best film: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is Burton’s best film and it is by a wide margin. This is the big problem for Burton—he wasn’t in too many great films—he was in a lot of good ones- but only one film that was in its respective years top 10. That’s awful for an actor of his character and talent. Virginia Woolf though is absolutely fabulous even if Burton’s achievement isn’t quite on the level it is for co-star and then wife Elizabeth Taylor or debut director—the wonder-boy auteur in 1966—Mike Nichols.

best performance:   Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Burton and Taylor wage war on each other and it’s magnificently captured by Nichols. It’s destructive, biting dialogue is perfectly delivered by the two stars. He’s been excellent in a half dozen other films (I love his sparring with Peter O’Toole in Becket and his iciness is perfect for a Richardson angry-Brit film in post-Brando England in the late 50’s in Look Back in Anger.

stylistic innovations/traits: Burton has famous for drinking, being married to Elizabeth Taylor, and his seven Oscar noms (and zero wins). I think he was heavily influenced by Brando’s naturalistic and masculine style in the early 50’s. Burton often played rage—and did so very well. He also played many Priests, famous people and royalty. Unfortunately as you’ll see below he wasn’t paired often with great auteurs and that hurts as he wasn’t in very many great films. Three of the archiveable films below are with his one-time wife Liz Taylor,

directors worked with:  Very weak here- only Tony Richardson, Mike Nichols and Sidney Lumet once a piece.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  2. Becket
  3. Look Back in Anger
  4. The Night of the Iguana
  5. The Robe

Archiveable films

1953- The Robe
1959- Look Back In Anger
1962- The Longest Day
1963- Cleopatra
1964- Becket
1964- The Night of the Iguana
1964- Zulu
1965- The Spy Who Came In From the Cold
1966- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1967- The Taming of the Shrew
1977- Equuas
1984- 1984