Blu-ray Review: Boom!

Under normal circumstances there’s a massive warning to never venture into the bonus features until you’ve watched the movie on a Blu-ray. You don’t want to ruin the viewing experience by seeing a making of feature that revealed all the big secrets. The bonus features give a context after you’ve had a chance to watch the film (or rewatch it) unencumbered eyes. The biggest mistake you can ever make is to immediately watch a new to you film with the commentary track. Throw that warning away when you get Boom! The first time you watch the movie, you’ll want to click on the commentary track with John Waters (director of Pink Flamingos and Hairspray) and feel like you’re watching the film with your new pal.

John Waters has been championing Boom! for decades. He’s done special screenings of the film. He’s written about the neglected flick. He’s declared that if plays it for a person and they don’t enjoy the film, he won’t be friends or lovers with them. Odds are that if you watched the film in the 21st Century, it’s because John Waters made you curious about the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor film. He has become as much a part of the film as Noel Coward. And now with his commentary track, Water becomes essential to the viewing experience.

Liz and Dick were the hottest duo in films during the ’60s. Sure their Cleopatra is considered a massive budget disaster, but it was also the biggest ticket seller of 1963. Their version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe was also a massive success and had a smaller budget. They teamed up with Shakespeare for Franco Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew. So why not let the duo tackle Tennessee Williams’ The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore? Liz had turned in an iconic performance on Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The thing is Milk Train was underwhelming when it arrived on Broadway and lasted on 69 performances. Tallulah Bankhead (Lifeboat) and Tab Hunter (John Waters’ Polyester) were the leads in the tale of a dying wealthy woman and a young man that sneaks on her estate. Williams adapted his play for the screen. Joseph Losey (The Servant) was hired to direct. And to to the relief of the guy at movie theaters in charge of putting up the letters on the marquee, the title was changed to Boom!

Flora ‘Sissy’ Goforth (Taylor) is on her island estate in the Mediterranean. She’s working on her autobiography when Chris Flanders (Burton) unexpectedly drops by. By unexpectedly, he’s forced to swim onto the island and gets attacked by Goforth’s guard dogs. But after he survives that welcome, Flanders gets under the skin of the prickly Goforth. There’s is a twisted relationship that blossoms between the two. Is Flanders really an angel of death for the ailing Goforth. Will she get her way with him?

The location adds so much to the performances. Cinematographer Douglas Douglas Slocombe (Raiders of the Lost Ark) frames up the glamour of the sets, wardrobe and stars. The score from John Barry (Goldfinger) gives a sense of romance and local color. Boom! is a beautiful film with stars that Hollywood no longer produces. Getting to watch the film and listen to John Waters adds to the depth of Boom! He speaks of the one time he met Elizabeth Taylor and her reaction when he told her that he loved Boom! She thought he was making fun of her until she realized he was serious. Watching the film with Water, lets you experinece his passion for Boom! so you can appreciate it on a deeper level.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer is lush and makes Liz Taylor dazzle. Audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Mono. The mix lets you hear their lines, Barry’s music and the waves of the Sea. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary With filmmaker John Waters is essential to the viewing experience. He doesn’t talk all over the film. But gives all he has learned about the production and his encounter with Elizabeth Taylor.

The Sound Of A Bomb: Contextualizing Boom! (19:28) has film Critic/Author Alonso Duralde talk about the movie. He found out about it from a book on expensive flops. He talks about how Liz and Dick were so drunk while making the film that they kept wanting to buy the house even though it was a set.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:21) sets it up as feisty love story. This is when the movie was just called Boom.

Photo Gallery Color (4:34) has a lot of photos of Liz showing off her wardrobe in the film.

Photo Gallery Black and White (4:50) are stills from the scenes including Losey behind the camera.

Posters and Promotion Gallery (3:51) shows that a lot of the publicity featured the image of Burton about to slap Taylor in the face. Some of the stuff is from John Waters’ collection.

Shout! Factory presents Boom!. Directed by Joseph Losey. Screenplay by: Tennessee Williams. Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Noël Coward & Michael Dunn. Rated: PG. Running Time: 113 minutes. Released: May 28, 2019.

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