New Movies: Boom!

  • Share
  • Read Later

This film makes it official: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor—presumably under pressure of their duties as symbols of Married Love and Gracious Living—have given up acting for entertaining. Or rather, trying to. They display the self-indulgent fecklessness of a couple of rich amateurs hamming it up at the country-club frolic, and with approximately the same results.

To follow up their camp version of Dr. Faustus (TIME, Feb. 11, 1966), Boom! is their incredibly retitled camp version of Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. If possible, it is worse. Faustus at least had Marlowe's mighty lines, but Milk Train was not even good Williams (it flopped on Broadway in two different versions, in 1963 and 1964).

Elizabeth plays Flora Goforth, a decaying harridan who has made herself one of the richest women in the world by marrying six husbands—"a pyramid of tycoons." She is spending the summer on her private Mediterranean is land, in a flashy white villa guarded by a sinister dwarf (Michael Dunn) and his killer dogs. When she is not screaming at her servants or bullying her pretty secretary (Joanna Shimkus), Flora is rasping out her gamy memoirs into a complex of microphones and tape recorders scattered throughout the house.

Onto this island paradise scrambles Chris Flanders (Burton), a footloose maker of poems and mobiles who has been on hand for the demise of so many members of the jet set that he has earned the sobriquet "Angel of Death." In Williams' play, Chris was a handsome young man freighted with a load of Saviour symbolism. The Christ aspect has been mercifully muted in the movie, but there is still plenty of mystical mystification in the role. It seems that his vocation—conferred on him by a holy man in Baja California—is to help people ease their way into death, and Flora, hemorrhaging into her handkerchief, is his current candidate. She has other plans for Chris—bed. But when Flora finally gets him there, he begins taking off her jewels to prepare her for going forth on that far and final journey.

The jewels, incidentally, were genuine: about $2,000,000 worth used in the course of the picture—most of them came from Bulgari in Rome. Genuine, too, was the Goforth villa, built for the occasion in Sardinia and fitted out with a real monkey, a real myna bird and real sitar-strumming Indians. But not real acting. And certainly not much real camp. About the only amusing scene in the film is the entrance of Noel Coward, a minor character known as the Witch of Capri, clad in a brown dinner jacket and riding pig-a-back on a servant.