Sometimes art and real life combine in fortuitous ways, as when the rocky marriage of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor gave fire and brimstone to their performances as the feuding couple in this 1967 film version of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. In 1963, the couple's romantic spark had added sizzle to Cleopatra, but, by 1966, their alcoholic rages in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf had seemed almost painfully authentic. Their marital problems were public knowledge by the time they were cast in The Taming of the Shrew by Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, and their celebrity brought the film millions of curious viewers. They saw a phantasmagorically lit and vibrant staging, featuring violent physical confrontations between the two stars. The big-budget Hollywood production was the first major filming of the story since the 1929 version, which starred Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Soon after the film was released, Taylor and Burton were divorced.