Flaming Southerner Tennessee Williams sure had a knack for writing drama, especially America’s greatest form of drama, the Southern Gothic. Despite the different director, every film I have had the pleasure of viewing with a story written by Tennessee Williams always turns out to be a work of dramatic cinema brilliance. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), starring a very young Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, is another brilliant work based on a play by Tennessee Williams. Watching Cat on a Hot Tin Roof makes one realize that there was actually a time when Hollywood (somewhat) justly portrayed the American South as a place that has more than superstitious religious hicks trying to give their sisters a lick. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof takes a look at a rich Southern family amidst a family tragedy involving the dying of Big Daddy, a family man and personal empire builder.
Big Daddy is big and fat, but his own self-made empire is even bigger. Unfortunately for Big Daddy, as he states himself, a man can’t buy life. Big Daddy has no interest in screwing his nagging wife, but he’s proud that he’s willing to buy her anything she may fancy. Big Daddy also has two sons that disappoint him, one being a greedy lawyer named Gooper and the other being a 30 year old kid named Brick (Paul Newman). Big Daddy wants to hookup his lazy alcoholic son Brick with his empire, but Brick won’t agree to get his hot wife Maggie the Cat pregnant because he rather screw his dead friend Skipper (when he was alive, of course). Maggie the Cat, played by a very young Elizabeth Taylor, is a woman who has curves that are practically busting out of the seams of her clothes. What a shame her homosexual husband is unwilling to tame her.
The acting chemistry between Maggie the Cat and Brick is intense to say the least. The casting director of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof certainly made the right decision when pairing Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor as the two leads. A wretched cunt by the name of Sister-woman was also brilliantly played in a repulsive manner by Madeleine Sherwood, a character known for shooting out many children out of her cooch. I don’t think I have ever been more disgusted by an antagonist in my life and the only thing this bitch by the atrocious nickname of Sister-woman wanted was money via her father in-law Big Daddy. Big Daddy, being the swaggering pimp that he is, knows how much of a moneygrubber Sister-woman is and thankfully treats her rude behavior accordingly. Big Daddy may not want to screw his aged wife Big Mamma, but he sure picked the right woman to keep his sons/daughter-in-laws in check. What a drama-rama in one big house in the Deep South.
With Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, it is once again proven that if you have a brilliantly written story and charismatic cast, a film can work without an auteur. Apparently mother-lover Elvis Presley turned down the role of Brick and I am certainly glad. The Aryan-looking half-Jew Paul Newman is certainly an actor that followed not too far behind in Marlon Brando’s footsteps, also showing he had what it takes to play in a lead in a story written by Tennessee Williams. Although I had yet to see Elizabeth Taylor’s acting skills before Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I assumed she would be an annoying prude to see on screen due to her overblown celebrity status. I must admit that her performance in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was one of a seductive and smooth walking/talking hot kitty.