From Dust to Ash Wednesday

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

ash wednesday

 

Back in 1973 Elizabeth Taylor did a movie directed by Larry Peerce that Richard Burton hated and told her not to do. She did not listen, and they were divorced (again) shortly thereafter.

The movie was Ash Wednesday about a fat, aging rich matron (Taylor) who undergoes plastic surgery and emerges as thin, beautiful, stunning Elizabeth Taylor, up to her shoulders in mink, jewels, and a bon vivant lifestyle.

For starters the movie begins with a montage of Taylor and her husband Henry Fonda in youth (early photoshopping of the two stars) as lovers, friends, and then married. The photos slowly reveal Fonda growing older and then Taylor growing fatter.

We have to give Miss Taylor credit for poking fun at her own image. All this suffering happens to a gorgeous, sensitive and delightful film score by Maurice Jarre.

Taylor is also done up in early scenes with plenty of wrinkles and weight. She looks like she was doing a reprise of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The movie used actual scenes of plastic surgery, which put people off their popcorn back then. It is still mildly gross to see, and then Elizabeth is wrapped up like Claude Rains in the Invisible Man.

However, the transformation is stunning—and delightful. She expects to reveal herself to her old hubby Fonda as the beautiful girl he married. Therein lies the tale.

A year later Fonda actually did undergo surgery and took 25 years off his face. He then did Once Upon a Time in the West and played himself as a 25-year old villain in flashback scenes.

Who says movies don’t reflect real life?

This is a gem, but only available on VHS. Why? It deserves a wide audience on streaming video. We hooted audibly several times.

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