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Suddenly Last Summer [DVD] 
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Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn each received 1960 Oscar(r) nominations for Best Actress in this gripping adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play. Beautiful Catherine Holly (Elizabeth Taylor) is committed to a mental institution after witnessing the horrible death of her cousin at the hands of cannibals. Catherine's aunt, Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn), tries to influence Dr. Cukrowicz(Montgomery Clift), a young neurosurgeon, to surgically end Catherine's haunting hallucinations. Byutilizing injections of sodium pentothal, Dr. Cukrowicz discovers that Catherine's delusions are, in fact, true. He then must confront Violet about her own involvement in her son's violent death.
This black-and-white film adaptation of Tennessee Williams's Southern gothic play is perhaps more famous for the rumored off-screen shenanigans of its stars than for its over-the-top repressed sexuality (only Williams could pull off that paradox, and pull it off he does). Supposedly, stars Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor battled for screen time; Hepburn warred very publicly with director Joseph Mankiewicz; and a post-accident Montgomery Clift relied heavily on painkillers and support from friend Taylor during the gruelling shoot. Even this, however, cannot top the events of the film itself, revolving around the unseen playboy Sebastian and his mysterious death, which has something to do with young boys, a decadent European vacation and Taylor in a provocative wet, white bathing suit. To give away the plot would spoil the fun, but suffice it to say that what Taylor saw was so horrible it drove her nuts, and Sebastian's mother (Hepburn) wants her to have a lobotomy in order to keep it from coming out; Clift is brought in to do the procedure. It's all a hoot and a holler, but as played by the two leading ladies (both of whom nabbed Oscar nominations), it's also compelling, chilling, and utterly gothic. Taylor gives a fierce performance, as the climaxing monologue that reveals Sebastian's "secret" rests entirely on her shoulders, and Hepburn plays brilliantly against type as Sebastian's manipulating, overbearing mother. Only Clift, saddled with a dreary character in charge of plot exposition, fails to deliver. Adapted by Gore Vidal. --Mark EnglehartSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
Quite daring for its time, I still find it a powerful story, and it ranks high among my favourites. The performances from the two ladies and Montgomery Clift and a strong direction from Joseph L. Mankiewicz have managed to avoid it to age, despite the topics it touches (homosexuality and mental illness). The DVD presents the film in a rather good copy, although not comparable to more recent black and white releases such as the restored "Casablanca", with some extras of no consequence.
the bizarre tale involves an extremely wealthy and patronising American widow violet Venables who is grieving her dead son Sebastian who died an alleged accident somewhere in the mediterranean on a vacation suddenly last summer ,while accompanied by his gorgeous young cousin .
Mrs.Venables has hired a young neuro-surgeon with the sole purpose of having her distraught niece lobotomized for her incoherent and hysterical utterances regarding the circumstances of Sebastian's demise ,since she wants to protect her son's tarnished reputation which will be destroyed if the claims of her niece are regarded as the veritable truth .
the plot is almost borrowed from William's own life and GORE VIDAL rewrote the script where he gave the whole issue a very relevant and crucial tinge of truth while almost creating a literary script of immaculate superiority .
the sycophantic direction by Mr.Read more ›
The central question in this movie is, of course, "what happened last summer?", and the spectator will be immediately drawn into the mystery. Unfortunately for us, the only witness to what happened is Catherine Holly (Elizabeth Taylor), a beautiful and traumatized young woman who became mentally unbalanced after witnessing the death of her cousin Sebastian Venable. Her aunt, wealthy Mrs. Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn), thinks that Catherine should be lobotomized. That is the reason why she urges neurosurgeon Dr. John Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift) to perform the operation. However, Dr. Cukrowicz believes that his patient may not be mad, after all, and that Mrs. Violet Venable might want the lobotomy in order to destroy Catherine's mind. But what does Cathy know? What happened last summer?
On the whole, I think that you will like this movie, if you don't mind the somber tone that pervades it. Recommended!
To add a further note of malice, the mother, played by Katharine Hepburn, wants to pay for a new wing of a hospital to be built as a legacy to her son's memory, so the hospital finds itself under pressure to perform the operation. The doctor in charge of the case is brilliantly portrayed by Montgomery Clift in another of those roles, a bit like his Father Logan in I Confess, where he has to juggle what he can and can't say, and shows immense discretion as well as a protective feeling towards someone in trouble. These three actors all give superb performances and the script, by Gore Vidal from a play by Tennessee Williams, is riveting.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was surprised to find that this film was actually shot at Shepperton Studios in England. It`s an interesting film but hardly a "classic".Published 1 month ago by W. J. Tapp
What is remarkable about this dialogue driven film is that the performances are gripping enough to make one concentrate on quite complex thought processes. Read morePublished 2 months ago by droog
Don't misunderstand me. I really love this classic.
Unfortunately this BluRay edition is terrible: only one audio track, no subtitles, no extras, no menu and, the worst, the... Read more
Elizabeth Taylor performance surprises, she was a great dreamatic actress. Theatre again ina DVD!Published 5 months ago by helena
This is one of the late Elizabeth Taylor films in this one she acts with Montgomery Clift and the late brilliant Katherine Hepburn Elizabeth acted in many films which were written... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Shirley Steadman