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.
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.
At Maria Vargas' funeral, several people recall who she was and the impact she had on them. Harry Dawes was a not very successful writer/director when he and movie producer Kirk Edwards ... See full summary »
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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
Because of years of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse, Montgomery Clift was considered uninsurable due to chronic ill health. Ordinarily that would have meant he would have been fired and replaced, but his good friend Elizabeth Taylor saved his job by insisting she would not do the film without him. See more »
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 »
In 1930's New Orleans, a wealthy and eccentric older woman named Mrs. Venable (Katharine Hepburn), wants a surgeon (Montgomery Clift) to perform a lobotomy on her niece (Elizabeth Taylor), for reasons that become clear toward the end of the film. This macabre Tennessee Williams story, with overlapping adult themes, must surely have been a shock to audiences in 1959. The film provides a great vehicle for the talents of both Hepburn whose acting is engaging, and Taylor whose performance is superb.
The Mankiewicz script is very talky. The characters of both Hepburn and Taylor engage in lengthy and at times tedious monologues. In all that talking, at least there are some really good lines. My favorite is near the beginning. In a nonchalant tone, Mrs. Venable tells us about the daily vicissitudes of Lady, the Venus flytrap that Mrs. Venable keeps in her garden. "Lady must be kept under glass, and while she is under glass, we have to provide her with flies, flown in at great expense." Priceless.
As one would expect for a film derived from a stage play, cinematography and music are less important than dialogue and acting. "Suddenly Last Summer" is worth viewing for its unusual story, and for the acting accomplishments of Hepburn and Taylor.
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