Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

  • Directors: Richard Brooks
  • Producers: Lawrence Weingarten
  • Writers: Tennessee Williams, Richard Brooks, James Poe
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives

Late one night, Brick Pollitt (Paul Newman) is out trying to recapture his glory days of high school sports by leaping hurdles on a track field, dreaming about his glory moments as a youthful athlete. Unexpectedly, he falls, leaving him dependent on a crutch. Brick, along with his wife, Maggie “the Cat” (Elizabeth Taylor), are seen the next day visiting his family in Mississippi, waiting to celebrate Big Daddy’s 65th birthday.

Depressed, Brick decides to spend his days inside drinking while resisting the affections of his wife, who taunts him about the inheritance of Big Daddy’s wealth. Numerous allusions are made as to their tempestuous marriage–the most haunting of these are speculations as to why Maggie does not yet have children, while Brick’s brother Gooper (Jack Carson) and his wife (Madeleine Sherwood) have a whole clan, many of which run around the “plantation” (as Big Daddy’s estate is called) unsupervised and singing obnoxiously.

Big Daddy (Burl Ives) and Big Mama (Judith Anderson) arrive home from the hospital and are greeted by Gooper and his wife, along with Maggie. The news is that Big Daddy is not dying from cancer. However, the doctor later visits privately with Brick and divulges to him that it is a deception; Big Daddy is a terminal case, but the family wants him to remain happy. Maggie begs Brick to put care into getting his father’s wealth, but Brick stubbornly refuses. When Big Daddy is fed up with his alcoholic son’s behavior, he demands to know why he is so stubborn. Brick angrily refuses to answer.

Big Daddy learns that he will die from cancer before his birthday. Shaken, he retreats to the basement. Meanwhile, Gooper, his wife, Maggie, and Brick argue over Big Daddy’s will. Finally, Brick descends into the basement, a labyrinth of antiques and family possessions hidden away. Once he finds his father, Brick and Big Daddy confront each other before a large cut-out of Brick in his glory days as an athlete. They eventually decide to give the inheritance to Maggie, who “has life.” Brick, with his troubles behind him, and the couple finally shares a long kiss.

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