Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I went out to do my laundry, and sat there reading two chapters of my Tolstoy novel. I went to work, and people were either on vacation or out sick, and so it was a more difficult shift than usual. The night air was awfully cold. I returned home to watch the DVD of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” I’d seen bits of it on television over the years. Tennessee Williams is not the greatest entertainment for children, though. Elizabeth Taylor was beautiful, and wouldn’t look any better. I kept wondering whether the ice cream the girl threw at her was real ice cream. She showed off her legs a lot in those early minutes of the movie. Paul Newman’s entrance into the movie reminded me of the opening of “Cool Hand Luke,” drunk and ready to do something stupid. The major problem with the movie is that the references to homosexuality are removed. This doesn’t make Newman’s character more complex, just incomplete and not making any sense. I’m not sure it would make sense, anyway. Newman’s character is named Brick, as in thick as a brick. He is a former football player who gained a bit of fame through his performance in the Cotton Bowl. He drinks a lot, upset about the death of his great friend Skipper. I thought it was a flaw in the movie that we never see this person who has so much of an effect on people’s feelings. It’s annoying to hear people talk about things and people we never see in a movie. Burl Ives is Big Daddy, celebrating his 65th birthday, although he seemed older than 65. He has cancer, and his family is after his estate. The single word that is repeated the most in this story is “mendacity.” It’s doubtful that Maggie is ever telling the truth, and even Big Daddy’s doctor tells a big lie. I think I’ve come to think of Burl Ives as an animated figure from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” but I thought he proved to be a pretty good actor. He was convincing as the strong male type who worked hard to make something out of nothing. There is a bit of “Gone with the Wind” in his story. Madeleine Sherwood, who was the Mother Superior in the Flying Nun TV series, is Mae, the greedy wife with the unbearable children. Like virtually all movies based on plays, this one feels too confined at times with too much talking. Newman wasn’t perfectly convincing as an ex-football player. I certainly didn’t see him as a superstar athlete, or someone who could be attracted to another man. He started filming shortly after he married Joanne Woodward. I think that the character who is miserable and drunk and dealing with internal conflicts generally doesn’t come across well in film. I think the Elizabeth Taylor was more the winner in this film, showing off her beauty and her talent. The closing shot of the movie suggests sex. This is a gender reversal of the scene with Sean Connery and Honor Blackman in “Goldfinger.” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” was one of the big hits of 1958. It seems that movie fans wanted to see Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman in juicy roles. This was supposed to be a controversial movie in 1958, but it seems that the substance of the controversy was removed. We see suggestions of actions, and it seems that everything is in code. This movie was actually nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. I definitely don’t see it being at that level. Is this movie evidence that fans come out to see the stars? Tennessee Williams had harsh words for the film, which seems to be lacking teeth. I should note that the very good cinematographer for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” was William H. Daniels, who had many films to his credit, including “Grand Hotel” and “Harvey.” One of his last movies was “The Maltese Bippy.” Richard Brooks was the director, and I thought the highlight of his career was “In Cold Blood.” The DVD of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” had an audio commentary track with Donald Spoto. The quality of the video of the disc was quite good, and overall I enjoyed watching it, although I would concur with Tennessee Williams about the watered-down quality of the adaptation. Some of the people who died on December 31 include Roberto Clemente (1972), Marshall McLuhan (1980), Raoul Walsh (1980), Ricky Nelson (1985), Sam Spiegel (1985), George Allen (1991), Floyd Cramer (1997), and Eileen Heckart (2001). Today is a birthday or Val Kilmer (56), Bebe Neuwirth (57), Ben Kingsley (72), and Anthony Hopkins (78). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for December 31, Roy Rogers married Dale Evans in 1947. In 1985, Ricky Nelson was killed in a plane accident on his way to Dallas. In 1989, Pat Sajak married Lesly Brown. My choices for the Top 5 Biggest Jerks of December 2015 are: Bill Cosby, Ethan Couch, Steve Harvey, Martin Shkreli, and Donald Trump. My choices for the Top 5 Biggest Jerks of 2015 are: Bill Cosby, Kim Davis, Jared Fogle, Walter Palmer, and Donald Trump.

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