Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Director: Richard Brooks
USA 1958
108 min

Brick (played by blue eyed Paul Newman) is an alcoholic ex-football player with a broken leg, who has a (for a start) unexplicable disgust for his devoted wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor). The location is Brick's parents' home, were his cancer sick father, Big Daddy (Burl Ives), is celebrating his 65th birthday. With them is also the family of Brick's brother, a pregnant and infiltrating wife with plans to take over the mansion, and five poorly raised children.

I recently read that both Lana Turner and Grace Kelly were considered to play the role of Maggie. I'm just happy that they made the right choice - Taylor, with her childlike voice and feminine body, is like a devil in disguise. You don't really know were she stands, which is brilliant for a chamber drama like this, with intence mood and an escalating plot.
The consideration for the role of Brick is just laughable when you have seen Newman in the film. (Even if you haven't, it is still bizarre.) Elvis. Yes, Elvis Presley. I'm glad his "Colonel" said no. Newman as Brick is beyond criticism - he is just perfect.

Paul Newman - criminal sexy.

Scene: Brick and Maggie have a marital argument.

The script is based on Tennesse Williams' play from 1955. He was so disappointed in the movie adaption that he stated that "this movie will set the industry back 50 years. Go home!".
It is not difficult to see why the writer, the creator, was disappointed when you consider the fact that a large piece is missing from the original script - the reference to Brick's homosexuality.
The removal of that part not only made Paul Newman very disappointed, the originally planned director George Cukor also turned down the job because of it.
However, at the time it almost wasn't possible to have anything like that in the movie, due to the Hollywood Production Code.

Tennesse Williams had Burl Ives in mind when writing the role of Big Daddy.

Despite the homosexuality part missing, this film may be one of the greatest dramas made in Hollywood during the 1950's. You get sucked into the intrigue directly in the introduction scene. The dialogue is brilliant (but we are talking about Tennesse Williams, so who would be surprised?), the actors are at their peakes (even though, at the time, the audience were sceptical to Burl Ives, the folk singer) and the tension between the characters rises at the speed of light. When the movie ended, both me and my friend Elenova were shivering. And this after seeing it about ten times!

The glorious Liz Taylor.


Brick Pollitt: What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?
Maggie Pollitt: Just staying on it I guess, long as she can.

Brick Pollitt: I don't have to do anything I don't want to! Now, you keep forgetting the conditions on which I agreed to stay on living with you.
Maggie Pollitt: I'm not living with you! We occupy the same cage, that's all.

'Big Daddy' Pollitt: Let's go home.
'Big Momma' Pollitt: Don't you want to ride with the children, honey?
'Big Daddy' Pollitt: No!
'Big Momma' Pollitt: [laughing] He's his sassy old self again, all right!
'Big Daddy' Pollitt: Be quiet, woman!

'Big Daddy' Pollitt: You won't live with mendacity? Well, you're an expert at it! The truth is pain and sweat and payin' bills and makin' love to a woman that you don't love any more. Truth is dreams that don't come true, and nobody prints your name in the paper 'til you die.


The Divine Miss J said...

I never really realized that you kinda look like Elizabeth Taylor.

You're still a Louise Brooks lookalike but there is some Taylor in there too. The eyes I think, or moore specific: the eyebrows.

Well on to the movie now, this is a wonderfull film. I love Paul Newmans preformance. And the parents! Aren't they just peachy?!

Lolita said...

The Divine Miss J:
Oh! I will see to it that I paint my eyebrows a little bit thicker, so I look like Maggie the Cat!

Paul Newman's performance, oh yes. But what do you say about that scene where he puts on a white shirt, and you see his divine upper body? Oh boy, my sexual fantasies in a nutshell.

The parents are lovely, why wasn't I blessed with them? Or their money, at least.
But I think the character I can identify with mostly is Mae, the soon to be five-children-mother. "Hey eys yo feust bourn!"
I think I'm gonna throw up...