Cast & Crew
Call girl Gloria Wandrous wakes up in wealthy executive Weston Liggett's apartment and finds Wes has left her $250 dollars. Insulted by the money which she never takes from men, Gloria, whose dress is torn, takes Wes's wife Emily's mink coat to cover herself and scrawls "No Sale" in lipstick on the mirror, but then orders her telephone exchange, Butterfield 8, to put Wes through if he should call. Later, Gloria visits her childhood friend, pianist Steve Carpenter, in his Greenwich Village apartment, where he chastises Gloria for wasting her life on one-night stands, but agrees to ask his girl friend Norma to lend her a dress. After Gloria leaves, Norma jealously gives Steve an ultimatum: He must choose between her and Gloria. Later that day, while Wes takes the train to the countryside where Emily is caring for her mother, he speaks with his friend, Bingham Smith, who tells him to end his adulterous relationships and return to Bing's law firm instead of working for Emily's family chemical business. Later that day, when Gloria lies to her doting mother Annie, claiming to have spent the night at Norma's, neighbor Fanny Thurber insinuates that Gloria spends her nights in less than virtuous circumstances. That evening, Wes returns home and, finding the lipstick and money, places a call to Gloria, explaining the money was for the torn dress. Later that night during a date with Gloria, Wes advises her to ask a high price for her lovemaking talents, prompting Gloria to jam her stiletto heel into his shoe. She explains that she does not take payment for her dates, but prefers to make her living modeling, claiming that she has been hired to advertise the dress she is wearing at three bistros that evening. Drawn by her fierce personality, Wes follows Gloria to the bistros. After watching Gloria flirt with dozens of men at several clubs, he drives her to Happy's, a run-down motel owned by Wes's middle-aged ex-lover Happy. After sleeping together, Wes and Gloria decide to explore the relationship further. Days later, Norma finds the mink coat in Steve's closet and complains about Gloria. Steve tries to explain that after Gloria's father died, Steve looked after her like a brother, but Norma asserts that she does not want to continue their relationship with Gloria in their lives. While Wes and Gloria disappear together for five days, Emily's mother suggests that her daughter divorce Wes, but Emily thinks he is frustrated by the life her family has handed him and insists she will wait until he develops a life of his own. After Wes and Gloria return to the city, Wes admits that he is married. Gloria, far from being surprised, thanks Wes for the respect he showed her during their trip by calling her by her real name instead of "honey" or "dollface." Later that night, when Gloria tells her mother the truth about being a "slut," Annie slaps her. Gloria, grateful that her mother has finally heard the truth, tells her that she is in love with only one man. Gloria visits her psychiatrist Dr. Tredman and insists that her relationship with Wes has cured her of her need for promiscuity, but Tredman suggests it might not be the complete solution. She then rushes to Wes's apartment building with the mink coat to return it, but seeing the elegant Emily in the entryway, leaves in shame. Meanwhile, Wes asks Bing for a job at the law firm and returns home to find Emily has noticed that the mink is gone. Wes nervously makes excuses and rushes out to search for Gloria at her regular clubs, but finds instead that he is just one in the "fraternity" of Gloria's ex-lovers. Meanwhile, Gloria visits Happy, an ex-vaudeville star, who suggests that her own highlife has been a depressing dead end. When Gloria finds Wes at a bistro the following evening, he launches into a series of drunken insults and taunts her, saying "honey, baby, dollface, kid." Gloria then drives Wes to his apartment building where Emily, spotting them from a window above, watches as her husband throws the coat at Gloria, saying that he would never give the tainted object back to his wife. Gloria, now wearing the mink, later laments to Steve that she has earned the coat, every thread and fur pelt, for all her hours prostituting herself to strangers. She then recounts that Annie's boyfriend Hartley had repeatedly raped her when she was thirteen while her mother was away. Even though Gloria felt intense shame for having enjoyed the attention, she subsequently made a life out of repeating the incident. The next day, when a defeated Wes asks Emily for a divorce, she inquires if he is going to Gloria, reminding him that he left her the previous evening. He explains that he loves Gloria so much that the thought of her deserting him drove him into furious rage. When Norma arrives the next morning and finds Gloria asleep on Steve's couch, he calmly asks Norma to marry him. Later at home, Gloria tells her mother she is starting a new life in Boston, gives the mink to Fanny and leaves in her sports car. Finding out that Gloria is on the road to Boston, Wes drives until he spots her car at a café along the highway. Wes tries to apologize to Gloria by asking her to marry him, but Gloria insists that she is "branded" by his insults. He convinces her to go to Happy's to talk in private, but when Happy greets her with scorn, Gloria speeds away. Wes drives after her, trying to catch up to her increasingly fast pace. While turning to see him follow her, Gloria misses the sign for road construction and hurtles over an embankment to her death. When Wes returns to the city, he tells Emily about Gloria's death and announces that he is leaving to "find his pride" and will someday return to see if it has any value to either of them
Leon B. Stevens
Pandro S. Berman
Pandro S. Berman
John Clarke Bowman
George W. Davis
J. C. Delaney
Charles K. Hagedon
John Michael Hayes
Ralph E. Winters
BUtterfield 8 - BUtterfield 8
After many years at MGM, Taylor was nearing the end of her contract (she had three years to go). She was eager to get free, so she could accept 20th-Century Fox's unprecedented offer of a million dollars to star in Cleopatra (1963). Hoping to capitalize on Taylor's sexual notoriety, MGM dusted off a property they'd owned for years, and made Taylor an offer she couldn't refuse: make BUtterfield 8 (1960), and they'd end her contract with it.
John O'Hara's 1935 novel BUtterfield 8 was based on the life and death of a real-life call girl named Starr Faithfull. Because of the restrictions of the Production Code, the novel had never been filmed, and even in 1959 some changes had to be made before it could be filmed. The film makes the call girl a "model," although it makes it clear she's a nymphomaniac and an alcoholic. The story focuses on her doomed affair with a married man, and grants them both a sort of redemption through the story's tragic outcome.
Taylor's conditions for agreeing to make BUtterfield 8 included shooting the film in New York, having Helen Rose design her costumes and Sydney Guilaroff do her hair, and giving husband Eddie Fisher a supporting role as her platonic pal. Fisher's performance was derided by the critics, and earned him an "award" from the Harvard Lampoon as the year's worst supporting actor. However, there were strong performances by Laurence Harvey as the married lover, and Mildred Dunnock as Taylor's mother.
Taylor may have given in to MGM's demands, and she worked hard to give the character some depth, but she was vocal in her distaste for BUtterfield 8's subject matter. "I hate the girl I play, " she told the press. She was even more outspoken to studio bosses. "This is the most pornographic script I have ever read," she raged. Author John O'Hara was sanguine about Taylor's remarks. "The cracks Miss Taylor has taken at my novel gave me some bruises which were healed by the MGM accounting department with their tender, loving royalty checks," O'Hara said. Taylor asked writer friends to make script changes, which she claimed as her own. But the film's producers rejected them without even looking at them.
The public, titillated by Taylor's own notoriety and BUtterfield 8's provocative subject matter, made the film a hit. BUtterfield 8 cost $2.5 million, and grossed $9 million domestically. Taylor's reaction to the box-office success was succinct: "I still say it stinks." And most critics dismissed the film as "glossy balderdash" (Alexander Walker), and "hackneyed" (the New York Times). But Taylor's performance also earned a few positive reviews and some contemporary critics consider her complex portrayal of the doomed woman one of her best.
After finishing production on BUtterfield 8, Taylor, freed of her MGM obligations, flew to London to begin work on Cleopatra. The production was trouble-plagued from the start, culminating with Taylor's near-fatal illness just a few weeks before the Oscars. With the scarlet woman now the subject of worldwide sympathy, the other best-actress nominees knew their chances were slim. From her home in Switzerland, Deborah Kerr let it be known that she thought Taylor should win. From her home in Greece, Melina Mercouri considered asking the other nominees to join her in withdrawing from the race in favor of Taylor. On location in Japan, Shirley MacLaine cancelled plans to return to Hollywood for the ceremony. The only other nominee besides Taylor who bothered to show up for the ceremony was Greer Garson, who was a presenter. A frail Taylor, her tracheotomy scar clearly visible above her Dior gown, accepted her Oscar with a whispered thank-you. Over the subsequent decades, Taylor would continue to grab headlines and awards, including a second Oscar for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). But in spite of later careers as a political wife, perfume tycoon, and AIDS activist, Elizabeth Taylor, long retired from the screen, remains the ultimate movie star.
Director: Daniel Mann
Producer: Pandro S. Berman
Screenplay: Charles Schnee, John Michael Hayes, based on the novel by John O'Hara
Editor: Ralph E. Winters
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Urie McCleary, set decoration Gene Callahan, J.C. Delaney
Music: Bronislau Kaper
Principal Cast: Elizabeth Taylor (Gloria Wandrous), Laurence Harvey (Weston Liggett), Eddie Fisher (Steve Carpenter), Dina Merrill (Emily Liggett), Mildred Dunnock (Mrs. Wandrous), Betty Field (Mrs. Fanny Thurber), Jeffrey Lynn (Bingham Smith), Kay Medford (Happy), Susan Oliver (Norma).
C-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.
by Margarita Landazuri
BUtterfield 8 - BUtterfield 8
Mama, face it: I was the slut of all time.- Gloria Wandrous
Vulgarity has its uses.- Mrs. Jescott
Gloria's car was a Sunbeam Alpine
Before '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.
The opening credits begin: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents John O'Hara's Butterfield 8." O'Hara's novel Butterfield 8 was in part based on the real-life 1931 mysterious death of young socialite Starr Faithfull. O'Hara's protagonist is a semi-professional call girl using the Manhattan Butterfield Exchange for her phone service, while the film's "Gloria Wandrous" was changed to an amateur call girl because she does not take money from the men she is with. Portions of the film were shot on location in and around New York City, including the areas of Greenwich Village, Fifth Avenue, Stony Point, Elmsford, Larchmont and Long Island; however, a December 3, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news items notes that the production was moved to Los Angeles after Elizabeth Taylor suffered pneumonia during production. Production on the film was interrupted by the Screen Actors Guild strike which lasted from 7 March-18 April 1960.
According to a biography of Taylor, the actress protested playing the role; however, M-G-M, to which she was under contract, insisted that she star in the film before releasing her to star in the Twentieth Century-Fox production of Cleopatra. Taylor finally accepted the part, but under the condition that actor and popular singer Eddie Fisher be given a role. Recently widowed by the death of her husband, producer Michael Todd, who died in a plane crash in March 1958, Taylor began an affair with Fisher, who had been a family friend. They married in 1959 after Fisher divorced actress Debbie Reynolds. A November 6, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Eddie Albert was originally considered for the role that Fisher was finally assigned. According to a December 2, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, Jeanne Cooper was tested for a role, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
Following an Academy Award nomination for her performance in 1959 film Suddenly, Last Summer in the spring of 1960, Taylor signed the contract to star in Cleopatra in July 1960. The scheduled January 1961 shooting on location in England was postponed until spring 1961 due to Taylor contracting viral pneumonia in March. Within days, Taylor was forced to have an emergency tracheotomy, which saved her life, but left her in a coma. For days the press reported that Taylor was near death, however, she slowly recuperated while Cleopatra was rescheduled for shooting in balmy Rome.
When Taylor and Fisher returned to Hollywood and attended the April 17th Academy Awards ceremony, Taylor received the award for Best Actress for her performance in Butterfield 8, which she accepted in her weakened state. The award was perceived by many critics to be a "sympathy" vote not only for her recovery, but also for Taylor's many past performances. After shooting finally began on Cleopatra in January 1962, Taylor and co-star Richard Burton began an affair which ended her marriage with Fisher by the spring 1962. Butterfield 8 was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Color Cinematography.
Released in United States Fall November 16, 1960
Released in United States November 1960
Released in United States October 1960
Based on the novel "Butterfield 8" by John O'Hara (New York, 1935).
Released in USA on video.
Released in United States October 1960 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (On the Verge: Hollywood and the End of Censorship, 1960-1970) October 18-31, 1996.)
Released in United States November 1960
Released in United States Fall November 16, 1960