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.
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
This film was an adaptation of a one-act play by Tennessee Williams that was originally performed Off-Broadway on a double bill with another one-act play by Tennessee Williams, "Something Unspoken". The double bill was presented under the title of "Garden District" and opened on January 7, 1958 at the York Playhouse in New York. The original stage production of "Suddenly, Last Summer" starred Anne Meacham as Catherine, Hortense Alden as Mrs. Venable, and Alan Mixon as George Holly. This same double bill of one-act plays was presented on Broadway, again under the title "Garden District", in 1995. This production starred Elizabeth Ashley as Mrs. Venable, Jordan Baker as Catherine and Mitchell Lichtenstein as George Holly. This version opened Oct 10, 1995 at the Circle in the Square Theater and ran for 31 performances. See more »
Violet's hand jumps from her neck to her mouth when she tells the doctor that Sebastian had been looking for hungry birds. See more »
(POSSIBLE SPOILER)...Gothic decadence gives Taylor and Hepburn striking roles...
While the symbolism here is about as heavy as a sledgehammer, it's offered in such artfully poetic style that only writers of the caliber of Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal could give us. What they have done is provide KATHARINE HEPBURN with a role that fits her like a glove and where her mannered acting sits comfortably on a role she was born to play. She is totally mesmerizing as Mrs. Venable, a woman who has lavished all her hopes and dreams on her only son only to have them all swept away on a brutal summer day, "suddenly, last summer", under the hot Mediteranean sun. She gets to spout the most poetic dialog in the film, with ELIZABETH TAYLOR not far behind, especially during their frequent monologues.
This leaves MONTGOMERY CLIFT, as a surgeon who is asked to perform a lobotomy on Miss Taylor, hovering in the background and looking like a frightened sparrow most of the time, although it is he who uncovers the truth about last summer. Mr. Clift must have been at a difficult phase of his own personal life because he performs in a stiff, robot-like manner that makes him seem dubious as a skilled surgeon with steady hands.
All of this is highly melodramatic as only Tennessee Williams can muster, while at the same time affording us the luxury of watching two commanding performances from Hepburn and Taylor that were justifiably nominated for Oscars.
The tale seems burdened by too much heavy-handed poetry but somehow it holds the attention because of the forceful acting by a fine cast. Mercedes McCambridge is a standout as Taylor's mother in the sort of fluttery, birdbrain role one might suspect would be offered to Billie Burke if this had been filmed in the 1940s.
By the end of the film, Miss Hepburn is so far removed from reality that she thinks Dr. Sugar (Montgomery Clift) is her son Sebastian and seems more like a candidate for lobotomy than the plucky Miss Taylor. Taylor never quite has the air of vulnerability that the role demands, but she gives a colorful, if strident, performance as the poor victimized girl who was used as bait by her playboy cousin.
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