2020 Blind Spot Series: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I'm back again doing the Blind Spot challenge. Truthfully I'm not sure if anyone is officially hosting it this year, but I enjoy the challenge so I'm just carrying on what Ryan started and Sofia continued.

What I knew going in: That it was based on a play.

Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) goes with her alcoholic and stuck in his glory days husband, Brick (Paul Newman) to his family home to celebrate his father, Big Daddy's(Burl Ives) birthday. But there's more to it then that, Big Daddy was recently at the hospital with a colon cancer diagnosis so the party is also a cover for going over matters of his estate. Maggie and Brick are in a rocky point in their marriage on top of it. 

The cast of characters range from okay to flat out deplorable. It's hard to root for anyone really. A lot of my sympathy for Maggie came from amusement over her calling her nieces and nephews "no neck monsters" (Seriously, those kids were awful) But it runs in the family. Brick, his brother, sister-in-law, and father are all various degrees of awful. His mother I just felt bad for. But even with unsympathetic characters it didn't make the film any less fun to watch.

It feels very much like the play it's adapted from. It mostly stays in a few sets, it's blocked much like a play would be and is very dialogue driven. It does feel slightly long for the amount of story, but it works well. 

Burl Ives was the standout as Big Daddy for me. He gives the best performance and Elizabeth Taylor is wonderful and beautiful as well. I also really enjoyed Madeleine Sherwood as Mae, Maggie's sister-in-law.
 I've never been a big Paul Newman fan, I thought he was the weak link here. I could never understand why Maggie fought so hard for him. I think I would've been on my way already if I were in her shoes.

This was a nice start to my 2020 Blind Spots. I'm glad I saw this.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: 
"Not only will I spit in your eye, I'll punch it black and blue." - Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor)

Comments

  1. A great review and you are so right about these people you never want to know. I know the play made it more prevalent that the Paul Newman character was actually gay. I saw it a couple of times and that’s ok for me. This was the big time to make talky pictures from broadway plays. I do recall Maggie talking a lot. Her dress was such a huge hit that women everywhere were buying up versions of this dress...which is beautiful

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    1. I wondered if there was more to that. I assumed it was just hinted so subtly because of the times. They could've been more explicit there. I loved Maggie's party dress!

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  2. This is one of those films that I do want to see as it's in my never-ending watchlist. I hope to catch up to it soon. I wonder who is the host of the Blind Spot Series for this year.

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  3. We're in prime Tennessee Williams territory here and his stuff is rife with suppressed anger about things people talk around rather than about but that's even more compounded this time out because of the Production Code.

    It's clear in the play that Brick was intimately involved with Skipper and that Maggie knew it but was determined to lure him back to her out of a mixture of love, lust and a longing for security.

    These characters are a pretty contemptible lot overall but I think the cast did a great job of getting the most out of them that was possible considering the constraints put upon them.

    I thought Paul Newman was fine, since his character probably is the most whitewashed owing to the Code I think he does what he can with what he has to work with but he's certainly been more impactful elsewhere.

    Gooper and Mae are reptiles looking for the prime advantage and poor Madeleine Sherwood really has nowhere to go with Mae other than to make her a termagant (and their children are the spawn of Satan) but Jack Carson (I'm a big fan of that terribly underrated actor!) really makes something of his scene when he finally lets out all the years of bitter frustration and resentment at always being pushed aside and devalued because Big Daddy loved Brick more.

    The same goes for Judith Anderson when Big Momma realizes how little she means to Big Daddy. Hers is the real heartbreaker of a character.

    But the film belongs to Burl Ives and Liz Taylor. Burl won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar the year this was made for the film The Big Country and he's wonderful in it but I would have rather seen him win for this. He dominates every second he's on the screen, Big Daddy may not be very likable but he makes him a relatable and real person.

    Elizabeth Taylor is at the peak of her beauty in this (she and Newman are so beautiful together it almost hurts!) but she is also in full command of Maggie. It's really incredible how firm and consistent her grasp on the character is since she was widowed in the middle of production when Mike Todd was killed in a plane crash and the film was temporarily shut down. There was brief talk of replacing her but she would have none of it and pulled herself together (at least professionally) and returned to finish her scenes. Perhaps it feed into some of the ferocity of her performance. Whether it did or not she is completely assured in the role.

    All that said this isn't my favorite of the adaptations of Williams work, I much prefer The Night of the Iguana and Suddenly, Last Summer, but it is beautifully put together in every aspect and has that glossy sheen that MGM at its peak was renowned for.

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    1. I tried to watch Suddenly, Last Summer a few years ago but I couldn't get my hands on a decent copy of it. I'm still disappointed but hopefully something will turn up online.

      I saw that Ives won for something else. I looked him up immediately after watching this to see if he was nominated and was shocked he wasn't.

      I had a feeling the relationship with Skipper was whitewashed a bit for the film. Not surprising for those times, but disappointing.

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    2. The Big Country is just that...BIG and sprawling and Ives plays his part with relish. His nomination may have been a sort of spreading the wealth, Big Country has a packed cast of stars of equal magnitude-Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Carroll Baker and Jean Simmons (both of whom were enormous female stars in the 50's though Liz Taylor's only real equal in terms of star power at the time was Marilyn Monroe) but even though it made a mint it only garnered two nominations as opposed to Cat's six. I'm sure it was the combination of his work in this as well as the other film that made him come out on top and deservedly so.

      I'm sure you realize he's the voice of Sam the Snowman in Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Now that's one animated film (though its really claymation) that I completely adore.

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    3. I saw that! I love that version of Rudolph. Nothing else matches it.

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  4. I can't remember I've ever had any interest in this.. but I'm glad you had a nice start to your Blindspot 2020! :)

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    1. lol that sounds like some films I throw on my Blind Spot list. I'm not sure if I'M interested in them, but they're there so why not.

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  5. Nice review! As much as I love Classic Hollywood, I could never get into the hype of this film. The performances are great, but it's hard to be invested in the characters and story. It's a little too bland for me.

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    1. I agree on the characters, I can't say I actually like any of them but I did enjoy the actors. Newman I will never understand the love for though.

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