7.3/10
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46 user 15 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 »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (based on the play by)
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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
Al
...
...
Ollie
...
Lilly Sears
...
Ralph
Ralph Votrian ...
Steve
Steven Terrell ...
Phil
...
Ted
Jimmy Hayes ...
Henry
Richard Tyler ...
Roger
...
Vic
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 November 1956 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Chá e Simpatia  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,737,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Laura Reynolds: Manliness is not all swagger and mountain climbing. It's also tenderness.
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Connections

Referenced in Making Love (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

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"
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User Reviews

Slickly Done, Though Dated
2 July 2017 | by See all my reviews

Slickly done MGM soaper. As I recall, the movie was much talked about at time of release, no doubt because of its touchy subject matter. Homosexuality was primarily a taboo topic in the straitened 1950's.

The question posed is whether Tom's non-masculine traits are traceable to a latent homosexuality. That's what the film's basically about though the word itself is never mentioned. Due to family tradition, Tom's required to attend an upper-class all-boys college. That would be okay, except hyper-masculine behavior is the required norm, and since Tom's basically a sensitive type seemingly uninterested in girls, he's ridiculed and shunned by the other lads as a "sister-boy". The wife of his macho house-supervisor, however, is a sensitive soul herself. She cares about his plight when no one else does. But Laura's not sure how to help, especially when the school environment discourages sensitivity as unmanly. So how will Tom's predicament evolve when so much of his life combines against a non-conformity he seems unable to resist.

The story's told in Tom's flashback, so we know that whatever happens, he physically survives. But in what kind of mental state, we don't know until the end. Note how director Minnelli films entirely at an impersonal distance. There are no subjective close-ups. That way story remains uppermost, at the same time personal emotions are minimized. Whether this was the best course remains, I think, debatable.

Fortunately, the lead actors, Kerr (Tom) and Kerr (Laura), avoid excess. Thus, the results avoid treacle, the usual pitfall of a movie of this type. However, the boys' boisterous horseplay is spread on with a trowel, an over-exaggeration I guess to better contrast with the withdrawn Tom. But it's not really needed to that distractive degree.

Anyway, the story manages considerable human interest as both Tom and Laura try to deal with the travails of a hyper-masculine environment. I like the way Laura is slowly drawn into Tom's kindred soul predicament, and in a way that provides her own self-discovery after years of feminine conformity. Also, catch how subtly impotence is implied when Tom visits bargirl Ellie (Crane). The problem also turns out to be a key plot ingredient.

By and large, the taboo elements appear dated. Still, interest is pretty well maintained over the two-hour runtime. That plus a thoughtful upshot makes this MGM production worth catching up with.


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