Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is an intense, important motion picture. By no means is this a watered-down version, though ‘immature dependence’ has replaced any hint of homosexuality. Motivations remain psychologically sound.
Cat, per Tennessee Williams, is set in the South, but the land is not as decadent as he has so often pictured it. The earth is fertile, the plantation is large and Big Daddy’s wealth now amounts to $10 million. Burl Ives, playing Big Daddy, unknowingly is dying of cancer, and his first son (Jack Carson) is out for more than his share of the estate. He and his obnoxious wife (Madeleine Sherwood) make capital of the problems besetting Big Daddy’s favorite son (Paul Newman) and his wife (Elizabeth Taylor), he being a drunk and she being childless. It’s an often gruesome, often amusing battle.
Taylor has a major credit with her portrayal of Maggie. The frustrations and desires, both as a person and a woman, the warmth and understanding she molds, the loveliness that is more than a well-turned nose – all these are part of a well-accented, perceptive interpretation.
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Newman plays cynical underacting against highly developed action. His command of the articulate, sensitive sequences is unmistakable, and the way he mirrors his feelings is basic to every scene. Ives, repeating his legit role, is a vibrant and convincing plantation king.
1958: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Paul Newman), Actress (Elizabeth Taylor), Adapted Screenplay, Color Cinematography