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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When they were good, they were superb......
As a great admirer of Richard Burton's filmwork, I snatched this set up immediately. All the films, save for Vicente Minnelli's "The Sandpiper" held my interest throughout, with "Virginia Woolf" and "The Comedians" (based on the Graham Greene novel) taking top honors.

"The VIPs" was a pleasant surprise as I was completely unfamilar with this Burton/Taylor...
Published on 1 Nov. 2008 by Kenneth M. Pizzi

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good film -- terrible sound quality
The film is very worthwhile as a time-capsule glimpse into the kind of ambitious-yet-commercial, glamor-slash-message productions that were made in that era. Never mind that the picture quality has not been remastered. But the English soundtrack is at such a low audio level that an average TV has to be turned up to its highest volume to make some of the scenes, especially...
Published on 15 May 2012 by KurtM


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good film -- terrible sound quality, 15 May 2012
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This review is from: The Comedians - Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor [DVD] (DVD)
The film is very worthwhile as a time-capsule glimpse into the kind of ambitious-yet-commercial, glamor-slash-message productions that were made in that era. Never mind that the picture quality has not been remastered. But the English soundtrack is at such a low audio level that an average TV has to be turned up to its highest volume to make some of the scenes, especially the intimate ones between Taylor and Burton, audible at all. I have never yet experienced such an extreme case on a DVD. Probably this was done to remove some kind of noise from the old recording, but it leaves many passages almost inaudible and somewhat distorted. What the "remasterers" did add, though, is a completely needless fake "stereo" effect on some dialogue scenes, where the sound is shifted more or rather less accurately from left to right depending on where the speaker is standing in the frame. The quality is not as bad on the German and Spanish dubbed soundtracks, which are also there, though Amazon.co.uk, typically, fails to list them in the product description. Oh, by the way, though I ordered the "Spanish import" version, the disc I received had the English cover, not the one the item picture shows.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When they were good, they were superb......, 1 Nov. 2008
By 
Kenneth M. Pizzi (San Mateo, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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As a great admirer of Richard Burton's filmwork, I snatched this set up immediately. All the films, save for Vicente Minnelli's "The Sandpiper" held my interest throughout, with "Virginia Woolf" and "The Comedians" (based on the Graham Greene novel) taking top honors.

"The VIPs" was a pleasant surprise as I was completely unfamilar with this Burton/Taylor venture. Supporting cast is excellent with Rod Taylor, Louis Jourdan (as Tayor's lover), and the unmistakably impressive Orson Welles, in a semi-comedic role opposite Elsa Martinelli.

Melodrama to be sure, but done with class, wit, and an engaging storyline that holds one's interest throughout its entire 119 minutes. It is amazing how some actors, like Burton and Taylor can take a relatively bit of fluff from Terrence Rattigan's screenplay, and transform it into something absorbing and grand.

What makes these films work? One would have to argue that the chemistry between Burton and Taylor in so many of their films was unmistakable; certainly Mike Nichol's "Virginia Woolf" is a masterpiece, but these are performers who have a intrinsic quality that is rarely seen in actors today--I think we would call it PRESENCE--players ultimately in command of their material and the roles they play who make acting seem effortless and entirely convincing. Burton is a master of roles. He can play the burnt-out professor in "Virginia Woolf" as well as a conflicted, upstanding minister and school headmaster whose life, contrained as his clerical collar, tempts an extramarital affair with the free-spirited mother (Taylor) of one of his students in "The Sandpiper."

The commentaries and extras on "Virginia Woolf" are both ample and exemplary, while shedding a new critical light on this classic play.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately, Taylor and Burton Are at the Heart of the Story, 29 Sept. 2011
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Comedians - Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor [DVD] (DVD)
"The Comedians" (1967), runs a long, long 152 minutes. It stars the most famous acting couple of that time, probably still among the world's most famous, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who notoriously fell in love, while still married to others, during the filming of Cleopatra 2 Disc [DVD] [1963]. This dark film is based on Graham Greene's novel of the same name-- The Comedians. Greene wrote the screenplay himself, for MGM, with whom he was under contract at the time, as were the actors; he undoubtedly was instructed to make it a star vehicle for the pair, who were making the seventh of their eleven movies together.

This color film was set in Haiti during the tyrannical rule of Papa Doc Duvalier; it was actually filmed in African Dahomey and Benin and in the Victorine Studios in Nice, France: Haiti had been a French colony; at least at that time it apparently looked French, and some of its residents can speak French in addition to its own Creole. The picture was directed by Peter Glenville, and boasts rather an all-star cast, in addition to Taylor/Burton. There are Peter Ustinov (Agatha Christie - Death On The Nile [DVD]); Alec Guinness (Alec Guinness Collection - Screen Icons [DVD]); Paul Ford and Lillian Gish. And a phalanx of good black actors: Georg Stanford Brown, Roscoe Lee Brown, James Earl Jones, Gloria Foster, Zakes Mokae, Raymond St. Jacques, Cicely Tyson, and Douta Seck. The film tells the story of Brown, played by Burton, a sardonic white hotel owner who sees both his inn and his adopted country falling apart, and therefore throws himself into a passionate affair with Martha Pineda (Taylor), wife of Latin American diplomat Manuel Pineda (Ustinov). Additional complications include Brown's friendships with some rebel leaders; politically sensitive hotel guests, Ford and Gish as Mr. and Mrs. Smith; and Guinness as Major H.O. Jones, scheming international arms dealer.

But, unfortunately, Taylor and Burton are at the heart of the story. And their too, too frequent love scenes stop the story cold every time. They throw absolutely no sparks: someone much cleverer than I once said that actors falling in love while filming send off many sparks; actors in a settled relationship while filming leave the sparks in the trailer. At least Burton can carry the film pretty well when he's on his own, or playing off others, such as Guinness, Ford or Jones. It must be said that Taylor brings nothing to her part, though, in fairness to her, there's nothing much written there. She gets to kiss Burton, and tell him how much she loves him, that's all. In some ways, the film is an obvious candidate for a remake: I've read somewhere that 56 % of Greene's prodigious output has been filmed, some works more than once. Greene was, after all, both a screenwriter and novelist. But I doubt that, even aside from Taylor and Burton, any studio could today afford the cast that this film seems to require. Though this time they could actually film in Haiti, and earn the undying thanks of that poor starved nation.

Greene (1904-1991), who was one of the more illustrious British writers of the 20th century, enjoyed a very long life, and a very long, distinguished, prolific writing career. Some of his writing highlights are The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics), The End Of The Affair (Vintage Classics), and The Third Man.. Many of his books were bestsellers; most were made into movies. He was one of the better-known Catholic converts of his time; many of his thrillers, as this one, deal with Catholic themes of guilt and redemption. He created morally complex characters, while he explored moral and theological dilemmas through psychologically astute character studies, presented in exciting dramas on the international stage.

According to IMDb, this was the first time, of their numerous collaborations, that Burton made more than Taylor: he got $750,000. She ordinarily made $1m a picture, but the studio got her to take only ½ million by telling her they'd also offered the part to Sophia Loren. And what's with all that Smith, Jones and Brown business? Haven't a clue. Only for Taylor/Burton/Greene fans, I think.
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4.0 out of 5 stars but I enjoyed it all the same, 23 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Comedians - Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor [DVD] (DVD)
This certainly was a different film to what I thought it would be; but I enjoyed it all the same. As usual Burton and Taylor excel and work well together. The extras which came with the film were also very entertaining and interesting. The plot is basically about the two main characters carrying out an affair behind Ustinov's back (Taylor's boring but rich husband) and Guinness puts two penny worth in to spoil everything. Based on true facts re the Papa Doc era so quite frightening and upsetting........
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars decent collection, 25 Feb. 2012
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I purchased this as I'd wanted to see The VIPs (not available for rental or purchase elsewhere), so ordered this set. I had already seen (and loved) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, so figured at least 2 out of 4 would be decent.

The VIPS was the second Taylor/Burton outing since their first on Cleopatra, and it still stands the test of time. It's allegedly based on a true story of Vivien Leigh who wanted to leave her husband Laurence Olivier for lover Peter Finch, then got stuck in the fog at Heathrow waiting for her plane to take off. It has an all-star cast, including a very young Maggie Smith, Orson Welles and a cameo from David Frost playing a reporter. Multi-stranded storylines which comfortably come together in places, this is a fun, glamorous look at a night of the 1960s international high-flying set. Margaret Rutherford initially seems to be there for comic relief, but provides the most heartfelt and satisfactory ending (and won an Oscar for it too).

The Comedians is an altogether more serious affair. Set in Haiti just as a dictatorship comes into force, I understand that this is one of the few historically and politically accurate accounts in the commercial arts of Haiti in the 1960s, and is based (and written for the screen by) Graham Greene. It was compelling and the cast was excellent, but I found it too long (2.5 hours) and dragging in parts, but appreciated its noble intents.

The Sandpiper I hadn't even heard of before, and perhaps for good reason. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, it tells the story of a free spirit (Taylor) who clashes with the priest/headmaster (Burton) who is legally entitled to take her son away. It started with such a promisingly intriguing premise but didn't quite delve deeper than the archetypes that it could have. Still worth watching for their breathtaking on-screen chemistry.

Mike Nichols' directorial debut Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a classic, and should be a part of everyone's DVD collection.

Overall, a satisfying purchase!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch it for the acting and the 1960s feel, 18 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The Comedians - Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor [DVD] (DVD)
Very Graham Greene: bored and disenchanted ex-pats living in a hot, exotic and corrupt developing country. Essentially quite depressing in many ways.

I liked the film though, chiefly because of the good acting. Alec Guinness starts off playing his usual clipped accent, evasive Englishman, but morphs into something much more interesting. Richard Burton is brilliant acting against type as a rather unemotional and disengaged man. There is a particularly brilliant scene towards the end between AG and RB: one continuous shot with the two of them talking; masterly acting. James Earl Jones is mesmerizing as a good doctor. Elizabeth Taylor unfortunately has little to work with in an underwritten and stereotypical role, but still manages to shine.

The very 1960s feel of the film (music, clothes, film editing) is also enjoyable, and adds to the overall exotic feel of the film.

Apparently this film was not a success when it was made, but I would recommend it. You need to have patience though (it is far too long at 2.5 hrs) but it is well worth it for the acting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 17 Oct. 2014
By 
R. Pinheiro Goncalves "RPG" (London) - See all my reviews
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Very nice product. Arrived fast and well wrapped! Really glad!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Taylor Burton, 25 April 2011
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I have been somewhat disappointed with the set of four DVD's as I have been unable to play The Comedians on my multi-region player. The other three DVD's were fine but I feel I have not had full value for money. For my personal taste The Sandpiper and The V.I.P.'s were very enjoyable to watch, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf would not have been a singular film I would have selected.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoying these Taylor/Burton classics, 2 April 2013
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V. Mccloy (Singapore) - See all my reviews
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Having just read the Richard Burton diaries I was in the mood to watch some of the old films. Was worried about the region issue but these play fine on my multi region dvd player and panasonic viera TV. i am Singapore based. So very pleased with the product and enjoying the films
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Comedians - Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor [DVD] (DVD)
excellent
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