Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cinema With Style Third Edition: Elephant Walk

Elizabeth Taylor replaced Vivien Leigh in Elephant Walk (1954) after Miss Leigh was hospitalized for bipolar disorder and side effects from improperly administered shock therapy before the film wrapped. If you watch very closely, you can still see Vivien Leigh in some of the long shots that were shot in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) that could not be re-filmed on a Hollywood soundstage.

The Original Star of Elephant Walk, Vivien Leigh
She had an affair with Peter Finch, her costar during her brief stint on the film

Elizabeth Taylor as Ruth in Elephant Walk

Edith Head designed the costumes...

... and as always did an admirable job of creating a series of outfits for Miss Taylor that simultaneously served as an accent to the beautiful Ceylon scenery and allowed Miss Taylor to stand out among the jungle setting.

Miss Taylor's character, Ruth, is a millionaire plantation-owner's wife so I have interpreted her costumes for the modern age with her situation in life in mind. 


Travel suit & scarf



Grecian dress with gold accents


White Belted Shirtdress & Elephant Necklace


Evening gown with lace bodice, full skirt & feminine detailing

Diaphanous peach pajamas

Flowing white robe

Pink cocktail dress with sweetheart neckline

Whimsical red & white striped dress

A blue day dress with a nipped waist


In one scene in the movie Elizabeth Taylor's character, Ruth, writes a letter home on "Elephant Walk" stationary. The stationary is made up of elegant little notecards with a single golden elephant stamped at the top center. I found a colorful version online but the cards can also be made economically through purchasing plain card stock notecards, a small rubber elephant stamp, & a gold ink pad. 

The Elephant Walk of Palm Beach:

The first time I saw Elephant Walk the film I was also reading Madness Under the Royal Palms by Laurence Leamer. In the movie, Elephant Walk is the name of the estate in Ceylon where Ruth and her husband live. Elephant Walk was also the name of the Palm Beach estate where Marylou Whitney once resided and that is profiled in Madness Under the Royal Palms. Elephant Walk in the movie is destroyed by vengeful pachyderms.  Elephant Walk on Palm Beach island was destroyed in 2011 by a demolition crew.The house, built in 1953, was on the corner of Jungle Road & South County Road.Although the house had been redone several times, its unconventional layout made it a prime target for demolition. Prior to that, it was the site of many extravagant parties, including one hosted in honor of Prince Edward and featured in the aforementioned book, which was an expose on the extravagance, glamour, and absurdity of life on Palm Beach Island. 

And, as always, one final image...

Elizabeth Taylor on the Set of Elephant Walk

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