Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) - Rotten Tomatoes

Suddenly, Last Summer1959

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Suddenly, Last Summer Photos

Movie Info

Tennessee Williams' Suddenly, Last Summer is a domestic drama concerning homosexuality, insanity and cannibalism. Brain surgeon Montgomery Clift is summoned to the home of fabulously wealthy Katharine Hepburn, who wants to have her daughter-in-law Elizabeth Taylor lobotomized. Recently released from an asylum to Hepburn's care, Taylor suffers from horrific nightmares and unpredictable bursts of violent behavior. As it turns out, Taylor is harboring an awful secret concerning Hepburn's late, beloved son--a secret that Hepburn intends to keep from the world, even at the expense of Taylor's life. The explanatory flashback is as lurid a piece of filmmaking as ever emerged from the supposedly white-bread 1950s. Reportedly, Hepburn so despised Mankiewicz that she spit in the director's eye on the last day of filming.

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Elizabeth Taylor
as Catherine Holly
Katharine Hepburn
as Mrs. Violet Venable
Montgomery Clift
as Dr. John Cukrowicz
Albert Dekker
as Dr. Hockstader
Gary Raymond
as George Holly
Mavis Villiers
as Mrs. Foxhill
Patricia Marmont
as Nurse Benson
Joan Young
as Sister Felicity
Sheila Robbins
as Dr. Hockstader's Secretary
David Cameron
as Young Blonde Intern
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Critic Reviews for Suddenly, Last Summer

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5)

The main trouble with the picture is not its subject or its style, but its length.

March 23, 2011 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The cast packs enough sexual ambiguity to satisfy the most rabid Williams fan (not to mention a screenplay by Gore Vidal), but Mankiewicz leaves much of the innuendo unexplored -- thankfully, perhaps.

March 23, 2011 | Full Review…

It has some very effective moments, but on the whole it fails to move.

October 18, 2008 | Full Review…

On film, with Taylor as the woman who saw something nasty and Clift as the psychiatrist trying to probe her trauma, the one-act material is stretched perilously thin; but it works for Hepburn as the incarnation of civilised depravity.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The main trouble with this picture is that an idea that is good for not much more than a blackout is stretched to exhausting length and, for all its fine cast and big direction, it is badly, pretentiously played.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

I found Suddenly, Last Summer hollow, unproductive, unalive, and above all stagey, not cinematic.

July 19, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Suddenly, Last Summer


A psychologist investigates the emotional problems of a woman who returned from a deadly vacation. Tennessee Williams's odd parable comes to life in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's adaptation. Featuring very strong performances by two legendary actresses (Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn), the film delights in its stage play source material. However, what's weird about the play is the same problem with the film. We all know what happened during the summer, but Williams's time prevents him from really telling us, and Mankiewicz's time prevents him from showing us. All this obfuscating makes the film a challenge (sometimes challenges are good), but even so, Mankiewicz's flashbacks must walk the perfect line between showing us too much and showing us too little; sadly, at separate times, it's both. Overall, this is a very strong adaptation of a difficult play.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

While its premise is surely strange, with Taylor's seclusion and her cousin Sebastian's fate up in the air, this film is still wildly entertaining. Hepburn, a seasoned veteran of the screen, takes on the persona of an unfeeling woman cooped up with a misanthrope, different than any other role she has ever undertaken. Clift is personal, but not dodgy, and the chemistry between him and Taylor is palpable.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

This movie is based on a Tennessee Williams play, and is full of drama, intensity, tension, suspense, and sometimes a bit of confusion, but I think it's really a great movie. The cast has big stars, and a great director too. If you like Williams' plays, you should see this movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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