Post by MALCOLM XERXES™ on Aug 4, 2004 23:59:24 GMT -5
THU. AUG. 5/2004/24:05 E.S.T.
20 years ago today, MR. RICHARD BURTON, Commander of The British Empire, died of cerebral haemorrhage. He had tippled & smoked for most of his life, but I believe that had he not given up alchohol "Cold Turkey", COMM. RICHARD BURTON might yet have been with us today, continuing to work alongside such worthy personages as MR. PETER O'TOOLE.
COMM. BURTON was notorious for his boozing as well as for his stardom as an actor, but for me, he represents a Working Class lad made good, a bloke who managed to achieve the enviable position of being able to pick & choose from whatever Theatre & Film engagements that might be offered to him, & who also enjoyed the love of DAME ELIZABETH TAYLOR.
Today, as has been done for the past 2 decades, I shall be honouring his life & work by donning my frippery to partake of good drink, good food, &, if occasion demands it, good song. (It is no longer legal to smoke cigars in this city unless one stands outside!)
I had hoped that MR. JARED HARRIS might be able to join us this year in order to honour his father’s memory, MR. RICHARD HARRIS, & possibly to recount some exclusive anecdotes about his father’s friendship with COMM. BURTON, but once again, LACHESIS, ATROPOS & CLOTHO have deemed otherwise.
Ladies & Gentlemen, I propose a toast to a man who ought to have been raised to The Garter as SIR RICHARD BURTON for his many fine works which have advanced the cause & image of Britain over the decades in International Cinema.
Post by MALCOLM XERXES™ on Aug 5, 2005 9:09:32 GMT -5
FRI. AUG. 6/2004/14:20 E.S.T.
Thank you for taking up the hue & cry over a man whose like we shall not see again in this lifetime.
I think I shall re-watch my CLEOPATRA™ DVD, once again, in order to remind myself again of what a singular talent MR. RICHARD BURTON was.
Is that your favourite movie with him? I'm stuck between TAMING OF THE SHREW and THE COMEDIANS
CLEOPATRA™ is definitely in my Top 5 favourite RICHARD BURTON screen performances, & his exuberance as PETRUCHIO opposite DAME ELIZABETH TAYLOR in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW™ is matchless, but I must confess that THE COMEDIANS™ is not a film that I have watched several times over, or even once/year.
BECKET™ or THE HONOUR OF GOD™ is yet another fine, under-rated performance by Wales’s best-loved son.
Post by MALCOLM XERXES™ on Aug 6, 2005 12:28:52 GMT -5
Who's afraid of Virginia Wolf? That movie was almost too close to their real life.
A quintessential rogue Sir Richard Burton; he was either adored or despised by the public.
We need rogues to add a bit of notoriety and spice; Hollywood is too squeaky clean for my taste.
WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?™ is an undeniable Film achievement, particularly for DAME ELIZABETH, methought, since she took her screen image in an entirely different direction by embracing a character who was rather blowsy instead of glamourous, much as MS. BETTE DAVIS did in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?™. Both women’s acting improved greatly after those films, & their credibility in the eyes of critics was broadened to something greater than “just another pretty face”.
I've always had difficulty viewing it because of the characters' open attempts to humiliate each other publicly, for that is not the kind of relationship or marriage that I would ever find desirable, although I can understand how & why a person might find it difficult to leave such a situation once they found themselves in it.
I concur that COMMANDER RICHARD BURTON was “a quintessential rogue” who was well-loved, but I have difficulty with the idea that he was ever actually “despised by the public”, over & above the reaction to his open adultery with DAME ELIZABETH, & I submit that such came from Envy of him & his lifestyle more than anything to do with him as an individual.
“Hollywood is too squeaky clean” for you, eh? That is a Value Judgement I’ve never read or heard before. Please elaborate, if you would.
In the meantime, here's a far less "squeaky clean" view of THE SUPERFRIENDS™ :
Post by MALCOLM XERXES™ on Aug 7, 2005 9:50:19 GMT -5
fantastic news although it'll be too late for ya but my local PBS station is showing CLEOPATRA tonight!
Acknowledged, thanks for the intel. It's good to know that American viewers are still able to appreciate CLEOPATRA™ for the sheer magnificence that it is (due in no small part to COMM. BURTON!) Fortunately, I have it on DVD.
Last night, or rather - very early this morning, I returned from my first participation in what is commonly referred to by the participants as BURTON DAY.
24 years ago yesterday Wales' favourite son, a man that Malcolm correctly points out at the start of this thread should have been elevated to Knighthood; but settled gracefully for the title "Commander of the British Empire" (CBE), passed away.
For those of the floodlights and footlights crowd the talent of Richard Burton is both enviable and stunning. His voice being his greatest instrument, in a generation of actors who raised, set and re-raised the bar; while each amazing performance delivers something sadly lacking from modern day film - the craft of acting.
On the occasion of Burton's passing in 1984, Malcolm & a long time friend and fellow thespian RTW, began a tradition that continues uninterrupted these 24 years later. What begins at HY's restaurant is a night of commemoration, celebration, fine drink, good food and frequently song.
2005 was MX's last time participating - for shortly after he added himself to the list of talents removed from us far too soon. Yet RTW has continued the tradition, even though it has meant such inebriated ramblings have twice been solo adventures.
Last year, while commemorating the loss of a man who failed to introduce us to each other while alive, but brought us together by his passing, I committed to join RTW in BURTON DAY 2008.
It did not fail to live up to expectations. It was a warm and wonderful rambling remembrance of both Commander Burton and Malcolm Xerxes - a historical tour of both the city of Toronto and the life of a friendship. I sat and listened to a wonderfully woven organic tale with pops of intense storytelling, and somehow felt like someone lucky enough to be sitting at the table during "My Dinner With Andre".
And in turn contributed further subtext and context and back history to what I knew of Malcolm and of the events behind what we now call the Malcolm Crisis.
While some will sift through half information and then sit in judgment as though their opinion mattered, the rest of us continue to explore the details and allow the whole of their existence to total more than the sum of its individual parts. So it was with Commander Burton - a man whose individual moments may do little more than entertain, but whose sum total speak volumes to a life both hard and well lived; and cut short too soon.
To those that we shall not witness shuffle into infirmity, but who remain in our mind's eye at the peak of their potential, at the height of their game, at the apex of their talent. I salute the Immortals!
FRI. AUG. 5/2011/17:30 E.D.T. (Filed SAT. AUG. 6/2011/14:10 E.D.T.)
Yesterday marked the 27th year since MR. RICHARD BURTON, Commander of The British Empire, died of cerebral haemorrhage. It was also the 6th BURTON DAY without MX.
While Malcolm's long-time friend, and Burton Day co-conspirator, RTW continued the tradition alone for the first two years following the passing of our beloved TRADEMARKED friend, I'm pleased to report the number of us "Tripping the Night, Fan-Burton" last night has made it to 4.
And the Black Watch, if I may be able to expropriate that term, has shifted in tone somewhat, by having fresh ears for the stories, and fresh eyes for the tour, it was also rather more energized experience than in previous years, and positively energized at that. Seeming less the vigil it had leaned towards of late and and more the wake I've always felt such subjects deserved.
Indeed, we do seem to finally be making the transition from mourning the losses of such talents, to celebrating their lives and our witness of them - and yet all the while respecting the somberness of both absent friends and now, forever lost talents.
So while we shuffle our way through the rest of the "Dreary Season of Malcontent" we do so knowing that there will be peaks and valleys, dark clouds but spots of sunshine. Angst and absences, keenly felt but also smiles that creep on the sides from fond remembrances and boisterous dialogues of adventures past. Hearty expositions spoiled only by the realization that we shall not see such men walk this Earth again.
But then, that's the burden of longevity, isn't it?
Richard Burton, CBE died this day exactly 30 years ago.
Upon hearing this news Mr. Ian Anthony Malcolm (stage name: MALCOLM XERXES™) and Mr. RTW (actor/Welshman, who will no doubt call me on my choice of headliner title there) began a tradition of meeting for what, at best, can be described as a two person pub crawl mission and which, having heard many of the tales from sorties past, I put in the category of BARMAGEDDON.
Each year Burton day beheld different happenings, often hastily made Plan B’s in an attempt to repeat the events of previous years, and each nearly all earmarking the occasion like an episode of a cable TV series done in the style of the movie AFTER HOURS.
Following Malcolm's passing in 2005, RTW attempted to soldier on and this occurred for at least one year as a solo act, risking life and limb in downtown Toronto on a night falling either before, during, or after Caribana (or whatever ubiquitous nomenclature they've been forced to adopt now).
A couple of years after Malcontent’s own passing I joined RTW, who was gracious in allowing me to walk in the shadow of the now missing man. For those few hours I felt like the alternate reality me, a theatrical actor, a drinker, a part whose suit I badly fit, but as each year passed it became something to both dread and look forward to. And despite my historic dislike for requiems, drinking, and commemorations of death it was, from my perspective the street performance version of the 2nd act from MY FAVORITE YEAR.
For RTW it was a melancholic remembrance of both a simpler time; past battles in a life long war some mistook as a friendship, but which was in many ways stronger; and, if the Robin Williams film THINGS MAY COME has any insight, a way to give both Burton and Malcolm a moment to walk again upon this Earth in the pursuit of luxuries they both loved.
The last few years I’ve been pushing RTW to broaden the occasion, to, if you’ll pardon the term, breath new life into it. This has meant forcing the ill-fitting mantle of ‘date night’ on it. It resulted in a hardcore kneecapping of the traditions behind Burton day with spouses, for indeed when the goal is to get blind staggeringly drunk while both forgetting and remembering the dead in the back alleys of the largest urban center in Canada, the least conducive thing to such a crucible is bringing your wife along.
RTW was very gracious both years, but last year, as the night wore on, and the wee hours tempted public mischief charges in the grand dame of hogtown’s hotels, as the witching hour struck, there was, in his eyes, the ghost of Burton day’s past. The sorrowful regret that these adventures of youthful men had been forced into the suits of civilization but that, given a vine rope, and a monkey, the beast of Edgar Rice Burrough’s TARZAN still wished to yell, swing and fight Crocodiles in the jungles. And should be allowed to.
So while I concede I was most probably projecting my own feelings onto him at that point, it felt as though there was an unspoken desire this be the last time the veneer of society was put on the Great Ape of Burton day and I knew then that ‘we’ would not be joining him for 2013.
And while the calendar and my job are not always kind toward such pursuits, never mind the protests of both my liver and recovery system, as the date approached and I didn’t hear from RTW I felt like it was a silent, passive plea by him to avoid being put in the position of compromise, for indeed Burton day cannot truly honour the spirit of war’s departed while leashed to a different master.
So much as I wish now that I had booked tomorrow off. Much as I wish I’d pursued this gathering – even without the ball and chains of respectable, married men – instead I sit here, still early by Burton Day reckoning, and hope the best of nights for RTW. May it be dreary, weary, and miserable. May it be haunted, humbling and hopeless. And may the spirits of both men, giants in their own rights, walk with you, guide you and keep you safe.
And in days to come, may you bask in the foggy remembrance of a Burton day done as it should be – full heathen ahead!
RICHARD BURTON (10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984) was a Welsh actor. He was nominated seven times for an Academy Award – for My Cousin Rachel (1952), The Robe (1953), Becket (1964), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) and Equus (1977) – six of which were for Best Actor in a Leading Role, without ever winning. He was a recipient of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Tony Awards for Best Actor. Although never trained as an actor, Burton was at one time the highest-paid actor in Hollywood.
Burton remains closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. The couple's turbulent relationship was rarely out of the news.