Furious Love: Chapters 9 and 10

Chapter nine, "Boom!," and chapter ten, "The Only Game in Town," review the Burton's time spent filming (obviously) Boom! and the demise of Elizabeth's film career (while chronicling the rise of Richard's). Several crazy stories are included in the ninth chapter, including the time even Tennessee Williams had to leave the Burton's chartered yacht after a particularly lurid incident (not involving Richard or Elizabeth, but instead instigated by Rex Harrison's wife, Rachel Roberts). The incident doesn't bear repeating here, as it is truly vile...and for Williams to have left (and for the Burton's to have begged her to stop), well, that should tell you what you need to know for now. Basically, this chapter is an introduction to the increasingly lavish and outrageously extravagant lifestyle that the Burton's enjoyed.

Also, in chapter nine, the authors discuss the filming of The Comedians, a screenplay adapted loosely from a novel by Graham Greene. Greene reportedly didn't blame the Burtons for the spectacle that was his novel on film, but the tension of bad reviews was getting to the Burtons. Elizabeth seemed to put up with it, but Richard wanted to be recognized for his talent. Elizabeth wanted him to be successful as well, and a great moment is recorded towards the end of this chapter. Apparently, when the couple returned to Oxford for the premiere of Doctor Faustus, a journalist began to heckle Burton about abandoning the stage in favor of film. When the journalist asked Richard if he had "[a]ny regrets," Elizabeth turned her wrath upon him, not allowing Richard to speak for himself but instead jumping to his defense, saying: "Oh, excuse me, Richard, that makes me so angry! Because he has not left the stage! That's absolute, bloody rubbish!...Last year he just got finished doing a play for Oxford on the stage. The year before that--what was he doing on Broadway? That was the stage! How can you say he left the stage?...You bastard, David! [David is the journalist.] I knew you'd ask that. Would I be 'selling out' if I deserted film for the stage?" (230)

Again, this is another one of those moments when I can really see her doing something like this. I wish that I could see the film copy of it (the "camera [was] rolling" the entire time...and she didn't hold back).

The rest of the chapter is a bit haphazard and ends with the harsh criticism of her movie with Marlon Brando, Reflections in a Golden Eye.

Chapter ten continues the narrative from chapter nine, touching on some of the same films and including others that Richard and Elizabeth filmed apart. Also in this chapter is coverage of Elizabeth's illnesses, particularly one that forced her to undergo a hysterectomy, an operation that left Richard feeling inadequate when Elizabeth had a hard time dealing with the excruciating pain and the medication given to her after surgery. He writes: "[T]his is the first time where I've seen a loved one in screaming agony for two days, hallucinated by drugs, sometimes knowing who I was and sometimes not, a virago one minute, an angel the next, and [I] felt completely helpless" (244). He is horrified, especially by the confusion brought on by the medication, when Elizabeth doesn't know where she is or who is around her. Additionally, the authors discuss the pain the operation brought on emotionally for the couple who desperately wanted to have a child together (245).

Another disturbing trend that emerges in this chapter is their new found dependence on one another that is not at all related to love but is instead the direct result of alcoholism. The authors describe the increasing drunkenness that led him to verbally assault others and led him to disappear for hours. Much of this seems to be induced by the pressure brought on by both the couple themselves (individually in the relationship) and by the never-ending attention from the press. I think Richard says it all when he says: "I'd like to be alone with E. for about two hundred years but can't even get two days" (253). I think that this is a crucial moment of admission for Burton. He loved the fame and the money, but deep down he knew that there was trouble because of those exact things. Still, the chapter ends with one of his journal entries that indicates his feelings for Elizabeth have not faded. Though "1968 had been a terrible year," Richard writes of his wife at this time:

"She is a wildly exciting love-mistress, she is shy and witty, she is nobody's fool, she is a brilliant actress, she is beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography, she can be arrogant and willful, she is clement and loving...she tolerates my impossibilities and my drunkenness, she is an ache in the stomach when I am away from her, and she loves me!...And I'll love her till I die." (255)

An end note: The chapter also mentions something about Richard writing in his journal and Elizabeth not keeping one. The excuse for Elizabeth was something to the effect of a statement indicating that she prefers to live life rather than write about it.


James said…
Good Lord, what a rock!
Susie said…
Over 33 carats of a rock, my friend.

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