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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 18:30 GMT
Burton's last laugh over unseen footage
Richard Burton with his two-times wife Elizabeth Taylor
Actors Burton and Taylor were the toast of Hollywood
Unseen footage of actor Richard Burton is to be given its first screening as part of a month-long tribute to the screen legend.

The Welsh celluloid star was mysteriously dropped from filming on Laughter In The Dark in 1969 with just a few days of roll shot.

Now the story, based on a novel by Lolita writer Vladmir Nabokov, is finally being aired at the Bradford Film Festival.


This fragment is from a time when he was still capable of brilliance

Film museum
Ten of Burton's movies are being shown in the first ever retrospective homage to the actor, which forms part of the festival's season on unfinished films.

Renowned for a commanding screen presence over his 36-year career, Burton was sacked from the Laughter In The Dark set just days in to filming.

Director Tony Richardson replaced the Welshman with screen stalwart Nicol Williamson for the part of Sir Edward More, depriving him of a role alongside compatriot San Phillips, Peter Bowles, Kate O'Toole and Anna Karina.

The few surviving minutes of footage were rescued and are now in the possession of author and film historian Kevin Brownlow.

The movie follows a wealthy, married man whose fascination with a young girl backfires at each turn.

Varied choice

The miner's son from Pontrhydyfen never quite achieved Oscar accolade status, despite seven nominations between 1953 and 1978 for films including Equus and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

In the latter film, he co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor, whom he married and divorced twice.

He died of a brain haemorrhage in 1984 at the age of 58. He was living in Geneva, Switzerland, with his fourth wife Sally Burton.

Sally Burton
Fourth wife Sally Burton re-discovered one of the works
The festival at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford runs from 8 March to 23 March and also takes in Look Back In Anger, The Night of the Iguana, Hamlet and eight other productions.

Screenings of Sam Peckinpah, Walt Disney and James Bond movies also form part of the festival.

The project constitutes an unusual delve into the world of half-finished screen gems.

A museum spokesman said: "Burton was one of our greatest screen actors.

"This fragment, from a time in his troubled career when he was still capable of brilliance, gives a glimpse of what would have been a very different film to the one Tony Richardson eventually made."

Innovation re-discovered

He told BBC News Online the project would give film fans an idea of how Laughter In The Dark might have turned out had Burton remained on set.

The homage is also showing an unique stage recording of Burton's Broadway appearance as Hamlet.

He had ordered all prints of director John Gielgud's paired-down, modern production to be destroyed after being shown in New York in 1964 on Electronovision, an early precursor to videotape.

But widow Sally Burton re-discovered the recording - the only footage of the actor on stage - in the 90s and donated it to the British Film Institute.

Fragments of Marilyn Monroe in Something's Got to Give, Orson Welles's Don Quixote and test footage of Hitchcock's Kaleidoscope also feature in Bradford.

Born in 1925, Burton's real name was Richard Walter Jenkins.

He took his professional name from an old school teacher, Philip Burton - a great influence on his life.

See also:

03 Dec 01 | Wales
Burton diary returned to BBC
10 Apr 00 | Wales
Anger at claim Burton was gay
09 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Dame Elizabeth 'back in hospital'
16 May 00 | Entertainment
Elizabeth Taylor: A life in pictures
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