Would filmgoers come out to see a movie about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton?
When Elizabeth Taylor passed away this spring, it was impossible not to hear about the tempestuous love she shared with Richard Burton, a relationship that over the decades included an affair, two failed marriages and innumerable hot stops and starts.
Now Martin Scorsese and Paramount are hoping that the "Cleopatra" couple is the stuff of appealing drama. According to a report in Deadline they've optioned a book about the pairing titled "Furious Love" and made a rights agreement with the Burton estate. The goal would be to focus on the actors' relationships more than either of their careers or other aspects of their lives. It's a look at the swoon as well as the slumps, a story somewhere between "Titanic" and "The War of the Roses."
We won't even begin to think about casting possibilities, though we suspect the A-listers will be calling their agents on this one. Is there a young actor who wouldn't want to play Richard Burton or Elizabeth Taylor? It will certainly be interesting to see Scorsese take a turn back to the subject of taboo romance, something he hasn't done since "The Age of Innocence" nearly 20 years ago. And a Burton-Taylor film could have a double-barrel appeal: It's the stuff of big love, but with real-world legends we're always curious about.
Of course, intriguing real-world events don't always make great cinema -- we're sure, for instance, that someone is thinking about a royal wedding feature, and hoping they keep it in the realm of idle thought -- and tends to generate more ink than audience interest. A movie about a great romance we've read about for so long could get people to come see what the fuss was about, or get them wondering if they need to come out to see something they've been reading about for so long.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in "Cleopatra." Credit: Fred Prouser / Reuters