Sweet Bird of Youth - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sweet Bird of Youth Reviews

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½ November 16, 2015
In Tennessee Williams' world, youth is the one great virtue. Youth is beauty. Youth is purity. Youth is promise. Youth is innocence.

When youth disappears, all you are left with is ugliness, corruption and failure.

It's a pretty sad way of looking at life, and a little dramatic. But the heartbreak of lost youth runs straight through just about everything Williams ever wrote.

But Williams' works also layer in all kinds of levels that lift him above mere Southern Gothic degeneracy. There is always so much going on between the characters, around what they want and how effective they are in getting it, always more than mere lust, always the eternally frustrated promise of something profound underneath all the layers of hypocrisy and grotesquery. Even his failures command attention.

The performances in Sweet Bird of Youth are all brilliant. Geraldine Page shows why Hollywood was always the lesser for her lack of interest in it. Paul Newman is infuriatingly good, as always; it's no goddamn fair that a guy that good looking should be that brilliant an actor. Ed Begley, Rip Torn, Madeleine Sherwood, Shirley Knight, all brilliant.

I would like to know if there was ever a Hollywood movie before this one where a character smokes pot without a Reefer Madness-style freak-out. Which is what makes the happy ending so exasperating. I mean, they go to all the trouble to parade booze, drugs, infidelity, abortion, prostitution - if there's a way to be corrupt, this movie's got it, all pushing on the outer boundaries of the Production Code - and then Richard Brooks goes and tacks on a bullshit happy ending. Lots of fine movies of the day tacked on artificial happy endings, but it's jarring just how false it rings in Sweet Bird of Youth.
November 12, 2015
Another Tennessee Williams adaptation. Not always uplifting, but it rings true.
½ August 31, 2015
I didn't really care about the story. They focused on Alexandra and Chance's career but his story with Heavenly was more interesting. I enjoyed Shirley Knight and Paul Newman although he was a bit stiff when the scenes were more dramatic than emotional. Also i don't understand why Ed Begley won an Oscar. His character was a dick, nothing special. Madeleine Sherwood has a more impressive role especially after watching her in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
½ April 16, 2015
Brooks' direction seems a little too stolid for all the sleazy, flaming passions. These are, however, given full measure by an excellent cast.
Super Reviewer
April 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.
½ January 5, 2014
Richard Brooks is to blame for all that is wrong with this film adaptation. Both Paul Newman and Geraldine Page are exceptional. Sadly, they bring more to the roles than the adaptation calls for.
July 20, 2013
A film taken from a play in which it's hard to imagine that the play isn't infinitely better to watch. All the lead actors do their part, although the over-acting is quite apparent on the part of Page and Torn. Ed Begley and Newman are easily the best things about the film. Some very odd editing at times took me out of the story for a few minutes.
March 3, 2013
Geraldine Page's acting is on par with an actress who wasn't informed her audition had ended.

It's the first film I've seen, that Newman wasn't able to carry.
February 10, 2013
I'm for loose government, loose money, and loose women.

Chance Wayne has had many jobs, but never his dream job. Chance is an aspiring actor who hopes to one day land his big break; well, he hasn't been lucky finding the right opportunity and returns home with a alcoholic former movie star he hopes will help him earn his big break. Chance is a playboy, He doesn't really love the movie star and is using her, like most people in his life. Will Chance ever earn his big break or will his methods catch up to him?

"I don't understand you."
"I don't expect you to."

Richard Brooks, director of Fever Pitch, Bite the Bullet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Elmer Gantry, Battle Circus, Crisis, and Flame and the Flesh, delivers Sweet Bird of Youth. The storyline for this picture is interesting and a bit methodical. The pace is kind of slow but the acting is amazing. Newman delivers a powerful performance and the cast also includes Geraldine Page, Shirley Knight, Rip Torn, and Barry Cahill.

"What are you laughing at?"
"Nothing."
"Only idiots laugh at nothing."

I came across this film while scrolling through Turner Classic Movie's (TCM) upcoming television schedule. I was surprised that I had never heard of this Newman gem. I found this film fairly entertaining, a bit depressing, and a fairly slow. The story itself is excellent and contains wonderful characters; but overall, while it tells an interesting tale it is far from my favorite Tennessee Williams story or Newman picture.

"There is no easy way to the top."

Grade: B+
January 14, 2013
In fact, it has been the weakest and more contradictory movie based on Tennesse Williams play that I have seen, but it still contents some interesting dialogues and interpretations.
December 24, 2012
A great cast makes this Tennessee Williams play a great piece of glossy Hollywood drama. Newman is terrific as a local boy returning home with a has been movie actress, but get's caught up with an old flame, much to the annoyance of her political boss father, played by the wonderful Ed Begley. It's also fun to see a young, curly haired Rip Torn as Begley's son. And as with most Williams film adaptations, this one was also changed by the censors, who required changing the ending of the film, eliminating any reference to castration. But in any case, it's a great film.
½ December 18, 2012
Tennessee Williams' best plays always feature a sexually-frustrated man or woman in the South. Period. While his best remains to be "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", this adaptation of "Sweet Bird of Youth" still is entertaining. Though the censors of the time diminish much of the controversial topics that made it exciting on Broadway, nothing-less it plays like a nice dish of melodrama, which isn't always a bad thing. Chance Wayne (Paul Newman) is a hustling gigolo who dreams of making it big in Hollywoodland, so decides to seduce aging screen queen Alexandra Del Lago (Geraldine Page) to win a contract. Coincidentally, the odd couple are in Wayne's hometown, where Wayne's old sweetheart (and still first love) Heavenly (Shirley Knight) is pregnant with his child. Her father Boss Finley (Ed Begley) makes it so the two can never meet again. "Sweet Bird of Youth" is mostly a film that showcases its actors, but for the most part, there's moments of brilliance that you can't deny. Richard Brooks, who also adapted "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" once again directs with style, and though the screenplay he penned was forced to pass over the taboos of the day, it still captures the absorbing characters meant to challenge our opinions. Setting everything aside though, the acting is superb, and frankly, is the only reason to see the film. Newman takes the role he played on stage and of course subtly captures his complex character, while Knight is sensitive but serious, but the real scene-stealer is Page, who overacts to the heights of Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond but still captures the "fading Hollywood legend" character with grace. The film never goes into detail about her stardom, which was a big mistake, but Page's performance is so brilliant that you'll forget you have doubts as you watch. "Sweet Bird of Youth" may not be the best film in the Tennessee Williams adaptation cannon, but it's still worth a look.
May 13, 2012
Paul Newman and especially Geraldine Page shine in this lesser-known Tennessee Williams yarn. One of the most provocative films taken from Williams' plays, "Sweet Bird of Youth" isn't quite on the same level as "A Streetcar Named Desire" (few films are, really), but it is a gem in its own right.
February 1, 2012
still the best version of this pitch perfect casting & performances
½ November 30, 2011
I kinda like this more than the play.
½ November 14, 2011
Great movie in the most classic sense. Cast cannot be beat and working with some good Tennessee Williams stuff (not as good as Streetcar but pretty damned good nonetheless.)
October 1, 2011
Great script, great film, great acting, and seemingly quite progressive for its time... but let down by the tacky incoherent Hollywood ending!
September 9, 2011
not a good adaptation for screen...
½ June 27, 2011
Slightly disappointing, the preview was with much more action in the romantic field. Points for Paul Newman and his smooth chest.....Typical Tennessee Williams in the way of boozing ladies, southern madness and unhappiness all around.I was suprised to find out about Ed Begley Sr. and his Oscar for his role as I so dislike Ed Begley Jr....... sigh.
June 6, 2011
Sweet Bird of Youth is a stellar film. It is about a drifter who returns to his hometown after trying to make in the movies. Paul Newman and Geraldine Page give amazing performances. The screenplay is well written and kept me interested. Richard Brooks did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed this motion picture because of the drama. Sweet Bird of Youth is highly recommended.
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