This was a film I’d meant to watch for a while because it was Vivien Leigh’s last screen appearance. Then it disappeared off of Instant Netflix and I kind of forgot I wanted to watch it. Luckily for me, TCM showed the film last week as part of its 31 Days of Oscar and boy am I glad that they did. I absolutely loved it. I think it might be one of the finest examples of interlocking storylines I’ve ever seen. Plus, the set decoration and cinematography were to die for. Some of the crispest B&W cinematography I’ve seen in a while. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two: Best B&W Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography (won), Best B&W Costume Design, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress Simone Signoret, Best Supporting Actor Michael Dunn, Best Actor Oskar Werner and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Darling, Doctor Zhivago, A Thousand Clowns and winner The Sound of Music.
I saw this for the first time about a month ago during TCM’s Summer Under The Stars and I was completely blown away by it. It’s compelling and perfectly shot, featuring some truly exquisite black-and-white cinematography. It sinks its hooks into you from the very beginning and doesn’t let up for a minute, ending with one of the most simultaneously heartbreaking and tender finales in cinematic history. It also features one of the greatest on-screen, as well as off-screen, couples, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, in some of their greatest work. It was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards, winning five: Best Sound, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Score, Best Film Editing, Best B&W Costume Design (won), Best B&W Cinematography (won), Best B&W Art Direction (won), Best Supporting Actress Sandy Dennis (won), Best Supporting Actor George Segal, Best Actress Elizabeth Taylor (won), Best Actor Richard Burton, Best Director Mike Nichols and Best Picture. It was up against The Sand Pebbles, Alfie, The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! and winner A Man For All Seasons.