Tomorrow evening, TCM is showing a night full of Tennessee Williams. Williams can be intense, I know, but if you can handle it, be sure to check out these great movies.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at 10:15pm EST (click here for my past blog on “Cat”), it’s “Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959), based on a one-act play of Williams that was teamed up with “Orpheus Descending” to create the production entitled “Garden District” in 1958. The film stars Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Montgomery Clift and tells the story of a woman who goes crazy after witnessing the brutal murder of her cousin the summer before and her aunt’s struggle to keep that secret locked forever. Clift was still getting over his 1956 car crash during filming, relying heavily on drugs and alcohol. Taylor pushed very hard to get him his part. Unfortunately, it was a rough shot for him, not just from the alcohol. Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz and producer Sam Spiegel both treated Clift horribly because he was gay. It disgusted Hepburn so much that at the end of filming, when no reshoots were needed, she went off on them and even spat in Spiegel’s face. “Suddenly, Last Summer” is on at 12:15am EST.
Sweet Bird of Youth” (1962) is on at 2:15am EST. It was adapted and directed by Richard Brooks (2nd husband of Jean Simmons) from Williams’ 1959 play of the same name. Brooks hired the two original stars of the Broadway production to star in it again – Paul Newman and Geraldine Page – as well as supporting actors Rip Torn and Madeleine Sherwood. They were joined this time around by Shirley Knight and Ed Begley (yes, father of Ed Begley Jr.) Page won a Tony for her stage performance and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress from the film. Knight also earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actress, but Begley was the only one from the group to win, for Best Supporting Actor. Like most of Williams’ plays, “Sweet Bird” was also altered and tamed down a bit for film as well, changing the ending to something a little less harsh than the original play called for.
It may be quite a lot to take in in one sitting, but try your best to catch Tennessee Williams night tomorrow eve on TCM. They are all great films that everyone should see. Enjoy your weekend, and I’ll be back Monday like always!
(Post-tidbit: Kazan utilized another insider trick to help show Blanche’s growing insanity in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” As the story progresses, the sets get smaller and smaller to convey a sense of claustrophobia. He did this by not connecting any of the walls of the set.)