Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I felt that I had a long day, having to do work that I didn’t want to do.  On the way home, I stopped to have a hamburger.  Back at home, I watched the DVD of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”  I had forgotten that I had already seen it.  When I saw that scene with the bratty girl throwing ice cream at Elizabeth Taylor, most of the movie came back to me.  Reportedly, Tennessee Williams disliked the film because the references to homosexuality that were originally in the play had been removed.  One of the real weaknesses of the movie is that the relationship between Brick and Skipper is unclear and seems to lack meaning.  Of course, we never even see Skipper, which is another weakness.  Paul Newman received an Oscar nomination for his performance as Brick, although I wouldn’t say that this was an example of his best work.  His Southern accent wasn’t entirely convincing.  His opening scene was something like his first scene in “Cool Hand Luke.”  In a drunken state, he experiences misfortune.  The film was shot in color, and one reason was to show off the stars, Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor with their attractive eyes.  Elizabeth Taylor does look exceptionally beautiful, and it’s rather funny how she shows off her legs early on in the picture.  Burl Ives has a strong presence on the screen.  Madeleine Sherwood was Mae, and she was a memorable character in the story, as she eavesdropped on conversations and had eyes on Big Daddy’s fortune.  During my childhood, I remembered her as the Mother Superior in “The Flying Nun.”  Reading about her on the Internet, she died just last year, on April 23, 2016, at age 93.  I thought Mae was too abrasive and distracting a character, at least as she was in the movie version.  Also, I don’t know how it worked on the stage, but in this picture the word “mendacity” is repeated too many times.  There must be a screenwriter’s rule about how many times you can repeat certain elements in a script before the audience becomes annoyed with it.  Brick had a way of destroying things, like his marriage and his crutches.  He was trying to drive away in the rain in a convertible.  I’ll never understand why, even in his drunken state, he would smash those items in the cellar that looked like it was out of “Citizen Kane.”  How much sympathy does the audience have for someone who drinks all the time and can’t seem to pull himself together?  He seems fortunate to be married to someone like Elizabeth Taylor, but he wallows in his unhappiness.  There is a kind of rooting interest in that you’d like to see anyone deny Mae and her family from getting rich.  Tennessee Williams said, “It is planned speeches that contain lies or dissimulations, not what you blurt out so spontaneously in one instant.”  Brick has one of those moments where he blurts out something that turns the course of effects.  In real life, such people are terrible, and you feel like killing them.  This movie was a big hit, and Elizabeth Taylor was a big attraction.  Her work on the film was remarkable, considering that her husband died at the start of the filming.  The movie does feel like a play, as the characters are inside that house during the storm.  I am not so enthusiastic about this movie.  I liked Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives, but not much else.  It was sad to see Big Mama holding that birthday cake.  The original Broadway cast had Barbara Bel Geddes as Maggie, Ben Gazzara as Brick, and Burl Ives as Big Daddy.  Madeleine Sherwood was also in that cast.  Looking over that list, I prefer watching Newman rather than Gazzara.  The DVD had an audio commentary from Donald Spoto that was informative.  The movie was released in 1958, which doesn’t seem like it was long ago to me, but the content was certainly different than what it would be if the film were made today.  I can’t imagine who would play Maggie.  I never saw the television versions with Natalie Wood and Jessica Lange.  Some of the people who died on March 24 include Jules Verne (1905), Ray Goulding (1990), John Hersey (1993), Richard Widmark (2008), and Robert Culp (2010).  Today is a birthday for Jessica Chastain (40) and Jim Parsons (44).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 24, The O’Jays reached Number One on the singles chart in 1973 with “Love Train.”  In 1975, Chuck Wepner fought Muhammad Ali in Richfield, Ohio, going fifteen rounds in the title fight.  In 1986, “Out of Africa” won the Academy Award for Best Picture, while William Hurt, Geraldine Page, Don Ameche, and Anjelica Huston won the acting Oscars.  In 1997, Harold Melvin died in Philadelphia at age 57.

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