Friday, March 2, 2012

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a play by Tennessee Williams. One of Williams's best-known works and his personal favorite, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955. Set in "the bed-sitting room of a plantation home in the Mississippi Delta" of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon, the play examines the relationships among members of Big Daddy's family, primarily between his son Brick and Brick's wife Maggie the "Cat".

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof features several recurring motifs, such as social mores, greed, superficiality, mendacity, decay, sexual desire, repression, and death. Dialogue throughout is often rendered phonetically to represent accents of the American South.

The play was adapted as a motion picture of the same name in 1958, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman as Maggie and Brick, respectively. Williams made substantial excisions and alterations to the play for a revival in 1974. This has been the version used for most subsequent revivals, which have been numerous.

Original Broadway cast

* Barbara Bel Geddes as Margaret
* Ben Gazzara as Brick
* Burl Ives as Big Daddy
* Mildred Dunnock as Big Mama
* Pat Hingle as Gooper, sometimes called Brother Man
* Madeleine Sherwood as Mae, sometimes called Sister Woman
* R.G. Armstrong as Doctor Baugh, pronounced "Baw"
* Fred Stewart as Reverend Tooker
* Janice Dunn as Trixie
* Seth Edwards as Sonny
* Maxwell Glanville as Lacey
* Pauline Hahn as Dixie
* Brownie McGhee as Brightie
* Darryl Richard as Buster
* Eva Vaughn Smith as Daisy
* Sonny Terry as Small
* Musa Williams as Sookey

The big-screen adaptation of the play was made in 1958 by MGM, and starred Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Judith Anderson, and Jack Carson, with Burl Ives and Madeleine Sherwood reprising their stage roles. The Hays Code limited Brick's portrayal of sexual desire for Skipper, and diminished the original play's critique of homophobia and sexism. Williams was reportedly unhappy with the screenplay, which removed almost all of the homosexual themes and revised the third act section to include a lengthy scene of reconciliation between Brick and Big Daddy. Paul Newman, the film's star, had also stated his disappointment with the adaptation. Despite this, the film was highly acclaimed and was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman both received Oscar nominations for their performances. Most critics agreed that the film provided both them and Burl Ives with their finest screen roles up to that time. Burl Ives was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor that year, and won, but it was for his role in the epic Western The Big Country. Cat may have been too controversial for the Academy voters; the film won no Oscars, and the Best Picture award went to Gigi that year.

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