Reviewed byLechuguillaVote: 9/10/10
Sultry and downbeat, this Richard Brooks directed film is set at aSouthern plantation where a dysfunctional family celebrates the 65thbirthday of family patriarch Big Daddy (Burl Ives), a portly man whosehealth, or the lack of it, is very much on the minds of all the familymembers. The story centers on one of Big Daddy's two sons, a broodingyoung man named Brick (Paul Newman) and his childless wife Maggie(Elizabeth Taylor).
Brick is reticent and repressed for reasons unknown, and finds reliefin alcohol. Beautiful Maggie is concerned that Brick's indifference toBig Daddy may cost them their share of the family inheritance, at thehands of Brick's brother and scheming sister-in-law. Adding fuel to thefire is Brick's prepubescent nieces and nephews, in-your-face brats,whom Maggie refers to, not kindly, as little "no-neck" monsters. BigMomma (Judith Anderson) just wants Big Daddy to be physically well, andfor everyone to get along.
Of course, with a big inheritance on the line, tension erupts, firstbetween Brick and Maggie, then later between them and everyone else. Asthe tension mounts, arguments erupt into a real down-home Southern soapopera.
The film's script is heavy on dialogue. But because of the story'sthematic depth, the issues are interesting and insightful, and thescript never seems talky. At the heart of the story is the subject ofmendacity, of lies and not telling the truth. There is considerableemotional pain, expressed as anger, resentment, and sarcasm. The story,originated by Tennessee Williams, goes against its era, in that itcontradicts the virtues of traditional family values and capitalism.
Casting and acting are quite good. But Burl Ives' performance iswonderful, and alone makes the film worth watching. Colorcinematography is conventional. It's a slow-paced film with long camera"takes". Sets and production design are lavish.
Because the dreadful Hays Code censored much of the thematic content in1958, the film's conclusion is weak and does not justify Brick'semotional state. This is not a criticism of the film, but of the HaysCode itself which, mercifully, was abolished in the 1960s.
Dripping with Southern atmosphere, and with a sultry jazz score, "CatOn A Hot Tin Roof" is a terrific movie, for its thematic value, itscast, and the splendid performance of Burl Ives.
Reviewed byian_harrisVote: 8/10/10
I first encountered "Cat" in a fine National Theatre production in 1988 withLindsay Duncan as Maggie, Ian Charleson as Brick, Eric Porter as Big Daddy,Paul Jessons as Gooper and Alison Steadman as Mae.
The film is not the play, but you don't often get an opportunity to see afine cast perform this amazing play, and it needs a finecast.
The movie has a fine cast. The movie grips you from start to finish. Themovie even adds a little; the basement scene works wonderfully in the moviein ways that would be hard or impossible to reproduce onstage.
Yes, the play has been bowdlerised to make it into a movie, but what do youexpect in 1958. The reality is, this film is a piece of cinema and dramahistory. You'd need to be a "Williams Fundamentalist" to hate the movie forits toned-down-ness. To the balanced Williams fan, it is gripping, wellacted and nicely-paced.
Once every 10-15 years there is a truly fine production of this play in aworld-class theatre. If you get the chance, go see a great production inthe theatre. In between times, this movie is a very goodsecond.
Reviewed byhall895Vote: 8/10/10
The best thing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has going for it is one trulyremarkable acting performance. And that performance comes from neitherElizabeth Taylor nor Paul Newman. There's nothing wrong with the workturned in by Taylor and Newman, they are both perfectly fine in theirroles. And it is their characters who are the focus for most of thefilm. But late on in the proceedings Burl Ives grabs hold of the filmand makes it his own. Ives turns in a performance which is so strongand powerful that it threatens to overshadow and overwhelm everythingelse in the film. However it is rather difficult to overshadowElizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. And the film's rather simple story iscertainly compelling enough so as not to be overwhelmed by the Ivestour de force near the end. So while Ives may end up being the mostmemorable thing the film has to offer he is certainly not the onlymemorable thing. His great performance is merely the best part of whatis an overall thoroughly satisfying film.
The film's simple story centers around a day in the life of a wealthySouthern family. With this family the key word is "mendacity". Whatdoes that even mean? Any of our characters who initially don't knowabout mendacity surely will by the time the story plays itself out. Aswe meet them everyone has come together to celebrate the 65th birthdayof family patriarch Big Daddy. Initially it seems the film is about BigDaddy's son Brick and his wife Maggie the Cat. Brick and Maggie are notcurrently in the throes of wedded bliss. To say their relationship isstrained would be putting it mildly. The fact that alcohol seems to bethe only thing in life Brick is at all interested in probably does nothelp matters. But as the film progresses we see there is a larger issuethan Brick and Maggie's troubled marriage. Big Daddy is dying. Andnobody, not his family and not his doctors, has the guts to tell him.This will ultimately play itself out in powerful, heartrending fashion.
For much of the film's running time you would call it compelling butcertainly not spectacular. But then Ives, as Big Daddy, grabs the filmby its throat and shakes some real life into it. There's a scene whereIves as Big Daddy and Newman as Brick are alone in a basement whichsimply could not have been performed any better. There's so much thesecharacters have to say to one another. The emotion is raw and the sceneis so powerful. It hits you right in the heart. Just this one scenealone, with these two great actors, elevates the film all by itself.Newman is terrific. Ives is astounding. Perhaps it is in fact possibleto overshadow Elizabeth Taylor. Maybe just this once. Maggie the Cat isan intriguing character in her own right and Taylor certainly doesn'tdisappoint in the role. But it turns out that ultimately the film isreally about the relationship between Brick and his father, not Brickand his wife. And as such it is Newman, and most especially Ives, whoyou will most remember. It is their work which transforms a good movieinto something truly memorable.
The family of "Big Daddy" Pollitt convenes at his and Big Momma's vast 28,000 acre East Mississippi plantation for his sixty-fifth birthday, although it may as well be for his funeral on the belief that he is dying. Despite his latest medical report being clean, in reality he truly does have terminal colon cancer, something the doctor only tells Big Daddy's two sons, Gooper Pollitt, a lawyer, and Brick Pollitt, who recently left his job as a sportscaster. Brooding Brick and his wife Maggie Pollitt, who have driven up from New Orleans for the occasion, are going through a long rough patch in their marriage. Brick wanted to split, but Maggie convinced him to stay married on the condition that she not pressure him for sex. In their troubles, Brick has turned to the bottle, leading to a drunken incident which has left Brick currently on crutches. Maggie believes Gooper and his wife Mae Pollitt are trying to orchestrate Brick out of Big Daddy's will. Brick and Maggie's saving grace is Big ...