Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
The spectacle of Elizabeth Taylor growing older and more beautiful continues to amaze the population. The other night at the Esquire Theater there were so many gasps and whispers about her costumes, her figure and various unprintable lines of her dialog, that she proved all over again that a few real movie stars still exist.
Elizabeth has taken to playing sluts lately, maybe because that is more relaxing, and she turns up in "Hammersmith Is Out" as a short-order waitress who makes her own deal with the devil. She bears his child, in fact, and it hardly needs reporting that when Liz Taylor bears the devil's child, she doesn't get all fainty-eyed like Mia Farrow. She just looks pregnant and sexy. It's a girl, by the way, 8 pounds 11 ounces.
The devil "himself is played by Richard Burton, an inmate in a mental institution who whispers beguiling promises into the ears of Beau Bridges: "I will make you rich and strong...strong and rich...get me out of here." Bridges does, mainly because he's been down the road to have a cup of coffee at Elizabeth Taylor's dinette, and he can see he's going to need the devil's help to make off with her.
"Hammersmith is Out" is a weird, bizarre, funny movie, directed by that peculiar genius Peter Ustinov (who also appears as the good doctor who runs the asylum). It is a fantasy but it doesn't have soft edges and a too-stylized visual approach like so many fantasies. It's more of a factual report of what happens when the devil gets behind a dumb but likable kid who's easy to manipulate.