Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Oh Elizabeth Taylor. You were such an icon. You kind of ruled the movie industry. And your life was such a soap opera. But you’re still amazing. RIP, lady. Sadly, there are quite a few of her movies that I haven’t seen yet. Nothing like a death to get you rolling, so here I am.
First of all, Paul Newman’s in this movie. I’m kind of in love with that blue-eyed hunk. Taylor plays our “cat on a hot tin roof,” Maggie, and is married to Paul (his name is Brick) an alcoholic ex-football player. I don’t know about you folks, but initially I thought that Maggie was our bad guy character. She’s sassy, standoffish and rude. You’re not quite sure if her pleas for affection from Brick are out of sexual selfishness or genuine love. But then the story slowly unfolds and turns out Brick’s kind of a bum. And an ignorant jerk. Maggie’s still sassy and rude and standoffish, but she’s got good intentions.
Their marriage is on the rocks (and childless). Brick’s father “Big Daddy” (Burl Ives) is dying of cancer. The house is full of screaming “no-neck” kids. Brick’s brother Gooper (Jack Carson) and wife (Madeleine Sherwood) are idiots, bickering over who gets what when he dies and trash talking about Brick. Big Mama (Judith Anderson) is just freaking out. It’s all a big mess – everyone’s lying to everybody and nobody is getting along. Except the oblivious kids maybe.
All of this tension is even more eminent transpiring in such close quarters and all in one sitting. Everything takes place in a aingle evening. It’s hard to tell how long Brick has been dealing with this crisis of identity and basically how long he’s been completely self centered, wallowing in his problems and reliving “the glory days.” In some ways, it seems like the story is unveiled almost too organized. Problem- digging into man’s subconscious- solution-type of deal. Could all of those deep psychological issues be fixed with one pow-wow with the pops? Just a thought.
But this is still a great movie. Based off the Pulitzer prize winning play by Tennessee Williams, the script is still good though apparently deviating dramatically from the original (like a prominent homosexual theme?) The acting is also great and I’m ASTONISHED that Burl Ives wasn’t nominated. He was my favorite part (well, except for looking at Paul Newman that is…) Elizabeth Taylor is a firey spirit as always and she’s perfect for the role. Newman is also excellent – proof that he has range as an actor. It’s one of those movies where every single person is perfect in their role. I also enjoyed Judith Anderson’s performance as Big Mama.
The selling point is the ever-present tension. It literally fogs your screen it’s so heavy. And man, who wouldn’t feel stressed with all of that bickering and chaotic children. It’s excellently directed by Richard Brooks. The climax between Brick and Big Daddy is the explosion after a ticking bomb. It’s perfectly set and the ending is dang satisfactory. Full of sizzle. Yes, I just used the word sizzle.
And did I mention that I love Paul Newman’s blue eyes? 7/10