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ELIZABETH TAYLOR IN 'ASH WEDNESDAY' WITH KEITH BAXTER

Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY Year: 1973 Rating: ****

A brilliant plot-device for any forty-year-old actress who was once an ingenue, ASH WEDNESDAY has a middle-aged Elizabeth Taylor circa 1973 playing a character well over sixty...

Beginning at a Swiss resort for plastic surgery far ahead of its time, ASH combines wistful melodrama and a touch of science-fiction since, when the procedure is finished... after being shown in uncomfortable detail from what seems a training film for med students... she winds up the real Elizabeth Taylor at that age... her age, then... thus looking comparably better than ever...

Keith Baxter in ASH WEDNESDAY

Having also lost weight, it's one of her last truly glamorous roles despite portraying an unpretentious and melancholy "Blanche Debois" had she been an old-fashioned, passive wife of a rich, classy yet dominant lawyer from Detroit...

But the first act's not all blood and stitches, revived by hospital crony/scene-stealer Keith Baxter, an outgoing famous photographer providing both small talk and exposition during the surgery aftermath as HER OWN secret layers and THEIR OWN literal bandaged layers are progressively unveiled: leading to Cortina d'Ampezzo Italian ski resort to meet her anticipated husband played by Henry Fonda...

Henry Fonda and Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY

Who'd only been shown in the opening credit montage, using contrived "vintage photos" of the couple, cut-and-pasted from different stages of both Taylor and Fonda's careers... winding up at the hotel's costume party before an important conversation in what's best described as an emotional twist ending, more inevitable than predictable...

Yet her makeover wasn't entirely in vain, romanced by playboy Helmut Berger within the plush hotel's ballrooms and bedrooms that coincide with Baxter's jovial visit (though his charisma's more essential during hospital lockdown)...

Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday

Highlighted by a deliberately awkward dinner with adult daughter Margaret Blythe, hinting at the truth before the audience learns what Taylor's been hiding from, which is right around the corner... 

Overall, despite the god-awful reviews, Richard Burton's disgust and lacking a proper DVD release (hence the dodgy photos), ASH WEDNESDAY is Liz's best 1970's vehicle, and the last time she'd look nearly perfect for her age. 

Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY with Keith Baxter
Keith Baxter in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Helmut Berger in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Margaret Blye in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Henry Fonda in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday

Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Opening montage manipulated images Henry Fonda/Elizabeth Taylor in Ash Wednesday
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY
Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY

Elizabeth Taylor in ASH WEDNESDAY

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