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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
One of the better film versions of a Williams classic
Film versions of Tennessee Williams great plays can be a little frustrating, especially for those of us lucky enough to have seen a fine production of the play on stage. I saw a fine production of this piece in London in 1999, with Sheila Gish as Mrs Venable, Rachel Weisz as Catherine and Gerard Butler as Doctor Cukrowicz.
But this film version is actually extremely good. The cast more or less speaks for itself. Katherine Hepburn is not quite as repulsive as I imagine Mrs Venable to have become, but this is a movie version after all and somehow Katherine Hepburn seemed to become increasingly ghastly as the movie goes on - strong work on her part and the Director's part I shouldn't wonder. Taylor and Clift are predictably good.
Most Tennessee William's plays had their endings tampered with for Hollywood and this piece is no exception. However, there is only a subtle difference between the ending of the film and the ending of the play, unlike the cringe-inducing changes to some ("Streetcar" and "Cat" being the main offenders).
This is not William's best-known piece, but it is one of my favourites and this film version also slots in right up there with the very, very best.
Well worth seeing, is this.
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