When I heard of Taylor's death, the movie that immediately came to my mind was one that Taylor filmed in the middle of her career. It contains what I think is her best performance, in arguably her finest role, as Martha, in the 1966 "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf". It won her her second Oscar, and this time she triumphed on the strength of her acting, not out of sympathy for being near-death, as is rumored to be the cause of her victory in 1960's "Butterfield-8".
But since "Virginia Woolf", Taylor never again had a major screen hit. Not only that, "Virginia Woolf" was the pinnacle of what would become Taylor's persona on-screen (and often off): Look at her big-screen filmography since "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" in 1958, and you'll see that she built her theatrical film career, from that point on, on characters that were impatient, demanding, angry and somewhat unsympathetic.
Before all those, she was innocent, not yet hardened by life. This was the persona that captured moviegoers' imaginations. Was there ever a lovelier bride-to-be than Spencer Tracy's daughter in "Father of the Bride"? or a more desirable love-interest, in her eye-searing closeups with Montgomery Clift, in "A Place in the Sun" ?
Must publish now, my readers will not tolerate my being 15 minutes late.....