name = BUtterfield 8
caption = Original film poster
Pandro S. Berman
John O'Hara(novel) John Michael Hayes Charles Schnee
Elizabeth Taylor Laurence Harvey
cinematography = Charles Harten
editing = Ralph E. Winters
released = flagicon|USA
November 4, 1960
runtime = 109 minutes
language = English
amg_id = 1:7678
imdb_id = 0053622
"BUtterfield 8" is a 1960
MGM filmdirected by Daniel Mann, starring Elizabeth Taylorand Laurence Harvey. The screenplay was adapted by John Michael Hayesand Charles Schneefrom the 1935 novel by John O'Hara.
The film's unconventional title (capitalized "B" and "U") derives from the pattern of old
telephone exchange namesin the United States. Prior to the advent of digital technology, telephone exchanges were named instead of being numbered. BUtterfield 8 (BU8 or 288) was the name of the exchange that provided service to ritzy precincts of Manhattan's Upper East Side. This exchange refers to the characters "B", "U", and "8" of the telephone rotary dial. A modern telephone number would use 2-8-8 rather than BUtterfield 8.
Unlike the plot of the novel in which the protagonist is a
call girlposing as a model, the movie casts Elizabeth Tayloras Gloria Wandrous, a promiscuous fashion model who falls in love with Weston Liggett ( Laurence Harvey), the hard drinking son of a working class family who has married into money. Their tumultuous relationship then engulfs their loved ones and ends in tragedy for Gloria but hints at redemption for Weston.
Gloria Wandrous wakes up in wealthy executive Weston Liggett's apartment and finds Liggett has left her $250 dollars. Insulted by the money which she never takes from men, Gloria, whose dress is torn, takes Liggett'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 Liggett 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 girlfriend 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 Liggett takes the train to the countryside where his wife 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 father's 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, Liggett returns home and, finding the lipstick and money, places a call to Gloria, explaining the money was for her dress, which he had torn, and which needed replacing.
Later that night during a date with Gloria, Liggett 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, Liggett 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 middle-aged female ex-vaudevillian called Happy. After sleeping together, Liggett and Gloria decide to explore the relationship further.
Days later, Norma finds the mink coat in musician 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 Liggett, 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 Liggett and Gloria return to the city, Ligget admits that he is married. Gloria, far from being surprised, thanks Liggett 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 Liggett has cured her of her need for promiscuity, but Tredman suggests it might not be the complete solution. She then rushes to Liggett's apartment building with the mink coat to return it, but seeing his elegant wife Emily in the entryway, leaves in shame.
Meanwhile, Liggett asks Bing for a job at the law firm and returns home to find Emily has noticed that the mink is gone. Liggett 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. Gloria visits Happy, who relates that her own wild and promiscuous life in her youth has brought her nothing but pain and has led her to a depressing dead end. When Gloria finds Liggett 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 Liggett 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 goes to her friend Steve's apartment, and laments that she feels she has earned the mink coat she is wearing, every thread and fur pelt, with all her years of reckless and rampant promiscuity, and she feels that having it makes her a prostitute. She then recounts that when she was 13 years old, Major Hartley, a friend of her widowed mother, had repeatedly raped her while her mother was away for a week. 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 Liggett 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 at Steve's apartment the next morning and finds Gloria asleep on Steve's couch, Steve calmly asks Norma to marry him.
When she gets back 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, Liggett drives until he spots her car at a café along the highway. Liggett 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 sarcastically, Gloria speeds away. Liggett 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 Liggett 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.
Elizabeth Tayloras Gloria Wandrous
Laurence Harveyas Weston Liggett
* Eddie Fisher as Steve Carpenter
Dina Merrillas Emily Liggett
Mildred Dunnockas Mrs. Wandrous
Betty Fieldas Fanny Thurber
Jeffrey Lynnas Bingham Smith
Kay Medfordas Happy
Susan Oliveras Norma
George Voskovecas Dr. Tredman
Parts of this film were filmed on
City Island, Bronx, New York, a nautical community where many films are shot.
Elizabeth Taylor and her then-husband Eddie Fisher hated the film, referring to it as 'Butterball Four'. [ Fisher, Eddie with David Fisher, "Been There, Done That", New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.]
It won the
Academy Award for Best Actress(Elizabeth Taylor) and was nominated for Best Cinematography, Color for 1960. It was also nominated for the Best Actress - Drama Golden Globe for the same year's releases.
*imdb title|id=0053622|title=BUtterfield 8
*amg title|id=1:7678|title=BUtterfield 8
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