Thursday, February 24, 2011

Butterfield 8

One of my most favorite Elizabeth Taylor movies in Butterfield 8.  She plays a disturbed woman who is employed as a model so the costumes are amazing.  Lots of pretty dresses she must wear around town to be photographed in.  Even her "down time" outfits are amazing....and of course she appears in that gorgeous slip and mink coat.  I enjoy the story very much, too, but I do not know what makes me watch this more, the costumes or the story....or Elizabeth Taylor.  Laurence Harvey stars in Butterfield 8, as well, and even though he is very handsome and I enjoy looking at him, his caracter really gets on my ever last nerve.

BUtterfield 8 was named for a list of old Manhattan telephone prefixes that was used to place calls in NYC up until the 1960’s.  Gloria Wonderous, Taylor's character, gave Mr. Ligget a gift of a lighter with BU 8 in-graved into the side so he would always have her number. Gloria would call in to get her messages.  It seems to be like an answering service, as well.  Since I was not alive during the time such prefixes were used, I have no experience with them except for hearing them in movies and older television programs.

The film was based on a 1935 novel, BUtterfield 8 , written by John O’Hara, however there was,  little resemblance of the book in the film.  I read the book after I saw the movie, years later, in fact, and can honestly say that there was not much similarity, although I enjoyed both.

"Gloria Wandrous (Elizabeth Taylor) wakes up in wealthy executive Weston Liggett's (Laurence Harvey) apartment and finds Liggett has left her $250. Insulted, Gloria, whose dress is torn, takes Liggett's wife Emily's mink coat to cover herself and scrawls "No Sale" in lipstick on the mirror. But she orders her telephone exchange, BUtterfield 8, to put Liggett through if he should call.
Gloria visits a childhood friend, pianist Steve Carpenter (Eddie Fisher), in his Greenwich Village apartment. He chastises Gloria for wasting her life on one-night stands, but agrees to ask his girlfriend Norma (Susan Oliver) to lend her a dress. Gloria leaves, whereupon Norma jealously gives Steve an ultimatum: He must choose between her and Gloria.
Liggett takes a train to the countryside where his wife Emily (Dina Merrill) is caring for her mother. A friend, Bingham Smith (Jeffrey Lynn), advises him to end his adulterous relationships and return to Bing's law firm instead of working for the chemical business of Emily's father.
Gloria lies to her doting mother Annie (Mildred Dunnock), claiming to have spent the night at Norma's. A neighbor, Fanny Thurber (Betty Field), insinuates that Gloria spends many nights in less than virtuous circumstances.
Liggett returns home. Finding the lipstick and money, he phones Gloria to explain the money was meant for her dress, which he had torn." from Wikipedia.  This explanation softens Ms. Wonderous, a bit, and she says she MIGHT be in the area where Ligget will be later that night. As usual, I will not spoil the movie and let you watch to see what me in saying this is not a movie to be missed if you enjoy mid century fashions or seeing Elizabeth Taylor in prime form.

She throws this beautiful coat back in the closet and takes the mink instead.

from IMDb
One thing the movie sorta, kinda glosses over is the fact that Gloria was part call girl.  "John O'Hara's 1935 novel BUtterfield 8 was based on the life and death of a real-life call girl named Starr Faithfull." From Turner Classic Movies .  Sure, Ligget leaves her money and Gloria is offended, he later offers her an apartment and allowances to live to be his mistress, she stabs his foot with her stiletto....but in the movie she is just a slut, nympho, and alcoholic.  This was much more proper for the Production Code of 1959 /1960.  The same thing was done with Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Holly Golightly was a high priced (for the time) call girl in the book while in the movie she was a model who met up with men in night clubs.  The men gave her money for the powder room, usually 50 dollars (!!!!), I assume to tip the matron (?) and she pocketed the change.  Maybe I have a weird opinion of this subject but I do not see why being a nympho, slut, loose woman, and alcoholic is so much better than earning a living with what these ladies where going to do anyway?  I could write and write on this subject (and have in other venues) but this blog is not the place for my soap box on this subject.

She brushes her teeth with the scotch in her glass. Reminds me of the Kesha song, Tik Tok

Butterfield 8 is highly recommended by me and I will watch it again and again.  To tie this into the Oscars here are the awards it won and was nominated for...
"It won the Academy Award for Best Actress (Elizabeth Taylor) and was nominated for Best Cinematography, Color for 1960. It was also nominated for the Best Actress - Drama Golden Globe Award for the same year's releases." from Wikipedia

from Apartment Therapy (huh? odd where one might find photos)



  1. Oh no, I really want to watch this movie after reading your review, but I can't find it at any of my local libraries. Guess I shall have to try and download it.

  2. it just came on TMC but I can not find it scheduled again. If you have Netflix, I am sure they have it and might be an "instant watch". Well worth the search.

  3. Great review! I don't think I've ever seen this movie, but I'll have to make sure I watch next time it's on TCM.