Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
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Just one pillow on her bed ... and just one desire in her heart!
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Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.

Title:Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Release Date:February 17, 1958
MPAA Rating:NR
Genres:Drama, Romance
Production Co.:Avon Production, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Production Countries:United States of America
Director:Richard Brooks
Writers:, ,
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:individual, suicide, southern u.s., adultery, mississippi, depression, jealousy, wife husband relationship, dying and death, alcoholic
Alternative Titles:
  • Кошка на раскалённой крыше - [RU]
  • Kocka na rozpalene plechove strese - [CZ]

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Reviews

  • Wonderful Williams - Brilliant Ives
    by jacksflicks on 13 June 2004

    92 out of 131 people found the following review useful:

    Burl Ives gives the greatest portrayal of a literary character in film history, and he wasn't even recognized by an Oscar nomination, further evidence of the Academy's complete lack of credibility as an arbiter of screen excellence.

    The casting is brilliant:

    Tennessee Williams's Big Daddy was indeed big - larger than life, domineering, insensitive, self-absorbed. Burl Ives's Big Daddy is larger than life, insensitive, domineering, self-absorbed. Ives is "on" every moment. And every moment is true.

    Paul Newman's Brick, is as afraid of life as Big Daddy is in love with it. Yet, in his way, he's a chip off the old block - self-absorbed, insensitive.

    And domineering or, as Big Daddy and Maggie would have it, masterful, ready to take charge -

    if he could just get over himself.

    I confess, I don't care for Elizabeth Taylor as an actress, but she is so right for the part, that I can't think of anyone else to fill it. Anyway, who else has eyes that could compete with Newman's?

    Judith Anderson plays the typical Williams matron, living in her house of delusions. She's Big Daddy's tormented, desperately lonely, unloved partner, who towards the end wins Big Daddy with her nobility and devotion.

    The under-appreciated Jack Carter has the unenviable role of Brick's pliant, conformist brother, Gooper, decent at heart but worn out after years of jumping through Big Daddy's hoops and still winding up on the short end, with a house full of brats, bred at Big Daddy's presumed bidding and delivered by a scheming, ambitious weasel of a wife. Gooper the only character I have a little trouble with, because his climactic speech, as rendered by Carter, is so heartfelt, that we are aggrieved with him at the injustice of Big Daddy's favoritism for the no-account but aesthetically more pleasing Brick.

    Perhaps an even more unenviable role is that of Gooper's wife, played to perfection by Madeleine Sherwood. Anyone who has grown up in the South has known "Sister Woman". I can assure those who haven't, that this character is not a stereotype or caricature.

    There are a few quibbles. One character, the family doctor, though played well by Larry Gates, has a dramatic function that's about as useful as the referee in a pro wrestling match, but not nearly as decorative. I guess he's included to provide plot information, but I think it could have been provided just as well without him. I was also put off by the contrived thunder claps at dramatic moments. Then, there were some continuity problems, such as different facial expression when shot angles were changed and Gooper's too many "Shut ups" to Sister Woman.

    If, as another reviewer has said, Tennessee Williams hated this film, then it couldn't have been because it was untrue to his work. If he disliked the changes and omissions, he should blame '50s prudishness, not the film, for dictating, say, the suppression of Brick's homosexuality.

    Williams wrote about lies and delusions, the good ones and bad ones. Well, that's what Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Streetcar Named Desire and Glass Menagerie were all about. Tennessee Williams's stories about the South and its culture of delusion are not just rebukes of Southern hypocrisy and bloodymindedness but paeans to the gentle and genteel refuge which delusion provides. As Maggie "The Cat" says, "Truth, truth - everybody keeps hollerin' about the truth. Well, the truth is as dirty as lies."

    Finally, I think it was brilliant of Richard Brooks to insist on color, for Williams's stuff is talky, and with the drabness of a typical Williams set, this can be a bit oppressive. With color, and the wonderful animation Brooks instills in all the characters, his Cat contains not a dull moment. If Brooks has given us something at odds with what Williams intended, I think he has given us something just as fine.

  • Makes you wish they gave Oscars for ensemble acting.
    by Kevin Marshall ( on 17 August 1999

    43 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

    "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is truly an actor's movie, and it is one of those rare films where every single actor is perfect.

    Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor are both brilliant as Brick and Maggie Pollitt, respectively. Not very often is there a screen couple that have the same chemistry together that they do.

    Newman, however, steals the show. If you watch "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" for nothing else, watch it for his performance. One of the greatest actors of all time, Newman showcases how powerful an actor he can be. This is not to say the supporting cast isn't excellent. Burl Ives is superb in a supporting role as Big Daddy, a man who's greatest concern is having his legacy live on after him. The sequence with Ives and Newman in the basement of the house remains one of the most incredible displays of acting I have ever seen.

    "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is a very appropriate title. It is a searing, wonderfully acted film that I will not soon forget. I recommend those who haven't seen it yet to rent it as soon as they get a chance. A true classic.

  • Newman proving decisively that he wasn't a second-rate Brando…
    by Righty-Sock ( on 25 June 2005

    49 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

    In "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," Newman is an ex-football player, trying to relive his college athletic glories… Drinking and staggering, he attempts to jump hurdles, resulting in a painful injury that has him hobbling around on crutches during most of the film…

    The role was certainly another demonstration of his widening range, for Brick is in many ways the antithesis of Ben Quick ("The Long, Hot Summer"). Although he too is cynical, cold and guilt-ridden, he manifests it by becoming moody, withdrawn, introverted… In addition, whereas Ben was strong and decisive, causing and participating in events, Brick is weak and passive, largely reacting to events around him... And he's anything but ambitious: while his greedy brother and sister-in-law await Big Daddy's death so they can inherit his huge fortune and plantation, and while his wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) urges him to fight for his share, he merely broods and drinks... An emotionally crippled, "thirty-year-old boy," he refuses to face responsibility and truth, preferring to drown his memories in liquor…

    Newman and Taylor enact striking contrasts in temperament: she is fiery, loud, animated, sensual; he is cold, quiet, immobile, dispassionate… Brick and Maggie haven't been sleeping together, and she wants him desperately, but he keeps rejecting her advances… As she talks, he replies with sarcasm, contempt and mostly indifference, speaking in a dreamy, monotonous manner, as if only half-there…

    In conversations with her, as with Big Daddy (Burl Ives), he stares into space, or walks away (usually toward the liquor supply), turning his back on the other party and forcing the dialog to take place on separate planes… All of this places him in a private world, where he hides his torment and anxiety beneath a mask of detachment…

    If Newman is best at enacting Brick's unspoken thoughts and emotions, he's also effective in the more spirited moments, as when he screams at Maggie or Big Daddy, to prevent them from getting at the truth he wants kept buried… But exactly what the "truth" is remains unclear…

    In the play, Brick's fear of admitting a homosexual attachment led indirectly to his friend's death and explained his overall moodiness and passivity… But because of Hollywood's moral code, director-scriptwriter Richard Brooks had to eliminate this, and the character's motivations are considerably weakened… His hostility toward Maggie—understandable in the play—is especially confusing because it results from events that are unconvincingly outlined…

    With the homosexuality cut out, Brick's dependence upon his friend is now explained by the failure of Big Daddy to provide strength and love, and this changed emphasis does make for exciting drama… The film's key scene—not in the play—is one in which Brick confronts his father with this painful truth… As they sit in a cellar disarranged with the old man's useless antiques, he tells Big Daddy that love cannot be bought… Newman moves powerfully from anguished looks to an eruption of emotion, smashing everything in sight, finally breaking down and crying: "All I wanted was a father, not a boss ... I wanted you to love me." Both are in pain—Big Daddy because of cancer, Brick because his crutch has (symbolically) been broken, and they need each other's he1p to get upstairs… Therefore the film ultimately becomes another statement of father-son alienation, and their coming to terms with it, as in "The Rack" and "Somebody Up There Likes Me," leads the characters to a new strength (and an upbeat ending not in the play).

    Despite its compromises, the film was still daring by 1958 standards, and was an enormous commercial success… It received six Oscar nominations, including one for Newman as Best Actor—his first. Newman had developed, at last, a really impressive acting ability, and a distinctive screen image…

  • Not for Williams purists but a great film
    by budikavlan on 2 October 2002

    38 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

    Much has been made of the differences between Tennessee Williams' play and this film--the homoerotic themes have been driven further into subtext (though not eliminated entirely) and a more upbeat ending was added. The changes were necessary when the film was made; although theater and literary purists decry the "sanitizing" or censorship of plays when they are adapted for the screen, in some cases (such as this one) the changes can improve the work in question. "Cat" on film is clearer, for one thing. Tennessee Williams plays tend to be "cluttered" in their original form. They are also cynically downbeat; if that type of story appeals to one, this adaptation might be off-putting.

    As with all theatrical adaptations, many of the scenes are excessively talky, especially the Brick/Big Daddy scenes in the second act. Some of the highlights are just as wordy but thoroughly enjoyable rather than tedious (especially Maggie's story about Mae's reign as Cotton Carnival Queen and the entire scene in the basement). All of the performances are excellent, though Paul Newman as Brick is less flashy; it's not really until the basement scene that one feels his talent is given a workout. Elizabeth Taylor is an emotional rollercoaster, venturing from flirtatious to hectoring to wheedling to calm to grasping to tender, often within a single scene, and yet she never slips the rails. Watching films from this period (her career peak), one wonders what happened to turn her into the vague, bleary-eyed woman we see today. Judith Anderson's Big Mama is loud, coarse, and bossy, but completely sympathetic both in the scene with the birthday cake and in the confrontation scene at the end. When Big Daddy invites her along with him at the end, it is every bit as welcome to the viewer as it is to her. Burl Ives is the most towering of all; the emotional growth in the film is as much his as it is Brick's. Jack Carson and Madeleine Sherwood are every bit as good despite being relegated to comic relief at times.

    My favorite aspect of this story, however, is the social dynamic. Brick and Maggie are spoiled, young, "beautiful people" who have yet to take on any responsibility, while Gooper and Mae are the epitome of a serious young family. Brick is an alcoholic former football player, while Gooper is a corporate lawyer. Despite these obvious differences, however, both their parents and the audience (and Tennessee Williams, obviously) clearly prefer Brick and Maggie. Every aspect of Gooper and Mae's personalities, even those which bespeak traditional values, are portrayed as petty and unimaginative. Even if one believes that Gooper and Mae have done all the right things, they have done them for the wrong reasons. Thus the theme of the story is most clearly presented: all that is important is to love and to express that love.

  • My favorite film, full of sizzle and mendacity!!
    by RENT Gal on 28 June 1999

    23 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

    This is my all-time favorite film, ever ever ever ever!!

    How can I describe the fabulousness?? Paul and Liz are so hot and beautifully frustrating together as Brick and Maggie, that the TV nearly explodes...Gooper is perfectly portrayed as a good man, financially independent, but still seeking Big Daddy's approval, and a prime example of a man being "whipped"...we hate Sister Woman, and rightly so -- for she is a despicable character...Big Momma is stronger than anybody thinks, and Big Daddy holds the whole family and story together with his massive strength and faith in himself.

    The relationship between Brick and Maggie is the most fascinating ever recorded on celluloid. We think it's all about sex, but if it were, they would have jumped each other long ago (My GOD, LOOK at them!! It's Newman and Taylor). This is a relationship full of confusion, betrayal, honesty, dishonesty, love, desire, and trust. The phenomenal symbolism of Brick's crutch is beautifully represented.

    The play was wonderful, and the movie was wonderful, but it is important to remember that they are two separate entities. A mistake that I believe that many people make while watching adaptations, is that they are exactly that -- an ADAPTATION! They are not meant to be the same. They should be judged each on their own merit!!

    On Cat's own merit, it is a magical film

  • It isn't the play, but it is a very good film
    by ian_harris on 11 November 2002

    27 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

    I first encountered "Cat" in a fine National Theatre production in 1988 with Lindsay 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 a fine cast perform this amazing play, and it needs a fine cast.

    The movie has a fine cast. The movie grips you from start to finish. The movie even adds a little; the basement scene works wonderfully in the movie in ways that would be hard or impossible to reproduce on stage.

    Yes, the play has been bowdlerised to make it into a movie, but what do you expect in 1958. The reality is, this film is a piece of cinema and drama history. You'd need to be a "Williams Fundamentalist" to hate the movie for its toned-down-ness. To the balanced Williams fan, it is gripping, well acted and nicely-paced.

    Once every 10-15 years there is a truly fine production of this play in a world-class theatre. If you get the chance, go see a great production in the theatre. In between times, this movie is a very good second.

  • A powerful Burl Ives livens up a simple story
    by hall895 on 19 December 2009

    17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

    The best thing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has going for it is one truly remarkable acting performance. And that performance comes from neither Elizabeth Taylor nor Paul Newman. There's nothing wrong with the work turned in by Taylor and Newman, they are both perfectly fine in their roles. And it is their characters who are the focus for most of the film. But late on in the proceedings Burl Ives grabs hold of the film and makes it his own. Ives turns in a performance which is so strong and powerful that it threatens to overshadow and overwhelm everything else in the film. However it is rather difficult to overshadow Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. And the film's rather simple story is certainly compelling enough so as not to be overwhelmed by the Ives tour de force near the end. So while Ives may end up being the most memorable thing the film has to offer he is certainly not the only memorable thing. His great performance is merely the best part of what is an overall thoroughly satisfying film.

    The film's simple story centers around a day in the life of a wealthy Southern family. With this family the key word is "mendacity". What does that even mean? Any of our characters who initially don't know about mendacity surely will by the time the story plays itself out. As we meet them everyone has come together to celebrate the 65th birthday of family patriarch Big Daddy. Initially it seems the film is about Big Daddy's son Brick and his wife Maggie the Cat. Brick and Maggie are not currently in the throes of wedded bliss. To say their relationship is strained would be putting it mildly. The fact that alcohol seems to be the only thing in life Brick is at all interested in probably does not help matters. But as the film progresses we see there is a larger issue than Brick and Maggie's troubled marriage. Big Daddy is dying. And nobody, 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 but certainly not spectacular. But then Ives, as Big Daddy, grabs the film by its throat and shakes some real life into it. There's a scene where Ives as Big Daddy and Newman as Brick are alone in a basement which simply could not have been performed any better. There's so much these characters have to say to one another. The emotion is raw and the scene is so powerful. It hits you right in the heart. Just this one scene alone, with these two great actors, elevates the film all by itself. Newman is terrific. Ives is astounding. Perhaps it is in fact possible to overshadow Elizabeth Taylor. Maybe just this once. Maggie the Cat is an intriguing character in her own right and Taylor certainly doesn't disappoint in the role. But it turns out that ultimately the film is really about the relationship between Brick and his father, not Brick and his wife. And as such it is Newman, and most especially Ives, who you will most remember. It is their work which transforms a good movie into something truly memorable.

  • I will think of it fondly for the rest of my life.
    by Elswet on 6 January 2009

    19 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

    This is a fantastic look into a dysfunctional American family, 1950's Style. I was prepared to hate this movie, as I typically don't get into dramas at all. Fortunately, I was completely drawn in. Paul Newman's character (Brick) is enigmatic at best, but somehow, because Maggie the Cat loves him so much and is so utterly devoted to him, you find yourself caring about what happens to him and Maggie both.

    Big Daddy and Big Mama both bring back fond memories of my own childhood, and if you grew up in the south, chances are you knew someone like the both of them. Their characters are written and performed so typically Southern, that I realized half way through I felt family connections with the whole family, including the no-neck monsters! Sister Girl is the sister in law from Hades, and her husband needs to dig into her purse for his...manhood. We ALL know a couple like that!

    All in all? Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and Burl Ives are breathtakingly beautiful in their portrayals. This is probably not a good family movie, as Brick has a serious drinking problem and Maggie IS so desperate for his affections, and probably not a good Friday/Saturday night movie, but I still love it, and will think of it fondly for the rest of my life.

    It rates an 8.8/10 from...

    the Fiend :.

  • Some Really Fine Acting Here
    by Lechuguilla on 4 November 2009

    16 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

    Sultry and downbeat, this Richard Brooks directed film is set at a Southern plantation where a dysfunctional family celebrates the 65th birthday of family patriarch Big Daddy (Burl Ives), a portly man whose health, or the lack of it, is very much on the minds of all the family members. The story centers on one of Big Daddy's two sons, a brooding young man named Brick (Paul Newman) and his childless wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor).

    Brick is reticent and repressed for reasons unknown, and finds relief in alcohol. Beautiful Maggie is concerned that Brick's indifference to Big Daddy may cost them their share of the family inheritance, at the hands of Brick's brother and scheming sister-in-law. Adding fuel to the fire is Brick's prepubescent nieces and nephews, in-your-face brats, whom Maggie refers to, not kindly, as little "no-neck" monsters. Big Momma (Judith Anderson) just wants Big Daddy to be physically well, and for everyone to get along.

    Of course, with a big inheritance on the line, tension erupts, first between Brick and Maggie, then later between them and everyone else. As the tension mounts, arguments erupt into a real down-home Southern soap opera.

    The film's script is heavy on dialogue. But because of the story's thematic depth, the issues are interesting and insightful, and the script never seems talky. At the heart of the story is the subject of mendacity, of lies and not telling the truth. There is considerable emotional pain, expressed as anger, resentment, and sarcasm. The story, originated by Tennessee Williams, goes against its era, in that it contradicts the virtues of traditional family values and capitalism.

    Casting and acting are quite good. But Burl Ives' performance is wonderful, and alone makes the film worth watching. Color cinematography 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 in 1958, the film's conclusion is weak and does not justify Brick's emotional state. This is not a criticism of the film, but of the Hays Code itself which, mercifully, was abolished in the 1960s.

    Dripping with Southern atmosphere, and with a sultry jazz score, "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" is a terrific movie, for its thematic value, its cast, and the splendid performance of Burl Ives.

  • The irony of it all
    by debblyst on 29 April 2006

    34 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

    Some 95% of the IMDb comments on "Cat..." concentrate on its stars/performances, and justly so: that's about all there is to this static, bowdlerized adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play. In 1958, director/writer Richard Brooks had the questionable distinction of bastardizing TWO masterpieces in the SAME year, Williams' "Cat..." and Dostoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" (remember that ending?).

    "Cat..." is basically an all-talk psychodrama (if you're not fluent in English, be prepared to read a lot of subtitles!), as we watch a dysfunctional family dysfunctioning to the hilt, in another of Williams' exorcism of his ghosts (in "Cat..." 's particular case: his relationship with his brutish father, his coming out of the closet, his alcoholism, his tragic relationship back in the 1940s with his first male lover that eventually left him to get married, only to die of a brain tumor in 1944 with Williams at his deathbed).

    It's difficult to take this adaptation seriously when two of the main themes of the play were either entirely eliminated (homosexualism) or trivialized (alcoholism -- how can a serious drunkard look as healthy and fresh-faced as Paul Newman?). The problem of eliminating the homosexual innuendos of Brick's relationship with Skipper -- besides the grave fact that Brooks betrayed the very core of the play -- is that Brooks doesn't come up with anything consistent in its place. The "new" motivations for Brick's trauma (that led him to become an alcoholic and sexually reject Maggie) are at first vaguely mysterious and then an over-sized bubble, because they amount to nothing much.

    What Brooks did to the play was worse than white-washing; it was an act of...mendacity!! Oh, the irony of it all:)

    Williams himself dismissed Brooks' adaptation, saying it looked "like prostitution or corruption", that he "cheats on the material, sweetens it up and makes it all hunky-dory". It's said Williams even publicly advised audiences not to see the movie. Nevertheless, he wasn't exactly physically tortured to accept (reportedly) half a million dollars for the film rights :) Anyway, he would show Brooks and Hollywood a thing or two the next year, when he adapted (with Gore Vidal) his own play "Suddenly Last Summer" for the screen, making homosexuality its unequivocal (though encrypted) center, even if homosexual "pervert" Sebastian gets his "deserved punishment" at the end, being literally eaten alive!

    Brooks' version of "Cat..." is disappointingly static; the camera's only interested in its stars. But then, what stars! Taylor and Newman are really one of the most spectacular screen couples ever. Liz -- probably never more beautiful -- hadn't however finished peeling off that early "nice girl" quality (it was her first real "nasty" role) and still lacked the delicious "trampiness" that would bloom in the 60s (though she has a shrill laughing scene by the mirror, at the beginning, that is delightfully vulgar and sexy). Paul Newman, also at his hottest, tries hard (and he's always pretty aware of his cinematic wooing powers) but is ultimately miscast: looking invariably sober and impeccably healthy, with not a shadow of anguish in his All-American brow, he doesn't succeed in portraying the compulsion to drink, the nihilist decay, the uptight despair to his part (imagine what Brando or Clift could have brought to the role). It's very hard to think of him as the complete loser Brick is. Burl Ives, physically impressive, chews everything around him in the Emil-Jannings-acting-school fashion (OK, so Big Daddy is bigger than life -- one more reason to smuggle in an occasional subtlety). Jack Carson is wasted in the under-developed part of his potentially very interesting character (Brick's underdog brother Gooper). Judith Anderson as the hysterical, torn apart Big Mama, and Madeleine Sherwood, as the nightmarish hag "sister-woman", have a ball with their roles, all stops out.

    "Cat..." is ultimately disappointing because it's glamorous when it should have been grim, and just repetitive when it should have been obsessive. However, it has star power to spare, some of the dialog is Williams at his poisonous best and there are some undeniably effective scenes: when Big Mama confronts Maggie saying that troubles in marriage have but one cause -- while firmly pounding her open hand on Maggie's mattress -- the film suddenly becomes alive for a moment.

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