Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive - CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF on Blu-ray ""

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Warner Archive - CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF on Blu-ray

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958; Richard Brooks)
"I'm not living with you. We occupy the same cage, that's all."
Much like another cinematic classic from around this time (REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE), this movie opens with a drunken lead character doing something ridiculous. In the case of REBEL, James Dean's character is sprawled out on the sidewalk in an inebriated state, playing with a toy monkey. In CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, Paul Newman's is setting up hurdles at his old high school's track and attempting to run them. Something about this kind of setup tends to draw me in as a viewer - especially when it's a great actor doing it. One thing this movie made me realize is that I have completely underrated Liz Taylor for quite some time. She became such a caricature of herself in her later years that sometimes I plumb forget how fine an actress she was. Like I somehow start to equate her in my mind to those actors that are all remembered for how they loom and little else. Don't get me wrong, Liz Taylor is quite striking. Her eyes are some of the most cinematic eyes in the history of cinema. The same can of course be said for Paul Newman so it's great to see them both in a movie together. But Liz Taylor in particular was really one of the most dynamic actors of hers or any time. You can really tell what an performer is made of when you see them do this kind of stage play adaptation where they are given long sections of dialogue and have to inhabit it. Between this film and my recent rewatch of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (Also via a nice Warner Archive Blu-ray), I am fully convinced of Taylor's abilities and am fully in awe of them. Both VIRGINIA WOOLF and CAT have disintegrating relationships at their cores and that gives Taylor room to spread out and display affection and contempt with equal aplomb. I engage with stories like this for some reason - in part because it plays like some kind of mystery story  wherein I have to put together the voices of what lead these couples to their current emotionally crippled states. One thing I'll say for CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF - Richard Brooks (who directed and co-wrote the adaptation) does some nice work executing the film, because it feels more like a flowing cinematic thing than a stage play turned into a movie. I had forgotten that Brooks was involved with this one, but he surely elevates it. Besides Paul Newman and Liz Taylor, Burl Ives does one heck of a job bringing the grumpy, clear-eyed patriarch of the family to life. He has this air of world-weary disgust about him and has little tolerance for the hangers on. He's a rich plantation owner you see and word got out they he might be in his deathbed, so the suck-up family members have shown up to do some sucking. But Ives handles his character masterfully. He's by no means likable, but he speaks his mind and has no qualms about telling folks that are blabbering to shut the hell up. Ives is a powerhouse actor and seeing him play a scene with Paul Newman is a treat to say the least. This movie even has one of my favorite performances from Jack Carson and he's an actor I've never been wild about. It also makes great and frequent use of the word "mendacity", which I very much appreciated.
Special Features: 
-Commentary by Biographer Donald Spoto, Author of The Kindness of Strangers: The Life f Tennessee Williams.
-CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF: Playing Cat and Mouse Featurette

-Theatrical Trailer

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

http://amzn.to/2b9Ks9G

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