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Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Unrated | | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 22 December 1959 (USA)
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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.

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(play), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Dr. Lawrence J. Hockstader
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Mavis Villiers ...
Patricia Marmont ...
Nurse Benson
Joan Young ...
Maria Britneva ...
Lucy
Sheila Robbins ...
Dr. Hockstader's Secretary
David Cameron ...
Young Blonde Interne
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Storyline

A wealthy harridan, Violet Venable, attempts to bribe Dr. Cukrowicz, a young psycho-surgeon from a New Orleans mental hospital that is desperately in need of funds, into lobotomizing her niece, Catherine Holly. Violet wants the operation performed in order to prevent Catherine from defiling the memory of her son, the poet Sebastian. Catherine has been babbling obscenely about Sebastian's mysterious death that she witnessed while on holiday together in Spain the previous summer. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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These are powers and passions without precedent in motion pictures! See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

22 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De repente en el verano  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the few classic films to address smoking as an addiction that can affect the mood or attitude of the smoker. See more »

Goofs

When Dr. Cukrowicz talks to Mrs. Venable about Sebastian's purity, she is looking at him, but after the cut (just before he asks whether she wants to see Catherine) she is instantly looking away from him. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Venable: Most people's lives, what are they but trails of debris - each day more debris, more debris... long, long trails of debris, with nothing to clean it all up but death.
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Connections

Featured in Vito (2011) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant Script by Gore Vidal
9 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Superb acting by Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Montgomery Clift spark this nifty adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play. This Southern Gothic tale is worthy of Flannery O'Connor as it pits innocent Catherine against her aunt Violet as they battle over the memory and reality of Sebastian Venable.

With hints of incest and homosexuality along with family jealousies and squabbling, the women go at each other as they each go after the new doctor from Chicago (Clift). Violet wants the girl committed to an asylum where she will be given a lobotomy. The girl battles back as she recalls the real truth about Sebastian. Her greedy family (Mercedes McCambridge, Gary Raymond) are perfectly willing to sacrifice Catherine for a chunk of money. Everyone is a vulture in this story. The asylum is run by another greedy man (Albert Dekker) who only wants Venable money for a new hospital wing.

After Sebastian casts aside mother (Hepburn) for his summer trip and takes Catherine (Taylor), the older woman starts working to get her revenge. But when Sebastian dies, she goes into mourning as well. Complicated story of innuendo and symbol, one is never quite sure what happens to Sebastian who is symbolically eaten by the boys he has sexually preyed on (heavens to Michael Jackson!). But the sight of his death drives Catherine nuts. The mother of course is in denial of every unsavory trait Sebastian possessed.

Brilliant, florid dialog and two wonderful, long soliloquies by Hepburn and Taylor are highlights. The symbolism is fairly obvious but works well within the context of Southern Gothic. All the supporting cast is fine. Taylor and Hepburn earned best actress Oscar nominations. Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, and his partner, Frank Merlo, are in the opening surgery scene. A fascinating story and some great performances.

Special mention must be made of Gore Vidal's brilliant screenplay, expanding the one-act play by Tennessee Williams (who had nothing to do with the screenplay, despite his billing). Vidal perfectly captures the cadence of Williams' speeches and maintains the Gothic mystery Williams was trying for. Vidal lost his chance for an Oscar nomination after the film Catholic Church attacked the film his its implied (gasp!) tale of homosexuality.


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