Tea and Sympathy (1956)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  5 November 1956 (France)
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Tom Lee is a sensitive boy of 17 whose lack of interest in the "manly" pursuits of sports, mountain climbing and girls labels him "sister-boy" at the college he is attending. Head master ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (based on the play by)
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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Bill Reynolds
Herb Lee
Ellie Martin
Jacqueline deWit ...
Lilly Sears
Steven Terrell ...
Kip King ...
Jimmy Hayes ...
Richard Tyler ...
Don Burnett ...


Tom Lee is a sensitive boy of 17 whose lack of interest in the "manly" pursuits of sports, mountain climbing and girls labels him "sister-boy" at the college he is attending. Head master Bill Reynold's wife Laura sees Tom's suffering at the hands of his school mates (and her husband), and tries to help him find himself. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Where does a woman's sympathy leave off -- and her indiscretion begin?




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Release Date:

5 November 1956 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Chá e Simpatia  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm optical prints)| (35 mm magnetic prints) (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The school sequences were filmed on the same Metro studio set where varied other films: "The Cobweb," "Best Foot Forward," "Good News," etc., had been filmed. See more »


While Tom Lee (Class of 1946) is still in school, Laura Reynolds drives a 1950 Dodge. See more »


Tom Lee: When I was a kid here in this school, I've had my problems too. I used to sit in my room and listen to phonograph records hour after hour. I had a place where I used to go and cry my eyes out.
Laura Reynolds: Oh, Bill.
Tom Lee: But I've got over it, Laura. I learned how to take it. Now when the headmaster's wife gave you that silver teapot, she told you what she tells all of the other master's wives that you've got to be an interested bystander.
Laura Reynolds: Yes, yes, I know.
Tom Lee: Just as she says, Laura. All you're supposed to do is ...
See more »


Referenced in Experience Preferred... But Not Essential (1982) See more »


The Joys of Love
Written by G.B. Martini and Richard Dyer-Bennett
Performed by John Kerr (dubbed by Gene Merlino)
Song based on "Plaisir d'Amour"
See more »

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User Reviews

An outdated but enjoyable and poignant film
30 January 2006 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

It is true that this film, made in 1956, two years after it appeared on the stage, is dated. And it is true, in real 1950s style, the characters may seem very contrived, and the dialogue very scripted. But Tea and Sympathy tells a very real and poignant story and if you allow yourself simply to be swept up by that, rather than looking at the film in a sceptical and critical manner, you may actually enjoy it. John Kerr does a wonderful job of playing a teenage boy, Tom Lee, who cannot seem to fit in with those around him, and Leif Erickson does just as good a job portraying the schoolmaster Bill Reynolds, who sees being 'manly' as one of the most important things there is. And lovely, refined Deborah Kerr (no relation to John Kerr), in the role she played on stage, does an impressive job of portraying Laura Reynolds, the love-starved faculty wife who still thinks about the husband she lost in the war. And she is the one who is disturbed by the treatment Tom gets from his schoolmates, and even from her husband himself, and she is the one who takes action to try and help him. The fact that there are large references to 'out of bounds' sexual activity in the film make it rather unique and daring for the decade in which it was released. Director Vincente Minnelli does a superb job of capturing the sexual tension within the Reynolds house and makes the film that much less twee. A great film, and a must see for Deborah Kerr fans.

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The ending evenstar9
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