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.
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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
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The family of who is "affectionately" known as "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, 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 ... Written by
When Paul Newman agreed to play the role of Brick, he was under the impression the film would simply adapt the original script into a screenplay. When the screenplay deviated wildly from the stage text over Tennessee Williams' objections, Newman expressed his disappointment. See more »
When Doc Baugh comes upstairs to tell Brick about Big Daddy's real condition, he examines Brick's leg and discusses football with him. In the course of that conversation, Brick alludes to a game played against "Bama State", meaning Alabama State. Bama State (Alabama State) is a historically black university in Montgomery. During the 1950s, Brick's college (presumably Ole Miss) would not have been allowed to play a historically black college. The choice of "Bama State" by the writers was a factual mistake, in that such a game could not have occurred under any circumstances in that era. See more »
People like doing what they used to do, after they've stopped being able to do it.
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Sultry and downbeat, this Richard Brooks directed film is set at a Southern plantation where a dysfunctional family celebrates the 65th birthday of family patriarch Big Daddy (Burl Ives), a portly man whose health, or the lack of it, is very much on the minds of all the family members. The story centers on one of Big Daddy's two sons, a brooding young man named Brick (Paul Newman) and his childless wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor).
Brick is reticent and repressed for reasons unknown, and finds relief in alcohol. Beautiful Maggie is concerned that Brick's indifference to Big Daddy may cost them their share of the family inheritance, at the hands of Brick's brother and scheming sister-in-law. Adding fuel to the fire is Brick's prepubescent nieces and nephews, in-your-face brats, whom Maggie refers to, not kindly, as little "no-neck" monsters. Big Momma (Judith Anderson) just wants Big Daddy to be physically well, and for everyone to get along.
Of course, with a big inheritance on the line, tension erupts, first between Brick and Maggie, then later between them and everyone else. As the tension mounts, arguments erupt into a real down-home Southern soap opera.
The film's script is heavy on dialogue. But because of the story's thematic depth, the issues are interesting and insightful, and the script never seems talky. At the heart of the story is the subject of mendacity, of lies and not telling the truth. There is considerable emotional pain, expressed as anger, resentment, and sarcasm. The story, originated by Tennessee Williams, goes against its era, in that it contradicts the virtues of traditional family values and capitalism.
Casting and acting are quite good. But Burl Ives' performance is wonderful, and alone makes the film worth watching. Color cinematography is conventional. It's a slow-paced film with long camera "takes". Sets and production design are lavish.
Because the dreadful Hays Code censored much of the thematic content in 1958, the film's conclusion is weak and does not justify Brick's emotional state. This is not a criticism of the film, but of the Hays Code itself which, mercifully, was abolished in the 1960s.
Dripping with Southern atmosphere, and with a sultry jazz score, "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" is a terrific movie, for its thematic value, its cast, and the splendid performance of Burl Ives.
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