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The Sandpiper

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Vincente Minnelli

Laura Reynolds (Elizabeth Taylor) is a free spirit, living in rustic Bohemian splendor in an oceanfront Big Sur home. Minister Edward Hewitt (Richard Burton), a school headmaster, lives a life as constrained as his clerical collar. Now his world is changing. … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Genre: Drama
Release Date: June 23, 1965
1 review about The Sandpiper

Taylor and Burton in unusual romantic melodrama

  • Jan 11, 2010
Rating:
+3
Once you get past the uneasy casting of Richard Burton as an Episcopalian minister, and Elizabeth Taylor playing a free-spirited hippie artist, it's quite easy to enjoy THE SANDPIPER (1965) for it's fresh adult love story, but more so for the beautiful location photography, mostly captured at Big Sur itself.

Single mother Laura Reynolds (Elizabeth Taylor) lives in a ramshackle house perched on the Big Sur coastline. She has raised her son (Morgan Mason) as naturally as possible, so when he is expelled from public school and forced to enroll at the San Simeon boarding school, Laura--who rails against organised religion in any form--is horrified.

The school's headmaster, Dr. Edward Hewitt (Burton), is fascinated by Laura's views and asks her to provide some artwork to use for a stained-glass window in the chapel he plans to have built. Soon, Edward finds himself falling in love, despite being already married to Claire (Eva Marie Saint in a thankless role); and at last, Laura discovers the mutual passion that can be shared by a man and a woman, yet, like the injured sandpiper bird she has rescued, Laura realises that true love is ultimately learning how to fly free...

The love story itself is quite predictable and moralistic even for 1965 (a man of the cloth compromising his vows for an affair with an athiest; shades of "Sadie Thompson"), but THE SANDPIPER is one of the better titles from the lengthy Taylor/Burton screen partnership. Director Vincente Minnelli, who had previously guided Ms Taylor through one of her first big "adult" roles in 1950's "Father of the Bride" (and it's sequel "Father's Little Dividend" the following year), keeps everything as tasteful as possible. This was his third-last film.

Taylor comes off more successfully than Burton, who seems to sink under some particularly awkward dialogue and a rigid, sometimes unsympathetic character. The cast also includes Charles Bronson as a sculptor (the actual redwood statue of Elizabeth Taylor in the film was provided by Edmund Kara). Jazz composer Johnny Mandel supplies the Academy Award-nominated score, highlighted by "The Shadow of Your Smile".

The DVD includes two vintage promotional featurettes. 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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