8.1/10
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153 user 75 critic

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

Not Rated | | Drama | 29 August 1958 (USA)
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

Writers:

Richard Brooks (screenplay), James Poe (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Elizabeth Taylor ... Maggie Pollitt
Paul Newman ... Brick Pollitt
Burl Ives ... Big Daddy Pollitt
Jack Carson ... Gooper Pollitt
Judith Anderson ... Big Momma Pollitt
Madeleine Sherwood ... Mae Pollitt
Larry Gates ... Dr. Baugh
Vaughn Taylor ... Deacon Davis
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Storyline

The family of "Big Daddy" Pollitt convenes at his and Big Momma's vast 28,000 acre East Mississippi plantation for his sixty-fifth birthday, although it may as well be for his funeral on the belief that he is dying. Despite his latest medical report being clean, in reality he truly does have terminal colon cancer, something the doctor only tells Big Daddy's two sons, Gooper Pollitt, a lawyer, and Brick Pollitt, who recently left his job as a sportscaster. Brooding Brick and his wife Maggie Pollitt, who have driven up from New Orleans for the occasion, are going through a long rough patch in their marriage. Brick wanted to split, but Maggie convinced him to stay married on the condition that she not pressure him for sex. In their troubles, Brick has turned to the bottle, leading to a drunken incident which has left Brick currently on crutches. Maggie believes Gooper and his wife Mae Pollitt are trying to orchestrate Brick out of Big Daddy's will. Brick and Maggie's saving grace is Big ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

All the sultry drama of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize winning Play is now on the screen! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 August 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Katze auf dem heißen Blechdach See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$17,570,324

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$25,472,824
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Avon Productions (II) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Perspecta Sound®) (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Elia Kazan directed "Cat" on Broadway, he was not involved in the film, despite having two cinematic successes with Tennessee Williams work A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and Baby Doll (1956). Kazan had had trouble with Williams, demanding that he rewrite the third act of the play to bring Big Daddy back on stage. He also was tired of having critics call him a "co-author" of Williams work, which he knew he was not. He would eventually direct one more Williams play on Broadway, Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), but that film also would be directed by Richard Brooks. See more »

Goofs

When Doc Baugh comes upstairs to tell Brick about Big Daddy's real condition, he examines Brick's leg and discusses football with him. In the course of that conversation, Brick alludes to a game played against "Bama State", meaning Alabama State. Bama State (Alabama State) is a historically black university in Montgomery. During the 1950s, Brick's college (presumably Ole Miss) would not have been allowed to play a historically black college. The choice of "Bama State" by the writers was a factual mistake, in that such a game could not have occurred under any circumstances in that era. See more »

Quotes

Harvey 'Big Daddy' Pollitt: So you bought me a birthday present, huh?
Brick Pollitt: No sir, Maggie bought it.
Harvey 'Big Daddy' Pollitt: She's got good taste, that girl.
Brick Pollitt: In some things, yes, but not in men.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Atomic Brain (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Lost in a Summer Night
(uncredited)
Composed by André Previn and Milton Raskin
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The irony of it all
29 April 2006 | by debblystSee all my reviews

Some 95% of the IMDb comments on "Cat..." concentrate on its stars/performances, and justly so: that's about all there is to this static, bowdlerized adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play. In 1958, director/writer Richard Brooks had the questionable distinction of bastardizing TWO masterpieces in the SAME year, Williams' "Cat..." and Dostoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" (remember that ending?).

"Cat..." is basically an all-talk psychodrama (if you're not fluent in English, be prepared to read a lot of subtitles!), as we watch a dysfunctional family dysfunctioning to the hilt, in another of Williams' exorcism of his ghosts (in "Cat..." 's particular case: his relationship with his brutish father, his coming out of the closet, his alcoholism, his tragic relationship back in the 1940s with his first male lover that eventually left him to get married, only to die of a brain tumor in 1944 with Williams at his deathbed).

It's difficult to take this adaptation seriously when two of the main themes of the play were either entirely eliminated (homosexualism) or trivialized (alcoholism -- how can a serious drunkard look as healthy and fresh-faced as Paul Newman?). The problem of eliminating the homosexual innuendos of Brick's relationship with Skipper -- besides the grave fact that Brooks betrayed the very core of the play -- is that Brooks doesn't come up with anything consistent in its place. The "new" motivations for Brick's trauma (that led him to become an alcoholic and sexually reject Maggie) are at first vaguely mysterious and then an over-sized bubble, because they amount to nothing much.

What Brooks did to the play was worse than white-washing; it was an act of...mendacity!! Oh, the irony of it all:)

Williams himself dismissed Brooks' adaptation, saying it looked "like prostitution or corruption", that he "cheats on the material, sweetens it up and makes it all hunky-dory". It's said Williams even publicly advised audiences not to see the movie. Nevertheless, he wasn't exactly physically tortured to accept (reportedly) half a million dollars for the film rights :) Anyway, he would show Brooks and Hollywood a thing or two the next year, when he adapted (with Gore Vidal) his own play "Suddenly Last Summer" for the screen, making homosexuality its unequivocal (though encrypted) center, even if homosexual "pervert" Sebastian gets his "deserved punishment" at the end, being literally eaten alive!

Brooks' version of "Cat..." is disappointingly static; the camera's only interested in its stars. But then, what stars! Taylor and Newman are really one of the most spectacular screen couples ever. Liz -- probably never more beautiful -- hadn't however finished peeling off that early "nice girl" quality (it was her first real "nasty" role) and still lacked the delicious "trampiness" that would bloom in the 60s (though she has a shrill laughing scene by the mirror, at the beginning, that is delightfully vulgar and sexy). Paul Newman, also at his hottest, tries hard (and he's always pretty aware of his cinematic wooing powers) but is ultimately miscast: looking invariably sober and impeccably healthy, with not a shadow of anguish in his All-American brow, he doesn't succeed in portraying the compulsion to drink, the nihilist decay, the uptight despair to his part (imagine what Brando or Clift could have brought to the role). It's very hard to think of him as the complete loser Brick is. Burl Ives, physically impressive, chews everything around him in the Emil-Jannings-acting-school fashion (OK, so Big Daddy is bigger than life -- one more reason to smuggle in an occasional subtlety). Jack Carson is wasted in the under-developed part of his potentially very interesting character (Brick's underdog brother Gooper). Judith Anderson as the hysterical, torn apart Big Mama, and Madeleine Sherwood, as the nightmarish hag "sister-woman", have a ball with their roles, all stops out.

"Cat..." is ultimately disappointing because it's glamorous when it should have been grim, and just repetitive when it should have been obsessive. However, it has star power to spare, some of the dialog is Williams at his poisonous best and there are some undeniably effective scenes: when Big Mama confronts Maggie saying that troubles in marriage have but one cause -- while firmly pounding her open hand on Maggie's mattress -- the film suddenly becomes alive for a moment.


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