Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Honest and hard-working Texas rancher Homer Bannon has a conflict with his unscrupulous, selfish, arrogant and egotistical son Hud, who sank into alcoholism after accidentally killing his brother in a car crash.
Drifter Chance Wayne returns to his hometown after many years of trying to make it in the movies. Arriving with him is a faded film star he picked up along the way, Alexandra Del Lago. ... See full summary »
The family of "Big Daddy" Pollitt convenes at his and Big Momma's vast 28,000 acre East Mississippi plantation for his sixty-fifth birthday, although it may as well be for his funeral on the belief that he is dying. Despite his latest medical report being clean, in reality he truly does have terminal colon cancer, something the doctor only tells Big Daddy's two sons, Gooper Pollitt, a lawyer, and Brick Pollitt, who recently left his job as a sportscaster. Brooding Brick and his wife Maggie Pollitt, who have driven up from New Orleans for the occasion, are going through a long rough patch in their marriage. Brick wanted to split, but Maggie convinced him to stay married on the condition that she not pressure him for sex. In their troubles, Brick has turned to the bottle, leading to a drunken incident which has left Brick currently on crutches. Maggie believes Gooper and his wife Mae Pollitt are trying to orchestrate Brick out of Big Daddy's will. Brick and Maggie's saving grace is Big ... Written by
Some 95% of the IMDb comments on "Cat..." concentrate on its stars/performances, and justly so: that's about all there is to this static, bowdlerized adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play. In 1958, director/writer Richard Brooks had the questionable distinction of bastardizing TWO masterpieces in the SAME year, Williams' "Cat..." and Dostoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" (remember that ending?).
"Cat..." is basically an all-talk psychodrama (if you're not fluent in English, be prepared to read a lot of subtitles!), as we watch a dysfunctional family dysfunctioning to the hilt, in another of Williams' exorcism of his ghosts (in "Cat..." 's particular case: his relationship with his brutish father, his coming out of the closet, his alcoholism, his tragic relationship back in the 1940s with his first male lover that eventually left him to get married, only to die of a brain tumor in 1944 with Williams at his deathbed).
It's difficult to take this adaptation seriously when two of the main themes of the play were either entirely eliminated (homosexualism) or trivialized (alcoholism -- how can a serious drunkard look as healthy and fresh-faced as Paul Newman?). The problem of eliminating the homosexual innuendos of Brick's relationship with Skipper -- besides the grave fact that Brooks betrayed the very core of the play -- is that Brooks doesn't come up with anything consistent in its place. The "new" motivations for Brick's trauma (that led him to become an alcoholic and sexually reject Maggie) are at first vaguely mysterious and then an over-sized bubble, because they amount to nothing much.
What Brooks did to the play was worse than white-washing; it was an act of...mendacity!! Oh, the irony of it all:)
Williams himself dismissed Brooks' adaptation, saying it looked "like prostitution or corruption", that he "cheats on the material, sweetens it up and makes it all hunky-dory". It's said Williams even publicly advised audiences not to see the movie. Nevertheless, he wasn't exactly physically tortured to accept (reportedly) half a million dollars for the film rights :) Anyway, he would show Brooks and Hollywood a thing or two the next year, when he adapted (with Gore Vidal) his own play "Suddenly Last Summer" for the screen, making homosexuality its unequivocal (though encrypted) center, even if homosexual "pervert" Sebastian gets his "deserved punishment" at the end, being literally eaten alive!
Brooks' version of "Cat..." is disappointingly static; the camera's only interested in its stars. But then, what stars! Taylor and Newman are really one of the most spectacular screen couples ever. Liz -- probably never more beautiful -- hadn't however finished peeling off that early "nice girl" quality (it was her first real "nasty" role) and still lacked the delicious "trampiness" that would bloom in the 60s (though she has a shrill laughing scene by the mirror, at the beginning, that is delightfully vulgar and sexy). Paul Newman, also at his hottest, tries hard (and he's always pretty aware of his cinematic wooing powers) but is ultimately miscast: looking invariably sober and impeccably healthy, with not a shadow of anguish in his All-American brow, he doesn't succeed in portraying the compulsion to drink, the nihilist decay, the uptight despair to his part (imagine what Brando or Clift could have brought to the role). It's very hard to think of him as the complete loser Brick is. Burl Ives, physically impressive, chews everything around him in the Emil-Jannings-acting-school fashion (OK, so Big Daddy is bigger than life -- one more reason to smuggle in an occasional subtlety). Jack Carson is wasted in the under-developed part of his potentially very interesting character (Brick's underdog brother Gooper). Judith Anderson as the hysterical, torn apart Big Mama, and Madeleine Sherwood, as the nightmarish hag "sister-woman", have a ball with their roles, all stops out.
"Cat..." is ultimately disappointing because it's glamorous when it should have been grim, and just repetitive when it should have been obsessive. However, it has star power to spare, some of the dialog is Williams at his poisonous best and there are some undeniably effective scenes: when Big Mama confronts Maggie saying that troubles in marriage have but one cause -- while firmly pounding her open hand on Maggie's mattress -- the film suddenly becomes alive for a moment.
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