Up 439 this week

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  22 December 1959 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 9,608 users  
Reviews: 116 user | 37 critic

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.


(play), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


Fall TV: 15 Returning TV Shows Worth Binge Watching

Which returning shows do we recommend binging on? We've picked out 15 great options for you. Read this and more lists in our Fall TV section.

Read our list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 44 images
created 20 Apr 2011
a list of 27 titles
created 09 Sep 2013
a list of 43 titles
created 8 months ago
a list of 44 titles
created 2 months ago
a list of 45 titles
created 1 month ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) on IMDb 7.7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Suddenly, Last Summer.

User Polls

Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A graduating poet/teacher falls in love with a Southern woman, and then the Civil War and her past create problems.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Eva Marie Saint
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A poor boy gets a job working for his rich uncle and ends up falling in love with two women.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters
BUtterfield 8 (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The romantic life of a fashionable Manhattan beauty who's part model, part call-girl--and all man-trap.

Director: Daniel Mann
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey, Eddie Fisher
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

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.

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives
The Heiress (1949)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson
Giant (1956)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Sprawling epic covering the life of a Texas cattle rancher and his family and associates.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

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 »

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Paul Newman, Geraldine Page, Shirley Knight
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A bitter aging couple with the help of alcohol, use a young couple to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Author Eugene O'Neill gives an autobiographical account of his explosive homelife, fused by a drug-addicted mother, a father who wallows in drink after realizing he is no longer a famous ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards
Elephant Walk (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The young bride of a rich planter finds herself the only white woman at Elephant Walk tea plantation, British Ceylon.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Dana Andrews, Peter Finch
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Bizarre tale of sex, betrayal, and perversion at a military post.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Brian Keith
The Search (1948)
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In the Post-War Berlin, an American private helps a lost Czech boy to find his mother.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Montgomery Clift, Ivan Jandl, Aline MacMahon


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


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

Plot Keywords:

poet | operation | spain | memory | widow | See All (56) »


Suddenly, last summer, Cathy knew she was being used for something evil! See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De repente en el verano  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The allusion to Herman Melville and the Galapagos islands refers to the "The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles", a series of "sketches," or short prose works, about the Galapagos Islands written primarily from Melville's own experience sailing around the islands. See more »


At the films opening a title says, "1935" but the films hair, makeup and costumes are obviously 1959. See more »


Dr. Lawrence J. Hockstader: [after Catherine reveals what happened to Sebastian last summer] There's every possibility that the girl's story is true!
See more »


Referenced in What's My Line?: Episode dated 15 May 1960 (1960) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

good adaptation of Williams play
23 November 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Katharine Hepburn is a wealthy woman who uses her checkbook in the hopes of having her niece lobotomized in "Suddenly, Last Summer," a 1959 film directed by Joseph Mankiewicz and starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift, and Mercedes McCambridge. Hepburn plays Mrs. Venable, whose son, Sebastian, died the previous summer of a heart attack. However, her niece Cathy, who accompanied Sebastian, has had a sort of breakdown and is institutionalized. Mrs. Venable wants Cathy lobotomized. Before doing so, however, the gifted surgeon (Clift), sent there by his boss as Mrs. Venable dangles money for the hospital in front of him, becomes determined instead to find out what happened and how Sebastian really died.

This is a film that would never be made today - it's character-driven and has too much dialogue. It's a shame because the dialogue is excellent. A previous Mankiewicz film, "All About Eve," is word-rich as well, and there the dialogue sparkles. Here it is more poetic. And, like "Eve," the great roles are the womens.

Though references to homosexuality are only inferred, this film and the much more poorly adapted "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" hold up very well today. With homosexuality much more discussed, the role this plays in both plots is very obvious, at least to this viewer. In "Suddenly, Last Summer," Sebastian's proclivities are evident from the beginning as Mrs. Venable describes an almost husband-wife relationship with her son, claiming to the surgeon that Sebastian was "chaste" and that her relationship with him was enough for her son.

One of the comments here mentioned that "Cathy is crazy, like all Williams heroines." But in truth, Cathy like Blanche is disturbed (though Blanche may be a little closer to being nuts) and both are "put away" to shut them up - Blanche for her accusations against Stanley and Cathy because she knows how Sebastian really died.

Katharine Hepburn gives a brilliant performance as Mrs. Venable - charming but made of steel, her anger and jealousy toward her niece just barely beneath the surface. Elizabeth Taylor gives one of her best performances under the strong direction of Mankiewicz. Taylor was blessed with great beauty but alas, not a great speaking voice. However, she is nevertheless very effective, particularly in her long, harrowing monologue near the end of the film.

Clift's passive portrayal of the surgeon is problematic, and one wonders why he was cast. The opening scene in which he performs an operation had to be redone many times because of his drunkenness and codeine addiction - he was washing down the pills with brandy; his voice quavers, he is unsteady on his feet, and his eyes are glassy. He comes off a little better in the previous year's "Lonelyhearts," though in that film, he actually winces in pain when he has to sit. While Clift had the support of his fellow actors, he had none from Mankiewicz and producer Sam Spiegel. Had it not been for Elizabeth Taylor's insistence, he would have been replaced. It seems cruel (as it did to Hepburn at the time) but Mankiewicz was trying to make a movie and Spiegel wanted it to be on budget - Clift's addictions and physical problems weren't helping. He couldn't remember lines; when he finally said them, he was often inaudible; and he was always late arriving on the set. Fortunately for audiences, this wasn't his last big-budget role. Under the direction of Elia Kazan, he would do the magnificent "Wild River" and seemingly be more in control.

Despite this, "Suddenly, Last Summer" is an excellent, disturbing film, and is highly recommended. It's not Williams' best play, but it is served well in its film adaptation.

36 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Can someone explain the sexual bait 'n' switch? miriamwebster
Taylor at height of beauty hud9150
Vivien Leigh in Hepburn's part? b3405
the real nature of sebastian wencer
attack erhelin-1
St. Sebastian = homosexual icon cheesebomb1156
Discuss Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: