MCM: Richard Burton


I’m honestly kind of surprised we haven’t featured Richard Burton on a Man Candy Monday post yet. He’s in so many iconic films from the golden era of Hollywood historical flicks, and is just downright legendary as an actor on his own. So, here you all go! Let’s celebrate a manly man who wasn’t afraid to show a little thigh!


Woman of Dolwyn (1949)

A syrupy film about a mining community in Wales. Not a whole lot more to say about it other than young Richard Burton is a total snack.


My Cousin Rachel (1952)

Trystan summed up Burton’s role in her article on this film: “a young Richard Burton as Philip Ashley, the spoiled, whiney, petulant little shit of a nephew and ward of one wealthy Cornish gentleman, Ambrose Ashley (John Sutton).” Couldn’t have said it better myself. The costumes are gorgeous, though. And Olivia de Havilland is ALWAYS worth a watch, no matter what.


The Robe (1953)

The first of MANY Burton vehicles where he plays a Roman or Greek hero in a very short skirt. Can we bring back the era of the male leg, Hollywood? Pretty please?


Prince of Players (1955)

The film tells the story of 19th-century megastar actor Edwin Booth in the aftermath of his brother, John Wilkes Booth, assassinating President Lincoln.


Alexander the Great (1956)

I love EVERYTHING about the costume design in this film. EVERYTHING.


Wuthering Heights (1958)

Ah, the Ur-dumpster fire romance! Unlike Trystan, I always found the characters in Wuthering Heights tedious, but I do have to hand it to Burton in his role as Heathcliff. He’s excellent as always.


A Subject of Scandal and Concern (1960)

A dramatic retelling of George Holyoake, the last man in England to be tried and convicted for blasphemy.


Cleopatra (1963)

I know so many people who cite this film as their sexual awakening. SO MANY.


Becket (1964)

Not exactly the most historically accurate take on the intense friendship between Samuel Becket and Henry II of England, but it gets the big picture across (provided you can handle the scene chewing). Actually has a fair amount of parallel to the real life friendship between Burton and O’Toole, as well.


The Taming of the Shrew (1967)

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor are at their best when they’re at each other’s throats. Some fantastic costuming from Danilo Donati, the costumer went on to do Zeffirelli’s follow-up Romeo and Juliet (1968).


Doctor Faustus (1967)


Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

Richard Burton in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

Really, Burton’s Henry VIII is hands down the best I’ve seen on film. He manages to capture the physical appeal of the man as he’s edging closer to outright despotism. Makes it easy to understand how so many people fell under his spell, only to be cruelly relieved of their lives when they were no longer useful.


The Assassination of Trotsky (1972)

A film centered around the 1940 assassination of Leon Trotsky. Burton does a pretty good job transforming into the Russian revolutionary.


The Gathering Storm (1974)

Another incredible transformation into a world leader for Burton, this time Winston Churchill.


Lovespell (1981)

A retelling of the Tristan and Isolde story, about a much older man marrying a much younger woman and how that always works out well for everyone in the end. Seriously, though, as I was going through the list of Burton’s credits, there were SO MANY films of his with plots that could be summed up as “Middle-aged man has affair with 16-year-old girl and no one is happy at the end.” Like, the 16-year-old age was SUPER specific, too. WTF, Hollywood. What. The. Fuck.


Wagner (1981-1983)

My opinion of Richard Wagner as a person and composer is, let’s just say, not super great. But this film looks like it has good costumes, and I might have to cover it for our ongoing series of articles on films about musicians.


Ellis Island (1984)

Richard Burton’s last film credit before his death. Faye Dunaway apparently got a Golden Globe for her role, as well.



What’s your favorite Richard Burton frock flick? Share it with us in the comments!

19 Responses

    • M.E. Lawrence

      Samuel vs. Thomas: I just knew someone would beat me to it. Knowing Burton, though, he would have made a good Beckett as well. I’ve never heard of “A Subject of Scandal and Concern”–sounds fascinating. That voice; as a teenager, my daughter used to listen to Burton narrating “Under Milkwood” every day.

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Anne of a Thousand Days and Taming of the Shrew are hands down my favourites. Shrew is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. I love how Katherine lets him think he won. And Anne of a Thousand Days has costumes to die for and gives the feel of HVIII in love with Anne and beginning to realise his true power. Also shows his charisma and how he was at one time known as the handsomest prince in Christendom.

  2. Michael McQuown

    Of the ones I’ve seen, I’ll go for Shrew. But beware of the two-headed monster called the LizandDick.

  3. florenceandtheai

    Anne of the Thousand Days. I have Views about some of his personal conduct, but he was a truly magnetic actor.

  4. Gray

    “Wagner” is beautifully designed. I wish they’d spent more time on his artistic achievements than his personal eccentricities however.

  5. Gray

    Thank god he didn’t insist on his own designer, like Liz did, on “The Taming of the Shrew”. Liz’s costumes for the film are designed by Irene Sharaff , if I remember correctly, NOT Danilo Donati. Her stuff is OK, but Donati’s clothes for everybody else are much better.

  6. Lily Lotus Rose


    Sorry for the all caps, but Richard Burton always makes me shout. :)

    • SarahV

      Great Hera, yes. He and Liz must have had mid-blowing, supernova like sex.

  7. Nzie

    I love The Robe and Becket. Anne of the Thousand Days is also great – aside from some hair stuff, really love the costumes as well. I’ve seen Taming and Cleopatra but it’s been a while. I am very interested in The Prince of Players and The Assassination of Trotsky based on the plot summaries. What an actor. Also, I could listen to his voice forever–so resonant and lovely.

  8. Saraquill

    I know him best as Buyer of Ultra Posh Jewelry, including the Taylor-Burton Diamond.

    • Roxana

      Appropos of jewelry, Taylor told a very funny story about her historic pearl, la peregrina. One evening she and Burton are sitting round after dinner when she suddenly and horrifyingly realizes that la peregrina is no longer hanging from her necklace. With exquisite calm she excuses herself, goes into the bedroom and has screaming hysterics into her pillow. Then, having relieved her feelings, calmly and thoroughly searches her bedroom and finds the pearl safe and sound. 🤣

      • Ermanno Gizzi

        Thanks Roxana for such story; through your account I can figure perfectly all the scene and see the looks on her face.

  9. Roxana

    That girl in the picture for Becket doesn’t seem to mind being sandwiched between Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. But then who would?

    • Ermanno Gizzi

      She’s Véronique Vendell (stagename), playing a French lover of king Henry II.

  10. Diane Whiteside

    I saw Burton on stage in Camelot. The Voice was even better in person, on his last day of live theatrical performance. That’s a very fond memory.