7.3/10
1,812
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)
Reviews
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Cobweb (1955)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 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
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

It's 1939 in the small English town of Penny Green and events in Poland are about to change lives. Mark Sabre, a writer of school text books, has married Mabel "on the rebound", after his ... See full summary »

Director: Victor Saville
Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Deborah Kerr, Angela Lansbury
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The stories of several people are told as they stay at a seaside hotel in Bournemouth which features dining at "Separate Tables."

Director: Delbert Mann
Stars: Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, David Niven
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
The Clock (1945)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In 1945, during a 48-hour leave, a soldier accidentally meets a girl at Pennsylvania Station and spends his leave with her, eventually falling in love with the lovely New Yorker.

Directors: Vincente Minnelli, Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Judy Garland, Robert Walker, James Gleason
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
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In Argentina, one daughter of patriarch Madariaga is married to a Frenchman while the other is married to a German thus leading to a crisis when Nazi Germany occupies France and some Madariaga family members fight on opposite sides.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Glenn Ford, Ingrid Thulin, Charles Boyer
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Dave Hirsch, a writer and an army veteran winds up in his small Indiana hometown, to the dismay of his respectable older brother. He meets and befriends various different characters and tries to figure out what to do with his life.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A Brooklyn answering service operator becomes involved in the lives of her clients, including a struggling playwright with whom she begins to fall in love.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Judy Holliday, Dean Martin, Fred Clark
Certificate: Passed Musical | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A compulsive gambler dies during a shooting, but he'll receive a second chance to reform himself and to make up with his worried wife.

Directors: Vincente Minnelli, Busby Berkeley
Stars: Ethel Waters, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Lena Horne
Jeopardy (1953)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A family vacationing on the coast of Mexico have to cope with multiple threats to their safety.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Ralph Meeker
All Fall Down (1962)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Ralph and Annabell Willart are a feuding couple who are constantly bickering over their worthless, good-for nothing son Berry-Berry. When Berry-Berry begins yet another meaningless love ... See full summary »

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Eva Marie Saint, Warren Beatty, Karl Malden
Edit

Cast

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

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 November 1956 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Chá e Simpatia  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was a flop at the box office for MGM resulting in a loss of $220,000 ($2M in 2017) according to studio records. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Sommarnöje sökes (1957) 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"
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Tea and Sympathy
17 August 2009 | by See all my reviews

Some of the comments here puzzle me, and really point out how people can see the same film and yet see entirely different films nonetheless.

Yes, Tea and Sympathy addresses homosexuality -- but there isn't a single bit of *actual* homosexuality in the film. It's not about actual homosexuality but about perceived homosexuality... and the fear thereof. It's completely obvious within five minutes that Tom Lee is completely in love with Laura, and there's nothing whatsoever in the film that suggests he might feel romantic or erotic attraction to men... nor is there anything whatsoever in the film that suggests that he's confused about whether or not he likes men (or men and women).

Of course, back in the fifties, most, really all, film language that dealt with homosexuality was coded. Things *stood* for homosexuality, rather than directly displaying it. So, one could be tempted to say that Tom Lee is a coded closet case. But, far too much of the script is explicitly about the external challenge of his being seen as, or feared to be, queer; while absolutely none of it is about an internal struggle with his orientation. He struggles with the perception (his own and others) of his masculinity, but nothing in the film indicates Tom himself might think he's queer.

And, again, his obvious infatuation with Laura permeates the whole film. He doesn't *stalk* her at the beginning because he needs a sympathetic ear...

And when she tries to set him up on a tea date with a girl, there's no sense that she fears Tom is queer, that she must straighten him out. But she *is* horribly concerned that they keep others from thinking it. She even has one line of dialog in which she speaks to him directly of the need to "nip this in the bud" or somesuch. Even in a 1956 film, it wouldn't make any sense to think that this woman would think a tea date would "straighten" Tom out; but it does make sense that she would believe it could be part of repairing his reputation.

The closest the film ever gets to suggesting the potential (much less the actuality) of Tom being queer is when Laura voices fears that Tom being treated "not like a man" could lead him to *become* unsure of himself as a man... If you want to infer she fears he *might* become queer because of this, there's room especially given the overall coding Hollywood demanded of such material, but, again, you've got everything else in the film to work against this interpretation. And it's an interpretation of what Tom *might* be in the future, not what he is in the timeframe of the film itself.

Furthermore, even this is only the perception of another character -- not Tom himself displaying any indication that HE fears he may one day "become" queer.

Tom's conflict revolves around his trying to navigate his way in the world as the *atypical* man he is, find his identity as a man, and be accepted as such... in a world that doesn't want to.

And it's *other* people, not Tom, who clearly (altho thru coded film language) see him as queer, or fear he might be.

And while I understand that Anderson's play was more forceful in suggesting that the housemaster was a repressed homosexual, it's *really* stretch to see it in the film version. The building blocks of the coding are there (yeah, he hangs out with the boys and roughhouses with them, and he neglects his wife), but the film also goes to considerable lengths to paint him as a "typical" man who's lost interest in his marriage once he's claimed his wife. What with that, and the context of a film in which the main character is so clearly painted as a perceived homosexual rather than as an actual one (even in potentiality), the coding is so incredibly watered down that it's really not even there at all, effectively.

Tea and Sympathy is a pretty compelling film about the definitions of masculinity and gender role enforcement and homophobia. It's really upsetting to see that homophobia and misogyny and incredible pressure to conform on screen, but it is compelling. Even if Minnelli turned out to be a horrible choice for director.

His avoidance of close-ups reveals him to be, in this case at least, what feels to me like a very selfish director. More than the topic, more than the writing, it's the performances of Kerr and Kerr that make this film. They are constantly having to fight Minnelli's apparent desire to keep them at a visual distance from us. I guess in a way it's a credit to both the stars and Minnelli himself that he could get such strong work from them despite the sparseness of close-ups that the film so desperately needed.

It's as if Minnelli thought that he was -- or should be -- directing a pageant rather than a drama. "Look, I can make even an intimate, human drama great in WIDESCREEN!!!" Except that you can't, Vincent. I don't care about you in Tea and Sympathy, Mr. Minnelli, I care about Tom and Laura. Give me the characters!

Matthew


15 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?
Review this title | See all 46 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

How to Wield a Lightsaber

Legendary sword choreographer Tim Weske teaches our "IMDb Show" Jedis the basics of lightsaber combat. Plus, we break down the origins of some iconic Star Wars creatures.

Watch now