Love, Cecil

Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland might’ve been able to squeeze the life of Cecil Beaton (photographer, production designer) into a 95-minute documentary, narrated by Rupert Everett, but the timeline can barely hold onto him! He studied at Eton and was bullied by Evelyn Waugh before the labyrinth of choices beckoned him to focus his energies on the camera, where alongside his best friend Stephen Tennant he captured The Bright Young Ones of the ’20s and ’30s in pictures where cellophane backgrounds overwhelmed his subjects. Escaping to America, his work caught the eye of Vogue and Vanity Fair until he inserted an anti-Semitic slur into the border of his illustration on New York society. Fired, he returned to England and an invitation by the Queen to photograph 30 members of the royal family, which led to him becoming a sought-after Hollywood portrait photographer for Orson Welles, Dietrich, Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Garbo (about whom he developed a lifelong obsession), Picasso and Twiggy. He would go on to win an Oscar for costuming and set design on My Fair Lady and Gigi, and then a Tony for set designs on Coco! He leased Ashcombe a palatial estate where Dali and Whistler would come to paint. Beaton also had enemies and was known for his bluntness, saying he thought Katherine Hepburn resembled a dried up old boot! He hated Richard Burton and director George Cukor but left a visual record of over half a century!