Millionaire Taylor, slowly dying in her isolated palace on an island near Sardinia, spends most of her days swilling booze, popping pills, and swearing at her odd array of servants: a frigid secretary, a black giant, a sadistic dwarf, and sitar-playing Indian musicians. When wandering poet
Burton stumbles onto the island one day, Taylor insists upon his removal until she learns that he is known as a somewhat mystical figure, nick-named the "Angel of Death" by the elite literary set. She then uses the poet as a plaything, a sort of confidante with whom she can discuss personal
philosophy before she passes on into the great beyond. As he watches Taylor's life wither away, Burton finds solace in the jewelry and fine brandy of the woman to whom he has acted as friend, lover, and "saviour."
Regarded as one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history, BOOM! was intended to be a shot-in-the-arm for the sagging careers of Mr. and Mrs. Burton but turned out to be yet another example of their self-indulgent, egocentric, pretentious "star" vehicles. Based on a rather poor Tennessee Williams
play, "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore" that was a failure on the New York stage, BOOM! is probably the perfect film in which to analyze the ability of two actors capable of brilliance who instead chose to make utter fools out of themselves. With ridiculous treatments of "big" thematic
ideas like death, Christ's teachings, decadence, and the meaning of life, the film borders on unintentional comedy. Director Losey, whose imaginative visual style and continued treatment of odd subject matter have earned him a distinct cult following, appears to have been completely lost on this
project. Known to have been intimidated by his stars, Losey's personality can only be seen in an occasional flourish of composition or camera movement. The one true delight in BOOM! is Noel Coward's brief role as Taylor's homosexual gossip pal, the Witch of Capri, a role originally written for a
woman. However, even the great Coward cannot save this unbelievable disaster.
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