Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
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as Catherine Holly
as Mrs. Violet Venable
as Dr. John Cukrowicz
as Mrs. Holly
as Dr. Hockstader
as George Holly
as Mrs. Foxhill
as Nurse Benson
as Sister Felicity
as Dr. Hockstader's Sec...
as Young Blonde Intern
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Critic Reviews for Suddenly, Last Summer
The main trouble with the picture is not its subject or its style, but its length.
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.
It has some very effective moments, but on the whole it fails to move.
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.
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.
This bizarre and often distasteful movie at the end of the 1950s was an omen of things to come.
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.
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.
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.
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