. (110 mins, Color, 35mm, From Universal Pictures)