Tennessee Williams' Broadway smash CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF landed on the big screen in 1958 with plenty of star power intact, garnering 6 Academy Award nominations.
Set on a huge Southern plantation, we meet Big Daddy (Burl Ives) and his family, loaded with drama, greed and resentment.
It's Big Daddy's 65th birthday and his son Gooper (Jack Carson) has arrived with his wife Mae and their relentlessly obnoxious 5 kids in tow.
Big Daddy's son Brick is also in attendance. He's a former college football star and current alcoholic, nursing a broken foot courtesy of a late night drunken attempt at hurdles. Brick is played by Paul Newman, 34 at the time and smoldering with resentment for his wife Maggie, well played by Elizabeth Taylor.
Taylor is stunning and terrific as a woman lusting for the man her husband used to be and stopping at nothing to get him back to form.
Burl Ives is the real revelation in his Oscar nominated performance as Big Daddy. I have to admit I've only seen Ives in a couple roles and am most familiar with him as the annual voice of the snowman on the Christmas favorite Rudolph.
He's terrific as Big Daddy. Battling cancer and a family circling like vultures for his power and fortune, Ives is fantastic in every moment of the film, especially in his authentic interactions with Newman and Taylor as a couple with more than a few secrets.
Williams writing is filled with family drama, creating the art of family "truth telling" decades before Tracy Letts sharpened the exercise to a lethal battle in "August Osage County".
I saw the Williams play on Broadway with Ashley Judd as Maggie and Jason Patric as Brick. Suffice to say they paled in comparison to Taylor and Newman, but Charles During made a hell of a run at Big Daddy, blowing those two off the stage.
Taylor's husband Mike Todd was killed in a plane crash the day that filming started, but she forged ahead with one of her best performances.
Both Robert Mitchum AND Elvis Presley (!?) turned down the role of Brick before Newman made it his own.
After many years, this Hot Tin Roof still sizzles its way to a drama filled B.