The public image of Richard Burton (1925-1984), for better or for worse, will forever be intertwined with Elizabeth Taylor (who he married twice) and for a lifetime struggle with alcohol. But at his Hollywood start, Burton established himself as a top Shakespearean actor on par with Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud. Poor film choices—a number of them with Taylor—helped dilute that prestige during his lifetime. Looking back now, thirty years after his passing, there are more triumphs: Hamlet, Becket, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1984, etc. than failures like the bottom of the barrel, The Klansman (1974).
Here are four films (two hits, two lesser-known efforts) that show the versatile range of a man who once with self-deprecating humor mused, “The Welsh are all actors. It’s only the bad ones who become professional.”
Please read the rest of my article over at Criminal Element.