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Tommy Lee Jones,
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The original play "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" by Tennessee Williams opened at the Morosco Theater in New York on March 24, 1955, ran for 694 performances and was nominated for the 1956 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play. The play also won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1955. See more »
While I haven't seen very much of the highly-touted 1958 film version of Tennessee Williams's play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor (arguably the most attractive stars of their respective times), the film itself from what I've read was censored and given a tacked on ending to appease the Hayes Code and Catholic League of Decency. I'd imagine the actors were cast well for the parts, but it would likely be best to have the full power and conviction and very human tragedy of Brick to be most effective. Since then the play has been produced countless times in all parts of the country (not least of which on Broadway, where as recent as the past few years an all-black cast was put together for a revival), and as with this 1985 live-taped show, some of it was broadcast as it was for the masses.
I saw the a video of this production, featuring Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Lange, and Rip Torn, in a Modern Drama class at my old college, and it definitely left an impact after already going over the play in heavy lit-analysis mode. It is, of course, hampered by being a filmed taping of a live performance, but in this limitation it's great to just watch the actors fully embody these characters on their own terms. And, more often than not, it's dynamite; it might even be some of the best acting Torn has ever done, on stage or in film, as the tough "Big Daddy" character who gets a big powerhouse act to spar off of Jones in his conflicted, repressed homosexual character grieving his friend's suicide. Lange, by the way, is excellent in her sultry but depressed wife who is ignored/belittled by Brick.
So, as I can't really give a base of comparison between original film version and this, I can simply say that, for what it's worth, it gives fans of Williams and the play itself their money's worth (or TV-viewing time worth, if it happens to ever play again on a channel). Find it on video if you can!
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