Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

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Movie Info & Cast

Synopsis

This dynamic and commanding adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play focuses on a troubled Southern family and the discord over their dying father's millions. Wealthy plantation owner Big Daddy Pollitt (Burl Ives), celebrating his 65th birthday, is visited by his sons, Brick (Paul Newman) and Gooper (Jack Carson). He has cancer, but a doctor has deliberately and falsely declared it in remission. Seemingly perfect son Gooper and his wife, Mae (Madeleine Sherwood), have several children and are anxiously expecting to inherit Daddy's millions. By contrast, Big Daddy's favorite, Brick, is a has-been football star who's taken to drinking his days away since the suicide of his best friend a year earlier. He resents his wife, Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor), because he believes that she had an affair with his deceased friend. As a result, he refuses to sleep with her, although she remains devoted to him. Since Brick and Maggie have failed to produce any grandchildren, Big Daddy is inclined to leave his estate to Gooper, but Maggie attempts to prevent that by telling him that she is pregnant. Big Daddy knows better, yet he recognizes that Maggie loves Brick so much that she would be willing to do anything for him. Although Brick is self-destructive and resentful, unable to come to terms with his losses, it takes Big Daddy's recognition of his own mortality to make Brick change his perspective. Brick's struggle with his sexual identity, and the nature of his relationship with his friend, had to be toned down for mass consumption, although this intelligently written and acted film covers such topics as infertility, adultery, and alcoholism that were still considered taboo in the 1950s. Newman brings depth and feeling to the role as Brick, while Taylor succeeds brilliantly in portraying Maggie as a passionate and understanding woman despite her own real-life emotional turmoil over the death of her husband at the time, producer Mike Todd.~ Don Kaye, All Movie Guide

Cast

  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Paul Newman
  • Burl Ives
  • Jack Carson
  • Judith Anderson
  • Madeleine Sherwood
  • Larry Gates
  • Vaughn Taylor
  • Zelda Cleaver
  • Brian Corcoran

Did You Know?

Trivia

  • George Cukor turned down MGM's offer to direct this movie because the references to Brick's homosexuality had been removed.
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Goofs

  • After Brick tries to drive away and gets stuck, Maggie goes out to him and helps him into the house through the pouring rain. Her hair is soaking wet, but the next time we see her, it's perfectly dry and styled.
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Quotes

    • Harvey 'Big Daddy' Pollitt: I've got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?
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Atom User Reviews

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Metacritic

100

A searing portrait of the human condition. [12 Oct 2007, p.B6]

Metacritic review by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
50

The performances are sweltering...This isn’t a good thing. Yes, it’s fitting for the setting – a humid, suffocating Louisiana mansion where the family of an ailing tycoon (Burl Ives) connives to inherit his fortune – but the overall result is like watching a melodrama in a sauna. It’s just too much.

Josh Larsen
LarsenOnFilm