- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof review by Steve
Handsome and lustrous version of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize winning play benefits enormously from its beautiful stars Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. The adaptation was substantially changed from the play because of problems with censorship, and also to give the film a more upbeat resolution.
Big Daddy Pollitt is dying of cancer and his son Gooper and his awful family must go head to head with Maggie (the Cat) to inherit the estate, just as her husband Brick takes to the bottle after his best friend Skipper dies. Taylor as Maggie in her beautiful Grecian dress looks like another possession of the Pollitt family, something brought back from a trip abroad, but there is an absence of love in this opulent mansion. There is only materialism and greed.
There is a vacuum left in the heart of film by the removal of any references to Brick's homosexual relationship with Skipper which nothing else fills. What we get is poetic melodrama with many great lines (we don't live together, we just occupy the same cage) and reflection of the themes of mendacity and endurance. Music is used to great effect to evoke the past lives of the characters. And the subject of sex is approached quite directly for a film of that time.
Typical of melodrama in this period, it looks gorgeous. And not just its stars. Its use of colour is sensual and the sets are very memorable. Taylor and Newman are exceptional as those classic Williams archetypes, the trapped, damaged spirits adrift in a sea of corruption, surrounded by monsters.
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