The combination of actress Elizabeth Taylor and playwright Tennessee Williams resulted in two classic film adaptations, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer. Three times was not the charm with the dull and obvious loser called Boom!
Previously, Williams had only participated in the screenplay adaptation of Suddenly, Last Summer which has then rewritten by Gore Vidal; the screenplay for Boom! was wholly his own. For whatever reason, a green light was given to a film adaptation of a failed Williams play that no one liked to begin with, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, and no amount of stunt casting (husband and wife team Taylor and Richard Burton, a far cry from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or even Cleopatra) and pretty sets can save it.
Boom! stars Taylor as Flora Goforth, a wealthy widow many times over who also happens to be dying from Hollywood Movie Disease, you know, the kind that is never named and comes and goes at will with a variety of symptoms that only come into play when the script calls for them. She lives in a huge mansion on a secluded Mediterranean island and spends her days ranting and verbally abusing her secretary, Joanna Shimkus. Burton is a mysterious stranger who shows up on the island and, for whatever reason, is allowed to stay. The other major player is Noel Coward as The Witch of Capri who arrives only to tell Taylor, and the audience, that Burton is the Angel of Death.
Once we learn this little tidbit, it becomes totally clear that we will wait and wait and wait for Taylor to die, after all, Burton is the Angel of Death who will allow Taylor to go forth (Goforth! Get it?) towards death. But until that happens there will be endless scenes of Taylor and Burton bickering and trying to seduce one another, or at least while Taylor is coughing on cue or throwing major hissy fits towards Shimkus and Michael Dunn, who is the dwarf that serves as Taylor's security officer (?). So, yeah, the pace is deadly.
Since there is nothing really to listen to in Boom! we can only look at the ocean, the lovely mountains, the exquisite house, and oggle aghast at some of the most hideous costumes Taylor has ever worn in the movies. We also may ponder how Taylor always has a brand new, perfect and complex hairdo in just about every scene even though there isn't a salon or a hairdresser for hundreds of miles. Other questions include: Why is Coward called The Witch of Capri? Why does Burton spend the entire movie wearing a kimono and carrying a samurai sword? Is this the most pretentious pile of nonsense Tennessee Williams has ever written? Why won't Taylor just die already?
And the title? As Burton repeats more than once, "Boom! The shock of each moment of still being alive." If so, theater audiences must have sat in stony silence, having died from boredom early on.