Google+ Followers

Wednesday, 13 November 2013





Natalie Wood and Elizabeth Taylor had one thing in common -- beauty and a delectable innate sexiness. So it makes sense that both would tackle Tennesse Williams Maggie the Cat, in "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof."

In this version of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," its clear that the characters of Brick and Maggie the Cat are older. But, that makes the drama just that much more believable and interesting. They've put on a few years, which enhances the desperation of all the characters to achieve their goals and needs.

Maggie will not allow herself and Brick to miss out on the financial safety net that gives her a sense of peace. Brick, is even more on the edge from burying his feelings about his dead school friend and former football teammate, whom he probably held an unacceptable sexual attraction for.

The heart of this presentation is Natalie Wood's incredible portrayal of Maggie the Cat. She brings a sensuality to the part that makes the audience believe that she will triumph in her endeavors. Against all odds. And these odds are great in this unwatered down production.

Maggie the Cat has a tougher time in this version. In the 1958 film version starring Taylor and Paul Newman, the filmmakers couldn't explore Bricks' sexuality.

In this 1976 TV version, its fully explored per the original intentions of the author. Maggie is trying against the odds to seduce a husband whose attraction leans in another direction, to achieve her goal -- security. To please an old man that she admires and loves. To win back her true love? Maybe.

In the end, my money is on Nat!

Robert Wagner gives one of his best (and true to the character performances). Brick is a drunk -- and Wagner portrays him as just that. Sir Olivier connects with his co-stars, as do the other supporting actors.

The most substantial drawback in this production are -- the production values itself. The Director plans his shots like a bad soap opera. His camera is often aimed too close when he should be wide to capture the scenery and reactions of other players. His cuts are at times jarring. He misses performances through terrible shot selection.

Still, its long past due for this classic to be released to video tape, if only to see the beauty that is and was Natalie Wood, and the classic wonder that is Sir Olivier and company.



The 1976 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Laurence Olivier, Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood and Maureen Stapleton is a lesser-known, yet still outstanding version of this classic play. Natalie Wood plays Maggie the Cat, a middle-aged woman married to an ex football star who is no longer in love with her and has turned to alcohol to deal with the death of a friend. Robert Wagner is Maggie's husband Brick, who just wants some peace and quiet so he can relax and drink his whiskey. Brick and Maggie are visiting Brick's father Big Daddy, played by Laurence Olivier, who has just been diagnosed with cancer on this his sixty-fifth birthday. Big Daddy is a multi-millionaire who owns a 28,000-acre plantation in Mississippi. Big Momma is having a birthday party for Big Daddy so the entire family is at the estate and everyone is creating drama. Big Daddy’s eldest son Gooper and his wife Mae and their five children seem to be the cause of most of the drama. This isn’t their intention of course, it’s just that they are very loud and very brash and don’t exactly keep to themselves and aren’t exactly cordial. Gooper and Mae aren’t alone at fault, as Big Daddy himself has a few outbursts and Brick and Maggie’s marital problems are very obvious whenever they are together. At first it is kept from Big Momma and Big Daddy that Big Daddy has cancer, they are told that his tests were negative in order to let Big Momma enjoy the birthday party. It is inevitable however that they tell Big Momma the truth about Big Daddy’s cancer something that kind of hangs over their heads throughout the story. The film is done with Tennessee Williams' screenplay and has outstanding performances by Olivier and Wood. The film is really shot and acted more like a stage play and not like a movie. What I mean to say is that it is very theatrical and not cinematic. This isn’t a problem of course; it just takes a couple minutes to get used to. I didn't think Robert Wagner was all that great, he is more of a film actor and less theatrical but he got better as the film went on. This version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is definitely worth watching, especially if you're a Tennessee Williams fan.

No comments:

Post a Comment