Thursday, May 9, 2013

Suddenly, Last Summer

1959 American Feature

Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift, Albert Dekker, Mercedes McCambridge and Gary Raymond
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Writers: Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams, based on the play by Tennessee Williams

Sebastian, the only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable, dies while on vacation in Spain with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.


  • Internet Movie Database: 7.6/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes - Critics: 69% / Audience: 82%
  • OMG rating: 7/10

  • DVD: Available
  • Book: Available


  • Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Hepburn and Taylor) and Art Direction - Black and White.
  • David di Donatello Golden Plate Award for Performance (Taylor).
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Drama (Taylor); also nominated for Best Actress - Drama (Hepburn).

  • Tennessee Williams' original one-act play Suddenly, Last Summer was originally paired with his Something Unspoken as part of the 1958 Off-Broadway double-bill titled Garden District. It had its Broadway debut in 1995 starring Elizabeth Ashley, followed by a production in London (starring Diana Rigg) in 2004 and an Off-Broadway revival (starring Blythe Danner, Gale Harold and Carla Gugino) two years later.
  • Although Tennessee Williams received screen credit, he would later say that he had nothing to do with adapting his play for the film.
  • Following A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly, Last Summer was the third of Tennessee Williams' plays to be adapted for the screen that dealt with the subject of homosexuality, although it was far more explicit in its treatment than either of the previous films were allowed to be under the Motion Picture Production Code. The Production Code gave the filmmakers special dispensation to depict Sebastian Venable, declaring: "Since the film illustrates the horrors of such a lifestyle, it can be considered moral in theme even though it deals with sexual perversion."
  • Although publicity stills of Sebastian were shot (showing him as a handsome, if drawn, man in a white suit), his face is never actually seen in the film. Tennessee Williams asserted that no actor could convincingly portray Sebastian and that his absence from the screen would only make his presence more strongly felt.
  • Screenwriter Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams' partner Frank Merlo can be seen among those observing Montgomery Clift operate in the opening sequence of the film.
  • Gore Vidal credits film critic Bosley Crowther with the success of this film. Crowther wrote a scathing review denouncing the film as the work of degenerates obsessed with rape, incest and homosexuality. Vidal believes advertising such salacious detail made audiences flock to the film in droves.
  • The 1992 pornographic video The Wild Thing, starring Ron Jeremy and Peter North, was an X-rated parody of Suddenly, Last Summer.
  • Suddenly, Last Summer was also adapted for BBC television in 1993 starring Maggie Smith (in an Emmy Award nominated performance), Natasha Richardson, Rob Lowe and Richard E. Grant. It aired in America on PBS as an episode of Great Performances.

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