Monday, February 1, 2010

BUtterfield 8 (1960)

This is the second in a three part seris on movies made from John O'Hara novels.


Gloria Wandrous . . . . . Elizabeth Taylor
Weston Liggett . . . . . Laurence Harvey

Steve Carpenter . . . . . Eddie Fisher
Emily Liggett . . . . . Dina Merrill
Mrs. Wandrous . . . . . Mildred Dunnock
Mrs. Thurber . . . . . Betty Field
Bingham Smith . . . . . Jeffrey Lynn
Happy . . . . . Kay Medford
Norma . . . . . Susan Oliver
Dr. Tredman . . . . . George Voskovec
Clerk . . . . . Virginia Downing
Mrs. Jescott . . . . . Carmen Matthews
Anderson . . . . . Whitfield Connor


Director - Daniel Mann
Screenplay - Charles Schnee
Screenplay - John Michael Hayes
Producer - Pandro S. Berman

Associate Producer - Kathryn Hereford
Source Material (from novel) - John O'Hara
Director of Photography - Joseph Ruttenberg
Director of Photography - Charles Harten
Music - Bronislau Kaper
Editor - Ralph E. Winters

Costume Design - Helen Rose

Company Info:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) - Domestic Theatrical Distributor
MGM Home Entertainment - Domestic Video Distributor
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) – Studio

Casting Notes:

Elizabeth Taylor could start Cleopatra (1963) for a $1 million salary, she was legally bound to finish her MGM contract by doing this film, which she hated, for her standard $125,000 salary

When filming was finished, Elizabeth attended a screening of the rough cut of the film. After she watched the movie she scrawled "No Sale" using lipstick on Producer Pandro Berman's office door.

The book is based on a real incident. On June 8, 1931, the dead body of a young woman named Starr Faithfull--no seriously, her name was Starr Faithfull--was found on Long Beach, Long Island.  Subsequent reporting uncovered a life of easy morals and much time spent in speakeasies and such piquant details as her childhood molestation by a former mayor of Boston.  Despite rumors of political motives for her murder and a supposed secret diary, no one was ever charged in her death.

O'Hara recreates her as Gloria Wandrous . The film begins with party girl/model Gloria (Elizabeth Taylor) waking from a night of partying. Her married lover (Laurence Harvey) is shown entering an elevator, going to work. He is separated from his wealthy wife (Emily) Dina Merrill. He is at a crossroads in his life, stay in his current job (at a company owned by his wife's family), or start over as a lawyer. Gloria is also at a turning point. She falls for Wes Liggett.

I forgot to mention that throughout the film, she calls "Butterfield 8" (a telephone answering service)to check her phone messages. She also checks in at her home. She lives with her mother and is gone for days. Her mother thinks that she is just a model, and believes anything that Gloria tells her.

There is more drama. but I do not want to spoil it for you.

Helen Rose was the costume designer. She is best known for creating Princess Grace's wedding dress. There are several Fur Coats and the female cast members mostly wear body hugging wiggle dresses.



Best Actress
- Elizabeth Taylor - 1960 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences



Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama - Elizabeth Taylor – 1960 Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Best Color Cinematography - Charles Harten - 1960 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Best Color Cinematography - Joseph Ruttenberg - 1960 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Elizabeth became deathly ill about a month before the Oscar Telecast. The Doctors did not think she would live, but she pulled through.


There is a bar/restaurant called Butterfield 8 in NYC. The name BUtterfield 8 was inspired by a list of old Manhattan telephone prefixes that were used to place calls in NYC up until the 1960's (Butterfield 8) was the neighborhood prefix for the NYC location).This deco-inspired den of nostalgia conjures much of the charm of its namesake film. Here is the link- 


Gloria to her mother- "I was the slut of all times,"
Weston to Gloria- "You're a joke, a dirty joke from one end of this town to the other,'' he sneers at her.


The movie is set in 1950's. The book is set in the early 1930's.

Continuity: During the car chase scene at the end, there are cars driving behind Liggett, visible through the rear window from inside the car. When the shot changes to a view of both cars on the highway, there is no-one behind him.

Review/Final Thoughts:
Yes, the movie is trashy, but it's also entertaining. Watch it for the clothes. LOL. The movie was unusually frank for a film that was released in 1960. It also gives you a feel for Manhattan at that time. Elizabeth Taylor is in her prime. She never looked better. She's very convincing as the bad girl about town in love with a married man. Despite all of the problems on the set, she was terrific in the movie.