Sweet Bird of Youth

1962

Sweet Bird of Youth

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

72%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 18

73%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,290

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Movie Info

This film version of the play by Tennessee Williams is considerably toned down in comparison to the original production. Chance Wayne (Paul Newman) is an aspiring movie actor brimming with self confidence. He meets a fading movie queen named Alexandra Del Lago (Geraldine Page), whose recent screen failures are alleviated by sex, drugs and booze. She agrees to help the young actor by bringing him to Hollywood to meet "all the right people." The two stop over in Chance's hometown on their way out West. Chance's presence alarms local politician Boss Finley (Ed Begley), whose daughter Heavenly Finley (Shirley Knight) was impregnated by Chance some years earlier. Her reputation remained unsullied due to a secret abortion, but she still carries the torch for Chance. Boss Finley recruits his son Thomas (Rip Torn) to "welcome" Chance back to town. Chance is beaten to a bloody pulp by Thomas and his hired goons. At the same time, Alexandra's career is rejuvenated by a movie she thought would be a box office disaster. She cleans up her act and dreams of making a comeback in Hollywood. Ed Begley won an Oscar for best supporting actor, while Shirley Knight and Geraldine Page were nominated for the Academy Award for their performances. Chance didn't get off so easily in the stage version as he was castrated by the angry mob. This was eliminated from the film version. Despite the changes, Sweet Bird Of Youth remains a gripping, suspenseful film.

Cast

Paul Newman
as Chance Wayne
Geraldine Page
as Alexandra Del Lago
Ed Begley Sr.
as Tom 'Boss' Finley
Shirley Knight
as Heavenly Finley
Rip Torn
as Thomas J. Finley
Mildred Dunnock
as Aunt Nonnie
Philip Abbott
as Dr. George Scudder
Dub Taylor
as Dan Hatcher
Barry Atwater
as Ben Jackson
Charles Arnt
as Mayor Henricks
Dorothy Konrad
as Mrs. Maribelle Norris
James Chandler
as Prof. Burtus H. Smith
Mike Steen
as Deputy
Kelly Thordsen
as Sheriff Clark
William Forrest
as Benny Taubman
Robert Burton
as Director
View All

Critic Reviews for Sweet Bird of Youth

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (5)

  • It's a glossy, engrossing hunk of motion picture entertainment, slickly produced by Berman.

    April 8, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Offers little indication of what made the original play interesting (especially in Elia Kazan's stage production), despite the fact that Paul Newman and Geraldine Page are called on to reprise their original roles.

    April 8, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Brooks' direction seems a little too stolid for all the sleazy, flaming passions. These are, however, given full measure by an excellent cast.

    February 9, 2006

    Tom Milne

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • This cynical, coruscating drama has a strong look of being contrived, and Mr. Brooks' happy ending for it is implausible and absurd.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The play is all broad strokes, and even worse, the film does its damndest to sanitize them.

    May 20, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Once again, Hollywood proved to be more constrictive than Broadway -- a shocking castration gets replaced by a savage beating -- but the Southern discomfort of its characters keeps this torrid melodrama humming.

    May 16, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sweet Bird of Youth

  • Apr 24, 2014
    Newman does Tennessee Williams very well and he does tremendously well in Sweet Bird of Youth. He is the ultimate hustler who meets obstacles that he can't overcome. Brilliant.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 28, 2011
    Sweet Bird of Youth is structured like a resurrection tale. Chance Wayne is thrown into all types of abasement, dragged this way and that, beaten to a bloody pulpy (figuratively, of course), and finally rises from the ashes, a new man.
    Jennifer X Super Reviewer
  • Jun 04, 2010
    Very underrated and a great story about vanity and the drawbacks of Hollywood. Paul Newman delivers his usual knockout performance, creating a very lovable and fun character that is also very realistic and heart felt. There's also a lot of other great performances thrown in, including Rip Torn as a deranged redneck out for blood. The story is so well put together by the greatest playwright to ever live, Tennessee Williams. I think the love story is so well done and put together in such a tragic way that the end result nearly drains you. The movie itself is really well put together and has some really beautiful sets and shots.
    Conner R Super Reviewer
  • Feb 14, 2010
    If you've been reading some of my reviews, you all know how much I like Paul Newman, but he failed to appease me this time. The whole story just wasn't that interesting. As a matter of fact, I don't think I have anything constructive to say about the movie. So I'll leave it at that. <div style="width:254px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/sweet-bird-of-youth-1962-paul-newman-in-sweet-bird-of-youth-11372629"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/11/37/26/11372629_gal.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com">
    Saskia D Super Reviewer

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