Friday, March 14, 2008

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)


Although the 1958 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a bit tamer than the Tennessee Williams play, it is still a damn good film. Liz Taylor plays Maggie the Cat and Paul Newman plays her husband Brick. The two of them are visiting Brick's father Big Daddy (Burl Ives) on his sixty-fifth birthday mainly to find out the tests on whether or not he has cancer. Big Daddy unfortunately does have inoperable terminal cancer, but Big Momma (Judith Anderson) and Big Daddy have both been told by the doctor that the tests were negative; presumably so that Big Daddy could enjoy his last birthday. Also up for the occasion are Brick's older brother Gooper (Jack Carson) and his wife Mae (Madeleine Sherwood) and their five little "no-neck monsters". No one in the family seems too fond of Gooper and his wife; they come across as very self-centered and greedy, only out for Big Daddy's fortune. Gooper and his wife are also quick to point out Brick's drinking problem (which stemmed from the death of his best friend Skipper) in order to prove him irresponsible and unworthy of inheritance, and the fact that he doesn't seem all that fond of his wife who obviously is still madly in love with him. Big Daddy himself doesn't seem to like anyone, except for Brick and Maggie and with Brick's severe drinking problem Big Daddy is wondering whether he can trust Brick with his plantation. Brick has no interest in the plantation, for all he cares Gooper can just have it, however since Big Daddy is not at all fond of Gooper this is not a reasonable solution. As Brick puts it in the film, family crisis brings out the best and the worst in everyone and that is certainly apparent in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Liz Taylor is absolutely superb in her performance; and Burl Ives, Paul Newman and the rest of the cast are spectacular as well. The film completely skirts over the homosexual undertones of Brick and Skipper's relationship, no doubt due to the time it was produced and I felt that that took a bit away from the film, but it is still outstanding. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is definitely worth watching, one of Elizabeth Taylor's greatest roles. Overall 3.5/4 Stars Grade = B+

1 comment:

Martini Mouse said...

What is even more amazing about Taylor's performance was that she became or was a new widow and it was later said by Newman that she used this role to help her through the grief.