By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –
Richard Brooks has directed some of the most controversial motion pictures of all time. He even won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for Elmer Gantry (1960). Two years prior to that victory, though, Brooks brought to the screen one of the most fiery adaptations of a classic in American drama. Starring Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie the Cat, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a silver screen classic because it captures the complexity of the play by Tennessee Williams while bolstering the careers of its stars, Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor.
This film is definitely one of the best films of 1958. It is full of drama, passion, and secrecy. There are actually numerous instances of illusion versus reality, which are all thematic elements that characterize most of Tennessee Williams’ plays. Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman both deliver strong performances even though neither of them won the Academy Award that year. The screenplay is also very strong and (mostly) faithful to the original source material. That is because of the somewhat controversial topics that had to either be removed or nuanced in order to appease the censors. Even with those minor changes, though, this film captures all of the power and dramatic flare of the original stage production.
1958 is a very interesting year in Oscar history because of the unique combination of “traditional” and “scandalous” films. Gigi won Best Picture even though it is mostly a typical Hollywood musical. Other films, though, began tackling more controversial topics, such as I Want to Live!, starring Susan Hayward. It seems fitting that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof would receive six nominations (but no wins) in 1958 because the 1960s included more risqué motion pictures, like Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Perhaps this film serves as a transitional phase in Hollywood filmmaking as films began to ignore censorship rules in order to create more compelling works of cinematic entertainment. The legacy of this film really does live on, just like how Maggie exclaims, “Maggie the Cat is alive! I’m alive!”
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Brick is seen with crutches
Take a Drink: during every mentioning of “Big Daddy”
Drink a Shot: every time Elizabeth Taylor does something that makes her feel like “a cat on a hot tin roof”