Tennessee Williams apparently praised Joseph Losey's film as the best screen adaptation of one of his plays. Few critics, however, would praise the source play - The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore - as one of Williams' finest. Indeed, I'd rate it as his very worst. In a way it's classic Williams' territory: there's a lot of high-camp shrieking, pain and bitching, but this time around the plot is incomprehensible, far-fetched and without any ambition to deal with realism or elicit empathy for any character.
As a recent retrospective of Losey's films proved, he was a director of some hits and too many major misses. This is one of the latter - on a par with the dreadful 'Modesty Blaise' - where the director seems out of control, without a clue how to control the tone of the piece. It also marks a career low for poor old Noel Coward playing 'the Witch of Capri'. It is certainly not a film that does Elizabeth Taylor's reputation many favours, either.
Under normal circumstances I would reward this film with a single, lonely star. However, given John Barry's top-notch score, the remarkable hat that Elizabeth Taylor wears in one scene and Richard Burton's ability to turn in a compelling performance and ignore the over-blown fiasco that surrounds him I won't be quite that ungenerous. Renew your faith in Williams and Elizabeth Taylor and buy the DVD of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof instead.