41 user 13 critic

Tea and Sympathy (1956)

Approved | | Drama | 5 November 1956 (France)
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)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Madame Bovary (1949)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A provincial doctor's wife's romantic illusions about life and social status lead her to betray her naive husband, take on lovers and run up ruinous debts.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Jennifer Jones, James Mason, Van Heflin
The Cobweb (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

At an exclusive psychiatric clinic, the doctors and staff are about as crazy as the patients. The clinic head, Dr. Stewart McIver, thinks that it would be good therapy for his patients to ... See full summary »

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A sportswriter and a fashion-designer marry after a whirlwind romance, and discover they have little in common.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall, Dolores Gray
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Dramatic story of the influential Hunnicutt family set in Texas during the late 1950s.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Eleanor Parker, George Peppard
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In the post-war, the alcoholic and bitter veteran military and former writer Dave Hirsch returns from Chicago to his hometown Parkman, Indiana. He is followed by Ginnie Moorehead, a vulgar ... See full summary »

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine
The Clock (1945)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Soldier Joe Allen is on a two-day leave in New York, and there he meets Alice. She agrees to show him the sights and they spend the day together. In this short time they find themselves ... See full summary »

Directors: Vincente Minnelli, Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Judy Garland, Robert Walker, James Gleason
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A teenage American girl while visiting her father, is thrown into London society during the "Debutante Season".

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Rex Harrison, Kay Kendall, John Saxon
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

After spending three years in an asylum, a washed-up actor views a minor assignment from his old director in Rome as a chance for personal and professional redemption.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Edward G. Robinson, Cyd Charisse
The Pirate (1948)
Adventure | Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A girl is engaged to the local richman, but meanwhile she has dreams about the legendary pirate Macoco. A traveling singer falls in love with her and to impress her he poses as the pirate.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Walter Slezak
The Sandpiper (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A free-spirited single mother forms a connection with the wed headmaster of an Episcopal boarding school in California.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Eva Marie Saint
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Ella Peterson is a Brooklyn telephone answering service operator who tries to improve the lives of her clients by passing along bits of information she hears from other clients. She falls ... See full summary »

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Judy Holliday, Dean Martin, Fred Clark
Brigadoon (1954)
Certificate: Passed Fantasy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Two Americans on a hunting trip in Scotland become lost. They encounter a small village, not on the map, called Brigadoon, in which people harbor a mysterious secret, and behave as if they were still living two hundred years in the past.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Cyd Charisse


Complete credited cast:
Bill Reynolds
Herb Lee
Ellie Martin
Jacqueline deWit ...
Lilly Sears
Steven Terrell ...
Kip King ...
Jimmy Hayes ...
Richard Tyler ...


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?




Approved | See all certifications »




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?


Premiered at the prestigious Radio City Music Hall. See more »


A pair of china dogs are back to back in a master shot (overall wide view). But when the camera moves in for close-ups, the dogs are face-to-face. See more »


Tom Lee: I'm always falling in love with the wrong people.
Laura Reynolds: Who isn't?
See more »


Referenced in The Wonder Years: Cocoa and Sympathy (1990) 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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The best way to walk.
10 February 2005 | by See all my reviews

The movie begins and ends with an old French folk song "plaisir d'amour" (English translation :"joys of love")which was reworked as "can't help falling in love" for Elvis Presley.Since the movie is actually a long flashback,the infinite nostalgia this old chestnut generates fits the movie like a glove.

"Tea and sympathy" might be the best of all Minnelli non-musicals in the fifties/sixties.We even forget that John Kerr (25 at the time) was much too old for this part of an adolescent in search of his sexual identity.John Kerr was the victim of "the cobweb" a couple of years before.His character in "tea and sympathy'" is a relative of the one I mention above as well as of the young hero of "home from the hill" (1960) "Tea and sympathy " was a courageous move for the fifties:it took a lot a nerve to show a boy at the university who refused "normality".What's normality anyway?Is it ,for a man ,swearing or climbing mountains? as luminous Deborah Kerr says.When you're not fond of sports,when you like the ladies' tea and sympathy,when you enjoy music and poetry ,then you are a "sister boy" and maybe even worse...You've got to pay attention to see what heavy things Minnelli was saying at a time it was not that much good to be DIFFERENT.Robert Anderson's play was years ahead and had (or should have had) a deep beneficial influence on mentalities.The scene where one of the "true" boys teaches his unfortunate pal the right way to walk had certainly a strong influence on French director Claude Miller 's "la meilleure façon de marcher"(1975).

But the play (and Minnelli's excellent movie) are often a ruthless portrayal of the "straights" :the young hero's father is a really dumb man -where is his wife by the way? Is she dead? or the perfect housewife?-,a narrow-minded crude character devoid of all the qualities of the heart.The fact that he asks the virile teacher to "make a man of his son" proves his stupidity.This teacher (D.Kerr's husband) ,under a he-man mask actually hides a vulnerability which his sensitive wife feels.He,too , is longing for tenderness,love and affection,but as it's not worthy of a true man,his life will be an unfulfilled one.

Deborah Kerr RULES.She wins over the audience with a mesmerizing performance .It's not only the "sister boy" who falls in love with her.Anyone who sees this wonderful film will too.

NB:in the play,which was sweetened ,Tom is called "Grace" or "Gracie",and the words "queer" and "fairy" are used.

47 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The ending evenstar9
This Movie did not work for me!! SusanJL
Was 'Sister Boy' really a term used at the time? gurgitoy2
Where Is The DVD mpofarrell
the great John Alton goes high gloss danielj_old999
A few questions stepperry2010
Discuss Tea and Sympathy (1956) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: