Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), directed by Richard Brooks.

Dysfunctional family birthday party at a big house in the Delta. Lots of screaming and scheming over money. Fine performances all around, with Liz Taylor in her exceedingly gorgeous phase.

Grouchy, overbearing Big Daddy (Burl Ives) is dying of cancer and he and his wife are the last to know. Second son Brick (Paul Newman) has hit the bottle and either hates his wife Maggie (Taylor) or wants her to think he does. Either way: no sex no matter how much she begs. And no kids, which is a big issue in the family.

The back story is toned down a bit for the film, but in summary: Brick had a football pal named Skipper and Maggie suspected them of being too close. Much too close. So she seduced Skipper to break them up and he jumped from a high window to his death. And now Brick is drinking.

Judith Anderson is Big Momma and Jack Carson, who did comic bit parts for many years, is here the pathetic number one son, Gooper, who has always done everything his parents asked and is not loved or respected by either.

The camera needs to be inobtrusive in a story like this and it seems to practically vanish. It moves when the characters move and is still when they are, achieving different vertical perspectives for variety.

Tennessee Williams hated this film version of his play. I don't remember seeing it before but liked it more than I expected. And my Williams / O'Neill / Miller ticket is punched for another six months. Yeah!