Review: ‘Tea and Sympathy’

This is the story of a youngster regarded by fellow students as 'not regular' (i.e. not manly). The spotlight is on clearly implied homosexuality.

This is the story of a youngster regarded by fellow students as ‘not regular’ (i.e. not manly). The spotlight is on clearly implied homosexuality.

Robert Anderson’s adaptation of his own legiter keeps the essentials in proper focus. The pivotal role of the misunderstood sensitive boy is an excellently drawn characterization. The part is played with marked credibility by John Kerr. The housemaster’s wife is a character study of equal sensitivity and depth. Deborah Kerr gives the role all it deserves.

The housemaster part, played with muscle-flexing exhibitionism by Leif Erickson, loses some of its meaning in the tone-down. On the stage his efforts at being ‘manly’ carried the suggestion that he was trying to compensate a fear of a homo trend in his own makeup. The suggestion is diluted to absence in the picture.

Edward Andrews, as John Kerr’s father, is the brash and understanding parent who would prefer to see his son carry on with the town tart to erase his ‘sister-boy’ reputation.

Tea and Sympathy

Production

M-G-M. Director Vincente Minnelli; Producer Pandro S. Berman; Screenplay Robert Anderson; Camera John Alton; Editor Ferris Webster; Music Adolph Deutsch; Art Director William A. Horning, Edward Carfagno

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1956. Running time: 122 MIN.

With

Deborah Kerr John Kerr Leif Erickson Edward Andrews Darryl Hickman Norma Crane

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