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Wick's Review

Created Dec 24, 2019 08:45AM PST • Edited Dec 27, 2019 08:28AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Very Good 3.5

    The eyes have it! Well, the eyes and the lies have it. The eyes belong to golden superstars Paul Newman & Elizabeth Taylor — his intense blue orbs opposite her intoxicating violet ones, no FX involved with either. The lies, well, the lies drive the story, with the fancy word “mendacity” bandied about like a verbal tic.

    All the lies between members of a rich extended family ultimately get revealed, but one, the biggest of all. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – to be a blockbuster movie – changed the core of the Pulitzer prize winning play so it would be accepted in 1958 America, whence it became a box-office smash. Namely, it concealed the illicit gay relationship that Tennessee Williams – a gay man from the South – used to put the plot in motion.

    Thus, its repressed homosexuality is bowdlerized from the story, robbing it of believability, but allowing a Hollywood happy ending. Would a close friend commit suicide because of a bad game? That’s weak tea.

    As the movie would have it, Paul Newman’s Brick is sexually repulsed by Elizabeth Taylor’s Maggie the Cat because of her possible infidelity, when it’s really because he’s not into women. The movie triggers disbelief since La Liz proved time and again that husbands were attracted to her no matter what she did.

    Flaws aside, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is an all-time great dysfunctional family drama: father-son, brother-brother, mother-son, scheming in-laws, hangers-on, husbands-wives, including Brick & Maggie the Cat.

    It’s also a moviestar showcase extraordinaire – a Liz Taylor triumph and part of the Paul Newman canon.1

    Lastly, it pictures the Jim Crow South as if in amber, a society rife with race, class and privilege disparities.

    In short, the 1958 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a richly rewarding and very sexy must-see for any movie buff.

    1 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is one of her 4 IMDb Known Fors (of 79 movies), yet not one of his (84 movies).

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Elizabeth Taylor plays a pitiable paradox, an object of desire whose husband doesn’t desire her. She got great acclaim for making Maggie the Cat a woman in full, super sexy sure, but equally loving and crafty and resilient and – oh yes – vain. It is indubitably one of the great screen queen performances of all time.

    Of note: One of the tragedies that defined her operatic life occurred during the filming of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when Mike Todd, the love of Liz Taylor’s life, was killed in a plane crash. Wikipedia has the details.

    Paul Newman made a perfect Brick Pollitt, pro football star and favored son of Mississippi’s richest man. Oh yeah, he’s also a hard-core active alcoholic and closeted homosexual, that last a fact the movie conceals. Newman was already a moviestar, but Brick Pollitt garnered him the first of his ten Oscar nominations.

    • Burl Ives plays the heavy as “Big Daddy” Pollitt, with Judith Anderson as “Big Mama”.
      Ives had the baritone voice if not the idealized body for the role.
    • Jack Carson uses his comic chops as disfavored brother “Gooper” Pollitt.
    • Madeleine Sherwood nearly steals the show as his wife, “Sister Woman” Pollitt.
    • Larry Gates & Vaughn Taylor play family hangers-on, a doctor and a deacon respectively.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Very Good 3.5

    Tennessee Williams was at the peak of his powers when he wrote Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1955. The film came along three years later, a huge hit both commercially and critically, notwithstanding Williams being horrified that the gay relationship at its core was concealed.

  9. Direction Great 4.0
  10. Play Very Good 3.5
  11. Music Good 3.0
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.7
  15. Sex Titillating 1.8
  16. Violence Fierce 1.6
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.8
  18. Glib 1.3

    Elizabeth Taylor’s hair gets drenched in a rainstorm and is shortly thereafter perfectly coiffed. Oops.

    Hollywood tricks aside and notwithstanding the movie’s concealed gay relationship, what most stands out about Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 2019 is its highly stylized and idealized portrayal of the Jim Crow South.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.9
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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