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"Suddenly Last Summer"


joefilmone
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Besides the excellent performances by Hepburn and Taylor, I enjoyed this picture because of the background. It wouldn't have been made with Montgomery Clift but for Taylor, who guaranteed his salary so the insurance company would go along with him in the cast. I've heard and read that she took care of him throughout the movie, waiting for the retakes until he got it right for a scene, helping him with his lines. She was the most loyal friend ever, according to those who witnessed her behavior after his terrible accident. That's nice. It's seldom we hear about people like that.

 

Sinatra did that for people. Lee J. Cobb said after his heart attack Sinatra took him home and put him up while he recovered, although he had never met him before that.

 

Sophie Tucker had people she supported for decades. Her checks would go out every night after her nightclub performances to this endless line of people waiting for them. Jimmy Durante was like that as well. He always had pockets full of cash for people he met when he was eating out or just walking in New York. They called him the softest touch in the business.

 

Now, as for the picture: I always thought it was a horrible movie. Couldn't have been more ghastly, with the turtles and the boys and the people in the crazy house, so I always concentrate on how good ET was to Clift.

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I think one of the films problems is Clift- he looks too much like a mental patient that this young brilliant doctor. But going back to my it's a horror movie theory- yes there is that horrible garden with it's fly eating plants and where the monstrous Sebastian preside over who knows what ghastly ****. Sebastian and his monster mate mother are vampires feeding off those poor children- but can we really believe the phantasmagoric climax- in which the poet is devoured by these street urchins at the ruins of an ancient temple- or this is just the Taylor's characters fantasy. The movie is clearly a product of it's time - even with two gay screen writers- the homosexual monster is destroyed and at the end the heterosexual couple and suppose to go into the sunset together- the film should have really ended with the image of the now demented Mrs Veneble- feeding her cannibal plant and drinking daiquiris .

 

Edited by: joefilmone on Aug 25, 2013 11:33 AM

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Clift really was sort of a weak link. But Taylor and Hepburn both fought for him. Kate even (supposedly) spat in Mankiewicz's face over it and she liked Mankiewicz! I think one of the best performances int he film was Mercedes McCambridge as the money-grubbing mom. Her comic performance, for me, is all that keeps the film from being a complete creep-fest. I liked the movie, but really felt like I needed to shower afterwards...

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Well, I like this movie. I especially like Elizabeth Taylor's performance as a disturbed person and the the confusion in the asylum. Granted, it's over-the-top but it's a movie trying to get a point across (or just be dramatic)

I completely buy Clift's charactor as well as Kate Hepburn's charactor and the oddball situation these people are in. Hey, I'd rather see these people's drama than have anything like that in my own life.

 

slayton- bookmark: http://home.no/femma/smilies and look in subcategories for your desired emoticon. No tongue-in-cheek, but you can pair any with "kidding" like this:

 

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or my favorite when I post something flame-worthy:

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What is the main thing that makes Sebastian a bad person; the fact that he exploits people or that is is homosexual? To me it is clearly the former. i.e. someone like Sebastian derserves the hate from the local poor people for exploiting them regardless of his sexual orentation. But that Taylor flashback wouldn't of been as effective if it showed Sebastian being chased by a group of poor young women he had sexually exploited. i.e. a pack of boys creates a fear factor that wouldn't be the same from a pack of girls.

 

But of course many in the audiences at that time would assume all gays are like Sebastian, instead of him being more of a reflection of the young, rich and idle lifestyle. I wonder if Taylor commented on this film after she became a strong supporter of gay rights.

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The faceless Sebastian is like all those rich tourist who still go to poor countries for sexual exploitation. His death goes beyond gay bashing. If the character had been straight he would not have needed the women as bait. Williams was sympathetic to mental patients like his poor sister. This play is similar to his short story "One Arm" which could make a interesting movie.

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Well we have a very similar views of the movie. As for 'If the character had been straight': yes, regardless of the character?s gender they wouldn?t have required someone of the opposite gender, as bait, if they were straight.

 

Either way I?m glad the plot was as it was; otherwise I wouldn?t of seen Liz in that white bathing suit playing the part of the bait!

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It is really suprising to me that this movie was able to make it to the screen in 1959 with the most shocking elements of the original play still intact. In fact, the revelation of how Sebastian Venable died on that beach in Spain is more shocking in the movie (in my opinion)because we actually see the events in flashback rather than just hear Catherine tell the story as in the play.

 

Just take a look at the trailer for the movie from its original release:

 

 

 

"It looked as if they had devoured him!"

I am amazed that this line (and the description of "bits of him" being "torn away") got past the Production Code still in effect at the time

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It's also surprising that a movie this relentlessly grim became a popular hit. Tennessee Williams was probably at the height of his fame at the time and part of what the public expected from him by that point was a freak show and, boy, did they get one with this movie. Sebastian is a great (hidden) tragic antagonist, the one who brings about the downfall of himself and (nearly, in the case of Catherine) of those around him. The carnivorous garden was his pet project and the trip to see the baby turtles devoured by the birds was a quest to come face-to-face with "his" god. He used human decoys to lure his sexual partners, though the specifics of how that would work still elude me. The offhand manner in which he exploits those dearest to him, as well as strangers, and the ease with which he abandons them (including his own mother) are what make him a marked man. Catherine tells the doctor that Sebastian had been eager to move on to more northern climates, that he was now "famished for blondes", and it seems to me that, more than the fact that Sebastian had used them, it was the fact that he was abandoning them which precipitated the boys' aggression. Being used by someone is at least a validation of sorts, especially if your need is great, but being abandoned is a total rejection. Williams specialty was exploiting these kinds of twists in human nature and he did it brilliantly in "Suddenly, Last Summer".

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Well now you got me thinking about the play movie in yet another way with the "abandoning them" POV.

 

I can't remember but did the locals know that he wanted to go north and was planning on abandoning them?

 

Note that I assumed the locals he 'used' where not gay (well most of them). i.e they would perform any type of act with anyone if the pay was high enough. That type of explotiation creates a lot of anger. But even with that anger would there be even more anger by losing this source of income?

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I think the movie became a hit because Columbia campaigned about how shocking it was. People went. I'm sure most of the audience didnt understand most of it. I'm surprised (in retrospect) that it was shown on network tv in the late 60s intact. That's when I first saw it. I didnt get all of it at the time, but I could guess. I dont think they cut any of it at all (including dialog)...

 

And of course Liz was big boxoffice at the time and there was that swimsuit scene!

 

Edited by: Hibi on Aug 29, 2013 1:58 PM

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Catherine Holly (played by Elizabeth Taylor in the movie) says this to Dr. Cukrowicz: "Is that what love is? Using people? And maybe that's what hate is - not being able to use people.

 

 

One of Catherine's most heartbreaking remarks is when she says (talking about her feelings for her cousin Sebastian): "He liked me so I loved him."

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