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The VIPs

A movie directed by Anthony Asquith

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"I know it is foolishly sentimental to want to sit next to the man that you are eloping with"

  • Dec 29, 2009
THE V.I.P.'s belongs to a genre of film that is now sadly almost extinct - the star-studded character epic. Playwright Terence Rattigan gave us one of the all-time classics with "Separate Tables"; and in 1963 he wrote the script for this most glamorous movie, quickly assembled as a vehicle for the red-hot couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton at the height of "Cleopatra" mania.

The story revolves around several high-profile travelers, stranded at Heathrow airport when bad fog prevents any flights from taking off. Millionaire's wife Frances Andros (Taylor) is leaving her husband (Burton) for the comforting embrace of gigolo Marc (Louis Jourdan). In a bid to dodge the tax-collector, international film director Max Buda (Orson Welles) is forced to marry his featherbrained actress (Elsa Martinelli). A faithful, plain-jane secretary (Maggie Smith), holding a none-too-subtle flame for her boss (Rod Taylor), goes to amazing lengths to help restore his crumbling empire. And a dotty old duchess (Margaret Rutherford) is being forced to take a job in Florida in order to maintain her ancestral home.

Apart from the Taylor/Burton/Jourdan plot (which is hopelessly old-fashioned and melodramatic even for 1963 standards), the rest of the characters still hold up reasonably well. Margaret Rutherford deservedly won an Academy Award for her delightful turn as the Duchess. Elizabeth Taylor looks a treat in her Givenchy wardrobe, and Maggie Smith offers a touching portrait of the ultimate steadfast secretary. It's a rare instance to have Australian actor Rod Taylor playing a character with a broad Aussie accent (something he almost always had to conceal in his movie roles).

The DVD sadly doesn't have any extras (not even the trailer). It's available exclusively in the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton Film Collection (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf 2-Disc Special Edition / The Comedians / The Sandpiper / The V.I.P.s) 5 Disc Set.

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More The VIPs reviews
review by . February 01, 2013
Glitzy but forgettable
The London fog grounds several wealthy passengers who must spend the night in the airport. The unrelated stories involve a wife running off with her lover, a cheap movie mogul, a businessman on the brink of disaster, and an addled Duchess.      Typical of the star-studded movies of its time, this one is all style and no substance. The writing is straight out of a soap opera and Liz Taylor really wallows in the suds. Her star-power can't hide bad acting and her breathy, whiny …
About the reviewer
Byron Kolln ()
Ranked #54
Byron has been actively involved in theatre since the age of 12. He has had a great variety of roles (both on-stage and off). In addition he has hosted the long-running "Show Business" programme … more
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About this movie


For elite passengers awaiting London-to-U.S. flights, takeoff can't occur soon enough. But then fog rolls in, grounding air traffic. Over the next fateful night, the jet-setters must face problems and not flee them. First-class stars book passage for romantic melodrama mixed with wry comic flourishes in The V.I.P.s Frances (Elizabeth Taylor) is runing from her neglectful tycoon husband (Richard Burton) into the arms of the suave Marc (Louis Jourdan). Filmmaker Max (Orson Welles) is dodging the taxman. Harried entrepreneur Les (Rod Taylor) is blind to the romantic devotion of his secretary (Maggie Smith). And a dotty dutchess (Margaret Rutherfor won an Oscar, Golden Globe and National Board of Review awards for ther delightful performance) is determined to save her ancestral manor.
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Director: Anthony Asquith
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 119 minutes

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