The Corner

Culture

Liz ’n’ Garbo, Et Al.

Elizabeth Taylor (left) in 1955, and Greta Garbo in 1939 (Taylor: Dr. Macro / Wikimedia; Garbo: Clarence Bull / Wikimedia)

Impromptus today begins with a casting controversy and ends with the American vernacular. In between are the Afghan War, Donald Trump, the Detroit Lions, and plenty more. I would like to give you a footnote or two on the casting controversy.

Gal Gadot, the Israeli stunner, has been cast to play Cleopatra in a movie. Some people are upset about this, believing that the role should go to a woman “of color.” Cleopatra herself was a Greek princess, ruling in Alexandria, but leave that aside.

In 2016, I wrote an essay about identity politics and art: “Killing Aida.” Cleopatra came into play, because someone had gone after Elizabeth Taylor, saying that the actress should not have been allowed to play that ancient beauty in the 1963 movie. I said that Cleo and Liz may well have looked alike — “not that it matters much when you are talking about art.”

Well, here’s what I want to say here on the Corner. I once asked Pat Buckley (Bill’s wife), “Who is the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?” She said Elizabeth Taylor. She also told a story about Garbo.

One day, Pat went to the doctor’s office, and there was Garbo. In the waiting room. Pat stared at her a bit, as who could not? Indignant, Garbo turned her back on her. Pat apologized, saying that she was simply admiring the lady’s great beauty.

But here’s the thing: The wall toward which Garbo had turned was mirrored. So one could see Garbo regardless. She had not succeeded in being alone.

Another tidbit, regarding Garbo and National Review? Our David Pryce-Jones once played tennis with her in the nude. That is, David was clothed, but Garbo was topless. You can read about it in P-J’s memoirs, Fault Lines.

Beat that, as WFB would say.

P.S. When I was much younger, Antony and Cleopatra was my favorite Shakespeare play, more or less. I felt slightly sheepish about this, although I am confident in my opinions (all too). Then I read that A&C was also the favorite play of Samuel Schoenbaum, the venerable Shakespeare scholar (1927–96). Which made me smile.

Most Popular

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Kavanaugh Court

If Justice Barrett votes as her mentor Justice Scalia did, she will be part of an ascendant conservative majority on the Supreme Court. What kinds of decisions can we expect from this majority? Short answer: Ask Brett Kavanaugh. Contrary to how journalists frame each seat change on the Court, comparing the new ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Kavanaugh Court

If Justice Barrett votes as her mentor Justice Scalia did, she will be part of an ascendant conservative majority on the Supreme Court. What kinds of decisions can we expect from this majority? Short answer: Ask Brett Kavanaugh. Contrary to how journalists frame each seat change on the Court, comparing the new ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Some Counterfactual Thinking

Election Day is one week away. Can you believe it? On the menu today: contemplating what would be different, and what would be the same, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg had retired in 2013 instead of staying on the Court until her death earlier this year; a couple of flubbed words on the campaign trail; yes, people really ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Some Counterfactual Thinking

Election Day is one week away. Can you believe it? On the menu today: contemplating what would be different, and what would be the same, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg had retired in 2013 instead of staying on the Court until her death earlier this year; a couple of flubbed words on the campaign trail; yes, people really ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Whose Seat?

Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. And I think there are two little things to say about it. The first is that we very likely have in Barrett the true successor to Antonin Scalia on the Court. Barrett clerked for Scalia and her articulation of his philosophy is probably the most faithful on the court. Justices ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Whose Seat?

Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. And I think there are two little things to say about it. The first is that we very likely have in Barrett the true successor to Antonin Scalia on the Court. Barrett clerked for Scalia and her articulation of his philosophy is probably the most faithful on the court. Justices ... Read More