Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1950s Suddenly Last Summer (1959)

Suddenly Last Summer (1959)

This wonderfully overheated drama by Tennessee Williams, who wrote the screenplay with Gore Vidal, is animated by ultra-powerful performances from Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn.

Taylor plays Catherine Holly, the niece about to be committed to a mental institution by southern matriarch Mrs Violet Venable (Hepburn) after witnessing the violent death of her cousin, Sebastian (Violet’s much-loved son).

Montgomery Clift is Dr John Cukrowicz, the neurosurgeon called in to assess the girl’s sanity rating before a possible lobotomy.

Elizabeth Taylor portrays Catherine’s brittleness ideally as she nervously puffs on a cigarette as she cottons on to her family’s plans for her so they can secure Sebastian’s fortune left to her in his will.

All the way through there are references to how Sebastian met his demise – as when Catherine accidentally ends up in the male half of the asylum and is crowded, or when Mrs Venable feeds her carnivorous plants and speaks of baby turtles being eaten by birds.

Director Joseph L Mankiewicz makes it a class act all round.

Catherine Holly
Elizabeth Taylor
Dr John Cukrowicz
Montgomery Clift
Mrs Violet Venable
Katharine Hepburn
Dr Hockstader
Albert Dekker
Mrs Holly
Mercedes McCambridge
George Holly
Gary Raymond
Miss Foxhill
Mavis Villiers
Sister Felicity
Joan Young
Nurse Benson
Patricia Marmont
Maria Britneva

Joseph L. Mankiewicz