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Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Approved | | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | January 1960 (USA)
2:43 | Trailer

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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.


Tennessee Williams (play), Gore Vidal (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Elizabeth Taylor ... Catherine Holly
Katharine Hepburn ... Mrs. Venable
Montgomery Clift ... Dr. Cukrowicz
Albert Dekker ... Dr. Hockstader
Mercedes McCambridge ... Mrs. Holly
Gary Raymond ... George Holly
Mavis Villiers ... Miss Foxhill
Patricia Marmont Patricia Marmont ... Nurse Benson
Joan Young Joan Young ... Sister Felicity
Maria Britneva ... Lucy
Sheila Robins Sheila Robins ... Dr. Hockstader's Secretary (as Sheila Robbins)
David Cameron 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


The One They're All Talking About! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

January 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Plötzlich im letzten Sommer See more »

Filming Locations:

Begur, Girona, Catalonia, Spain See more »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The last of three films that Elizabeth Taylor made with Montgomery Clift, following A Place in the Sun (1951) and Raintree County (1957). See more »


Clift mispronounces his penultimate line: "Mrs Venable?" as "Mrs Venerable?". See more »


Mrs. Venable: She suffers from something called dementia praecox.
Dr. Cukrowicz: Dementia praecox?
Mrs. Venable: Which is say, she's mad as a hatter, poor child.
See more »


Featured in Rich Hall's the Dirty South (2010) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Powerful stuff (for the time) with a great performance from Hepburn
12 November 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

New Orleans, 1937. Doctor Cukrowicz is summoned to the home of Violet Venable, he is encouraged to go by his father who sees a ripe opportunity to get a significant amount of funding directly out of the rich widow. Venable tells Cukrowicz of her niece, Catherine, who has been diagnosed as having a mental disease that causes her to have outbursts etc. She wants Cukrowicz to carry out a lobotomy on Kathryn without question. However Cukrowicz meets with Catherine and finds her trapped behind memories that she won't let herself remember. He tries to draw out whatever her stepmother is so desperate to have cut out.

I watched this with no prior knowledge of what it was about or any of the hidden themes that are brought out after viewing. I suspect I was able to come to it `clean' as a result. The plot starts simply and I wasn't sure where it was going. Then Mrs Venable is introduced and we learn of her desire to have Catherine lobotomised. This is followed by the question what happened to Sebastion (Venable's son) that has sent Catherine mad and sent Mrs Venable to the point where she wants to cut it out of her memory. This question looms large over the film and is very effective in driving the plot forward.

The clues are given all along to what a messed up situation the whole thing is and the final 15 minutes are powerful despite some weaknesses. The plot has talked up the romance part of the film between Catherine and Dr Cukrowicz, I assume to try and cover the unpleasant business and make it easier on a fifties audience, this takes away a little bit but didn't distract me too much from the central tale.

Hepburn is magnificent in her role and her opening scene does much to captivate you for the rest of the movie. Taylor is good but at times feels too polished to be in her character's predicament. Clift was too stale for me and didn't really stand out when placed beside these two actresses going hell for leather for their roles.

Overall I enjoyed this film. The tension of the central questions is built on well with mystery and dark secrets hinted at constantly. The underlying themes add to it but you don't lose anything if you don't see them and the dark secret is powerful and meaningful even if it must do well by the censors of the day. Glad I stumbled onto it.

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