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USA 1958
Directed by
Richard Brooks
108 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Although Paul Newman and the rest of the cast including Burl Ives and Jack Carson are effective, Elizabeth Taylor steals the show in this rendition of Tennessee Williams' hit play about adysfunctional wealthy Southern family. It was nominated for six Oscars, but failed to win any, largely due to the huge success of Gigi that year.  Apparently Williams disliked the film which softened his original text although it nevertheless caused quite a stir in its time for confronting sexual relationships including suggesting that Newman's Brick had latent homosexual feelings for his deceased friend, Skipper.

Ives plays Big Daddy, the cantankerous self-made millionaire paterfamilias dying of stomach cancer. His grown sons are in their separate ways a disappointment to him. His eldest, Gooper (an oddly-cast Carson who was more usually seen in musicals and comedies) is a dutiful lawyer married to Mae (Madeleine Sherwood), a breeder and a nag whilst his favourite, Brick (Newman), is a washed-up sports jock with a drinking problem who has a childless marriage with Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) who plays up to Big Daddy in the hope of getting the lion’s share of his estate. 

Typically enough of Williams, the main concern is depicting the jealousies, frustrations, deceptions and disappointments that poison the family members' lives and whilst all this might have been toned down for cinema audiences of the time, the result is a solid example of late '50s Hollywood melodrama from the undervalued Brooks.




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