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
Powerful stuff (for the time) with a great performance from Hepburn
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.
10 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this