- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Tennessee Williams at his finest
- John Fowler
This is a brilliant verbal tour de force on Williams' part--the profound and the perverse in a rather thin domestic plot, but elevated--greatly elevated--by the soliloquies and character portrayals by some of the greatest actors of the mid-twentieth century. Anyone who knows a certain type of southern woman in denial will be astounded at the teeth-grating accuracy of Mercedes McCambridge's performance. Montgomery Clift's performance is solid, if uninspired. Elizabeth Taylor, on the other hand, explodes with that over the top hysteria that only she could manage on screen. But the star of the film is Kathryn Hepburn, whose depiction of the grieving mother, Violet, is chilling and theatrically grand.A wealthy woman in New Orleans has a son to whom she is perhaps overly attached(!). The son, Sebastian, is a "poet," who only writes one poem a year, his poem of summer, written as he and his mother, Violet, travel through exotic places together, in a relationship that has clearly incestuous tones. The previous summer, Sebastian had refused to go on vacation with his mother, but instead had gone off with his younger cousin. On this trip, Sebastian dies, under mysterious circumstances. The cousin comes back babbling what Violet considers to be vile insanity, and is placed in a mental hospital. As the film starts, a psychiatrist, known for his adeptness at doing lobotomies, is cozened by Violet "to cut the lies out of" the young girl. What follows is a fascinating uncovering of what actually happened last summer. Along the way are deeply disturbing discussions about the nature of human interactions and the character of God.The movie is black and white. There are no explosions or Kung-fu fights. Almost all the drama and narrative action are simple recollections of things that happened off-stage. Think instead of Sophocles' Oedipos Tyrannos, where the terror and tragedy is revealed by high poetry delivered with verve and beauty.
Suddenly last summer
I'm puzzled by Katherine Hepburn's involvement in this movie. We're used to Elizabeth Taylor starring in overly talky melodramas of dysfunction, but Hepburn usually made other (better) acting choices. Also sad to see Montgomery Clift in such pathetic condition. The film must have been shocking to audiences in its day. Just seems creepy today.
That Patient Gown!
Full disclosure: I love this movie not because it's great but because it would've made such a great parody on the Carol Burnett Show. As a health care professional, one of the things that stood out for me (among many things), was the tightness of Liz's hospital gown while in the mental health facility. Good God, they must have sewn her into it! Back in the day, those things usually fit like potato sacks.
Suddenly Vast Bummer
Reviewer K.S. was accurate in noting the theme in T.W.'S play did not agree with T.W.'S experiential outcome. The movie was well executed with the players as their characters inspite of star reknown. The wordlogged script required listening. The notion of a high-end mother revering her exquisitely fashioned/annual poet son (who we never see) & his being consumed by his procured flock could be a dysphoric reference to Modonna & Child/Last Supper! No matter the degree of delusion, Someone is watching & weighing those found wanting!
Over acted and overly wordy. Not a great vehicle for any of them, but especially not for Elizabeth.
suddenly last summer
- kevin sellers
Not one of my favorites from this brilliant playwright. Basically, Williams told the wrong story, in my opinion. I could have used a lot more of Sebastian (including his face!) and a lot less of Dr. Sugar (and I'm a big Montgomery Clift fan.) And Williams' theme, that the artist in conflict with society will always be destroyed by it, does not jibe with his own life. Society lionized Tennessee, even after he came out of the closet. He destroyed himself. And his better plays explore that particular tragedy.
Loved this twisted movie!
- Kevin Paul
How is it I never heard of this movie. Better then Virginia Wolf, (two drunks raging at each other,) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, (a movie about real homophobias and self hatred.) Sebastian was having sex with BOYS. This movie was NOT about the treatment of gay men though out the world. It is about a pathological narcissism. Perhaps some should see the entire movie before commenting
Sebastian's Fate,A Must See Movie
Never really understood the movie before,as had never watched it all.Still haven't seen all of it,but understand it better.Sebastian was gay,but no matter what he did to be with a male,didn't deserve to be killed,or as others have said,a gaybashing.Maybe he had help luring some or most of the males he was with,but he didn't technically rape to have companionship.It probably does qualify as statutory rape,but isn't that what the police are there to report to?Never particularly cared for Kate,but after hearing how she & Liz stuck up for Monty,my hat's off to them both.Who wouldn't have deepseated psych issues after a near fatal car accident?No one said the moneymen ever possessed an ounce of empathy.
Oh what a relief it was...
- New Mexican
I was 15 years when I saw this film for the first time. It was a relief and an excitement to see a film ABOUT something instead of Gidget movies. This film was dark (a film noir in the blazing sun, with thanks to another reviewer), exciting, mysterious. But it used words brilliantly, words that revealed and words that obscured. I knew that even then. I remember thinking that this film was as complicated as life, but a lot more elegant. Maybe there really was a place where people struggled to say the truth like Elizabeth Taylor. That was dangerous, I knew, but she did it. Maybe there were places where they lived as gorgeously as Katherine Hepburn, even though she definitely wasn't happy. I already knew for sure that there were people like the Mercedes McCambridge's mother and her son -- in my very own family. There was the message though, that Spain (or was that Italy?) was really dangerous if you taunted "the natives." I didn't think they would really eat you, but people got so upset about homosexuals even in the US, maybe they would.Later that year I saw La Dolce Vita and I understood what was okay...at least I thought so: dress really well and get in the fountain in great clothes.
- don letta
Until the '70's, Hollywood had a difficult time with the "look" of any period after the turn of the century. Often they were satisfied with authentic automobiles establishing the time period. Think The Carpetbaggers, Al Capone, Splendor in the Grass, The Hoodlum Saint, etc...Suddenly Last Summer is an amusing amalgam of authentic and bizarre. Makeup and Hair... all 1959. Mercedes outfits... pretty accurate 1937, Taylor, an interesting effort by Louis, of combining elements of both 1937 and 1959, and Hepburn in downright bizarre attire... the white coat and fluffy hat... late forties?It took Chinatown to dictate a most important aspect of storytelling... make it authentic!As for the film, itself, Taylor's performance was correct for the shrill woman she was playing. Hepburn was indeed over the top, and Cliff, considering what he had recently endured, was splendid. All in all, an excellent film with the caveats mentioned. If this could be remade today, with the original cast... now that would be something.
Wasn't Mercedes McCambridge Overlooked?
- John West
First, what we have here is not so much a movie as theatre in movie format. And Joseph Mankiewicz was a master of this format. The storyline is offbeat for the times, the 50s. For this reason, it's a wonder that the film was such a success in the first place. Even the hint of homosexuality, pretty much like interracial marriage, was uncomfortable theme for many of the times.Second, comes an equally offbeat cast. Imagine Elizabeth Taylor, Kate Hepburn, Monty Clift, and, lo, Mercedes McCambridge. Whatever her place in any movie, you just couldn't overlook the presence of McCambridge, could you? I've been rather annoyed for that reason as I notice most reviews overlooked her dynamic presence altogether. But to go on, there's an undercurrent of mental instability running throughout the entire film. Which is probably why the film was so arresting in presentation and acting.Lastly, Joseph Mankiewicz! What else can be said about the genius director. I've never seen anything I didn't thoroughly ingest directed by him, "The Barefoot Contessa" and "All About Eve," for starters. I do admit I found it interesting he didn't direct "This Property's Condemned," also another Tennessee Williams standout. I've already rated the movie in detail. So no need to gild the lily! Suffice it to say that "Suddenly, Last Summer" was one of my all-time favorite theatre experiences!
Suddenly, Last Summer
Sex and cannibalism, what terrific elements for an unforgettable vacation! Clift is a neurosurgeon bribed by Hepburn's wealthy widow, a role that earned her an Oscar nomination, to lobotomize her niece, Taylor in a role that won the Golden Globe. Some overly-chatty scenes go on for too long, prolonging the progression of the story, which is cleaner than Williams' play. A good, but not great adaptation of a work from Williams'. I give it 3.5/5.
Most annoying movie ever -- well, almost
Too talky on the one hand, plus pronouncing the absent son's name in every other sentence is annoying as hell.
best movi about lifethank you
best movie about life
Suddenly Last summer
Suddenly Last Summer was in theaters so long ago and still shocks me today. It's so bizzare twisted and creepy. A very dark movie. It isn't for the weak for sure. Extremely well done and it hits you hard! It's so scary that people were able to just order a lobodimy for some one they wanted to get rid of if they had plenty of money. All actors were fantastic!
Suddenly last summer
Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Montgomery Clift give powerhouse performances in this Tennessee Williams story. A mother goes to extremes to protect her son-hiding the events of his life and death from the public. Montgomery Clift plays a psychiatric doctor who carefully unravels the awful truth.
Suddenly on film
- Jarrod McDonald
I think this is where Elizabeth Taylor really breaks out of the pack. She has come a LONG way from her child star days; gives a very fine performance; and she receives an Oscar nomination for this role (as does Hepburn for hers). Tennessee Williams' play is revised significantly for the Hollywood film: subplots and additional characters are added, and references to Sebastian being a homosexual are made less explicit. The cannibalism of Sebastian is still referenced, but of course, not directly shown. The story draws heavily from the author's own life, as his sister Rose had undergone a lobotomy in the 30s; and Williams himself was gay. Williams had also begun psychoanalysis in the mid-to-late 50s, and that is very much reflected in the scenes with Elizabeth's character and the doctor, played by costar Montgomery Clift. This is the third and final collaboration for Liz and Monty.
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
- Jay Higgins
So very Tennessee Williams. Powerfully acted, what an amazing cast. Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor give amazing performances. Very heavy drama, at times disturbing and certainly controversial, especially for 1959. Great direction.
Best Movie Adaptation Of A Williams Play
Striking photography; wonderful performances by Hepburn and Taylor; not Clift's finest work. Arguably, the best film adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play. The scriptwriters and director open up the small play beautifully. The horror and sadness Williams felt over his sister's lobotomy seemed to color all his dramas, not just this one which deals so obviously with the subject. How nightmarish (not to mention unethical) that a merely depressed and traumatized patient--especially one as articulate and full of life as Catharine--would even be considered a good candidate for this surgery....It's a shame that homosexuality couldn't be discussed frankly in the 1950s. Far less importantly, it's disappointing that filmmakers of that era made little effort to get all the costumes, makeup and hairstyles correct when shooting period pieces. The movie was set in 1937, but it would be difficult to guess that from Elizabeth Taylor's appearance in her Jean Louis wardrobe. Fortunately, Taylor's complete immersion in her character makes that a minor quibble....(BTW, some of your database information about this movie could be wrong. Frankie Merlo might be in the opening OR scene, but the extra who only vaguely resembles Gore Vidal is probably not the distinguished writer. Perhaps the sorta-look-alike was planted there as a joke? It's clearly stated in Vidal's official biography that he kept away from the SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER set; and, although Vidal writes in his memoirs about the movie and discusses his other acting gigs, there seems to be no mention in either volume of this extra work.)
Elizabeth Taylor triumps!
- Donald Casey
An extraordinary movie experience with a sensational performance by Elizabeth Taylor and an overly mannered one by Hepburn.Not for the undiscriminating viewer.
one of my favorites
gothic drama written by the shakesphere of our times.great performances and directing serve tennessee williams vivd, poetic dialog.williams in his plays takes the most sordid situations and raises them to high drama, high art with his writing.everything is thrown in the mix here, much implied.... it's hard to tell what really happened, leaves you thinking.and hepburn's soliloquy about 'the face of god' and the sea turtles is a knockout.
- Marcos Augusto
This film is on New York Times 1,000 best movies list. It has three great stars, in amazing performances. I've just bought the DVD. Also great screenplay and diraction.
To answer another poster's question, Sebastian was gay and a pedophile, but he and Violet would be more what would be called "emotionally incestuous", especially on her part. This is such a wonderful movie, especially the direction, as well as the performances (esp Hepburn and Taylor).
A cinematic Masterpiece!
I don't know if it's possible to have a film noir in the blazing, scorching sunlight of the day. If it is, then this film is it! A distrubing, unsettling character study that reveals why some truths are better off remaining "unspoken". From the superb direction and phenomenal acting, to the very oft, disturbing settings and images, this film touches a nerve and then reverberates with precise direction, right down to the bone. A very intense film that should not be missed.
sordid but enthralling
- michael york
one of the best adaptations of a williams play excellent performances i just wish that mankiewicz had been kinder to montgomery clift
Saw something about that movie...
Saw a synopsis on this movie and Elizabeth Taylor in general and from what I gathered, they implied that Elizabeth's character was sexually molested...pretty heavy stuff for back then! Sort of a dark looking movie about a sad subject. Not sure I can handle that one! All the best to ya'
Suddenly Last Summer
- Alice Lumpkin
I just wrote a question about the movie I just watched on TCM (5/12/06) Sudenly Last Summer. Now I want to know if someone answers the questions, or is it just posted on some board? Please reply A. Lumpkin
Suddenly Last Summer Movie
- Alice Lumpkin
I just watched the Movie, Suddenly Last Summer on TCM today 05/12/06 and I want to know just what it was really saying. Was Sebastian a homosectual, and/or was he and his mother sexually imtimate? I know this is probably a stupid question for some, but I do not know, and after watching it I want to know what it means. Thank you, A. Lumpkin
Classic Tennessee Williams
- Bob Galvin-Oliphant
Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift are all excellent in this Tennessee Williams classic. Many good films have been made of William's plays, and Suddenly, Last Summer ranks among the best.