Summer and Smoke (1961)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In this film, based on Tennessee Williams' Broadway play, Alma Winemiller lives a spinsterish existence in her WWI-era Mississippi hometown. Alma carries a torch for her handsome next-door neighbor, Dr. John Buchanan. However, the doctor's preference for the companionship of free-wheeling Rosa leads to tragic consequences.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Tennessee Williams, James Poe, Meade Roberts
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 30, 1991
Paramount Pictures


as Alma Winemiller

as John Buchanan

as Dr. Buchanan

as Rosa Zacharias

as Mrs. Winemiller

as Papa Zacharias

as Nellie

as Rev. Winemiller

as Mrs. Ewell

as Archie Kramer

as Dr. Burke

as Mrs. Anderson

as Dr. Hodges

as Mrs. Bassett

as Knife Thrower

as Mr. Gilliam

as Betty Lou

as Dusty

as Dignitary-Bandleader

as Alma as a Girl

as Roger Doremus
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Summer and Smoke

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

This screen version of Tennessee Williams's noted play is poorly directed (it' still theater), but it's well acted by Geraldine Page

Full Review… | June 5, 2011

Audience Reviews for Summer and Smoke

Moody, stage bound drama with some typical Williams touches has a heavy gothic atmosphere and good performances to recommend it. Geraldine Page conveys the Alma"s yearnings with her customary skill and even the usually stiff Harvey is more accomplished than usual. Also standing out in a small role is Una Merkel as Alma's mother giving an affecting performance in just a few scenes.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer


A Southern belle longs for a doctor who pays more attention to desires of the flesh than Southern social mores.
It's rare for me to find a superficial quality about an actor that detracts from her performance enough for me to mention it, but Geraldine Page is an unfortunate exception: I hate her face. When she smiles, her cheeks pucker into two protruding circles that dominate her expression; it's like she's got two jawbreakers stuck in her cheeks. And her expression is always coy - coyly distressed, coyly happy, coyly longing. Yes, it's superficial, but the structure of her face actually detracted from her performance.
The film's central conflict is a "will he or won't he grow up" dramatic question, and such a plot obviously reinforces traditional values, or in this case, traditional Southern mores. This plot by itself isn't too strong, but with Tennessee Williams's language, it becomes more compelling. Long monologues about passion and fire make fucking around seem like a spiritual communion. This isn't Williams's best writing - some of the metaphors are overwrought and the Southern belle act has gotten cliche - but in the hands of anyone else, it would have been a bland, cliche story about a man being saved by the love of a good woman with a predictable twist.
Overall, though it's one of his lesser works, fans of Tennessee Williams might enjoy this film.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


Most Williams conversions to the screen have been fabulous but this one is a let down. There are elements to the directing I think that don't allow for the story to flow as effectively as it could.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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