The Driver's Seat (May 20, 1974)
Released on May 20, 1974: Elizabeth Taylor is Lise, who takes a holiday in Rome for a very mysterious reason in this surreal drama that has become a Liz Taylor cult-favorite.
Produced by Franco Rossellini
Directed by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi
Written by Muriel Spark with screenplay by Raffaele La Capria and Giuseppe Patroni Griffi
The Actors: Elizabeth Taylor (Lise), Andy Warhol (English Lord), Ian Bannen (Bill), Guido Mannari (Carlo), Mona Washbourne (Mrs. Helen Fiedke), Luigi Squarzina (lead detective), Maxence Mailfort (Pierre), Anita Bartolucci (saleswoman), Gino Giuseppe (police commissioner), Marino Mase (traffic policeman), Bedy Moratti (dress shop owner), Dino Mele (police captain), Alessandro Perrella (detective), Quinto Parmeggiani (hotel waiter), Nadia Scarpitta (elderly lady at airport), Frederico Martignone (unknown), Maurizio Bonuglia (detective), Martina Tagliamento (unknown)
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Alone and Sad . . .
This Italian motion picture starring Elizabeth Taylor with a cameo by Andy Warhol has become a favorite of Elizabeth Taylor fans, even though it is filmed very different from the way Americans are accustomed to. The story is filled with intrigue, mystery and suspense . . . yet the pace is like floating down a lazy river in a slow row-boaton a quiet afternoon, giving us plenty time to imagine all sorts of things that might happen soon, and might be happening even as we watch, but the director's veil of crafty dialogue keeps us in suspense right up to the end. As the story begins Lise, played by Elizabeth Taylor, is going on vacation to Rome, and the mystery begins as soon as she hits the airport. Interpol is looking for her and following her wherever she goes. Police detectives are questioning every sales clerk and taxi driver that encounters Lise, and as our story slowly . . . very slowly moves ahead we are as much in the dark as we were before we started watching . . . but we just cannot look away . . . we must watch on to find out what the heck is happening with this lady of mystery. It may have something to do with terrorism and explosions and car bombs . . . something alluding to mid-East Israeli-Arab conflicts . . . but it probably isn't . . . then there is the small country that was toppled by a rebellion . . . although Lise encounters people on the edge of the conflict it doesn't look like she is involved in any way . . . but exactly what is her story? She mentions several times that she is looking for her perfect lover, but this may only be a flight of fancy . . . or maybe not. The story continues to slowly unfold as Lise does more very strange things, like burying her passport in the seat of a taxi and asking a policeman to kill her before driving away in a car she heisted from a would-be rapist. Dozens of seemingly unconnected events pass by our wondering eyes as we try to determine what is meaningful and what is not . . . maybe it is all meaningful and will all be tied together neatly at the end . . . . and maybe not . . . maybe the movie only exists to show us one of the most legendary actresses while she was still in the prime of her beauty and talents, and the artistry of Italian director Giuseppe Griffi . . . no . . . there is a startling and radical motive to all of Lise's actions . . . she is searching not for the perfect lover, but for . . . no, I cannot spoil the extremely controversial and surprising ending . . . I just can't do it. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy this very different show.
Andy Warhol holds the paperback book
Andy Warhol in the airport
Bedy Moratti and Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor meets Ian Bannen
Elizabeth Taylor meets Mona Washbourne
Elizabeth Taylor and Ian Bannen
Ian Bannen and Elizabeth Taylor
Mona Washbourne and Elizabeth Taylor