There's nothing I love more than watching beautiful people dealing with major problems. It is so much more interesting than watching ugly people. So, lucky for me, Richard Brooks' 1958 adaptation of the Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof stars two of the most insanely beautiful actors of the era- Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor- and deals with alcoholism, (presumed) infidelity, sexual frustration and (possibly) homosexuality.
It's not surprising, then, to know that this was one of the first "classic" films I ever fell in love with when I started getting into them about six years ago. When I re-watched it again after a couple of years last night, I thought I might be disappointed (which happens so often you re-watch films you once loved when you were younger) but that's not the case. Flaws and all, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is still an exciting, provocative drama with enough great acting to fill three films.
Maggie "The Cat" (Elizabeth Taylor) shoves ice cream into the face of one of the "no-neck monsters"...a true diva moment I had completely forgotten about.
Sure, it's overly theatrical at times and the dialogue is hardly what you would call "natural" but it's adapted from a Tennessee Williams play for Christ's sake; I wouldn't exactly call him Mr. Naturalistic. And I think that's what makes Cat on a Hot Tin Roof work so well. These aren't subtle people who keep their problems to themselves. They let everything out and hold nothing back. Consequently, their verbal sparring matches practically explode on the screen.
Maggie to Brick: "We're not living together! We're merely occupying the same cage, that's all!"
There's really not way I can describe in words just how sexy of an on-screen couple Taylor and Newman are together; it's best seen with your own eyes. And from my description in the beginning it's probably hard to understand, but just imagine these actors at the peak of their beauty lying around in pajamas and a slip for a good portion of the film with a bunch of sexual tension hanging over the room and you'll begin to understand. It's a lot like Brangelina in Mr. & Mrs. Smith without all of the guns and explosions- it's that intense. I just wish we got chemistry like this more often.