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TEA AND SYMPATHY, a wonderful movie....


FredCDobbs
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This is really a great movie that gets better every time I see it. It's so emotional and sensitive, and in many ways it is probably true to life for a lot of people, although we almost never learn about the real true stories of similar situations of college boys and slightly older women, or perhaps I should say mature women, because Deborah Kerr certainly wasn't old.

 

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The original play was written by Robert Anderson. He also wrote other plays and film scripts, such as:

 

*You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running, a collection of four one-act comedies, opened in New York in 1967 and ran for more than 700 performances. His other successful Broadway plays were Silent Night, Lonely Night (1959) and I Never Sang for My Father (1968).[2]*

 

*He also wrote the screenplays for Until They Sail (1957), The Nun's Story (1959), and The Sand Pebbles (1966). He was Oscar-nominated for The Nun's Story as well as his 1970 screen adaptation of I Never Sang for My Father. He also authored many television scripts, including the TV play The Last Act Is a Solo (1991), and the novels After (1973) and Getting Up and Going Home (1978).*

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Anderson_(screenwriter)

 

Edited by: FredCDobbs on Oct 21, 2013 11:16 AM

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I have a love-hate attitude about this film. I have not seen, nor have I read, the play. What I love: Minnelli's visuals; Kerr's tour-de-force acting (Leif Erickson is also very good); there are some wonderful character actors (notably Edward Andrews); and there is a fair amount of tension to keep one's attention invested for 122 minutes.

 

What I don't like: I think the message is a little belabored; I think this would have been done with a racier flavor if it had been attempted in the pre-code era (probably infused with a bit more audacity and humor); and I think it sort of asks the audience to suspend not only disbelief in certain sections but also to suspend any sort of morality and intelligence. It would have been better if it was done as a black comedy...which leads us to THE GRADUATE.

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Yeah, well, the only problem I'VE ever had with the thing is tryin' to figure out what the hell the cultured and refined Deborah Kerr character ever saw in the slow-witted jock of a husband she married!

 

(...wait, lemme guess here...she thought she could change him too, RIGHT?!) ;)

 

LOL

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Yeah, yeah, I know. And maybe one of the very reasons for the what, the 50% divorce rate in this country now days???

 

(...I guess the women out there STILL don't realize that by around 40 years of age, most of the jocks lose their one and ONLY attribute...they get fat and out o' shape and lose that first quick step to the hoop!)

 

LOL

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>I knew Robert Anderson, who wrote the play and the screenplay. Really nice, erudite man. Married to Teresa Wright, with whom he remained close even after their divorce.

 

Thanks for telling us about that. It must have been really interesting talking to the guy. :)

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She was nominated for 1956's THE KING AND I, which would explain her non nomination that year for TEA AND SYMPATHY. I don't know if anyone, other than in the first years of the Academy Awards, ever got nominated for more than one acting role in the same category. But even then, it was only One nomination, i.e. Janet Gaynor for SUNRISE, STREET ANGEL and SEVENTH HEAVEN. Sort of like, the actor's body of work that year.

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My problem with "Tea and Sympathy" is the premise. Deborah Kerr's character makes the assumption ( based on very little evidence) that Tom is mistakingly characterized as gay. What if he WERE gay? In that case all her meddling- including her seduction - would only confuse him more - even if he id manage to get it up for her.

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I know i am in the miniority here - even Elizabeth Taylor thought it was a "sympathy" Oscar because she almost died that year - but I think her performance in "Butterfield 8" is a fine, star performance. I always enjoy Deborah Kerr, but don't think the acting in "The Sundowners" was particularly Oscar worthy. I wish she had won for "The King and I". To me, Ingrid Bergman's Oscar that year was less for "Anastasia" than a way of signalling that she was " forgiven" for the whole Roberto Rossellini scandal. I also don't see why Kerr was nominted the following year for "Heaven Knows Mr. Allison" and not "An Affair to Remember".

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I'm not sure about acting categories, but it has happened in other categories (being nominated more than once in the same category), particularly the technical nominations (score, song etc....) I'm not sure if the Academy has made a rule about that since.........

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Finance - neither had 50's Broadway ( mastered intricacies of a gay character) as the play was a hit there before coming to Hollywood although the Broadway "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" was certainly more explicit on the topic than the "58 film version. I think it is a weakness in the original premise in Anderson's writing, although I guess it would be fair to say he wrote the character as straight, so therefore he is. However I question the actions of Deborah Kerr 's character who seems deternined that he is straight when from what she would know this may not be the case. I think if Tom were straight he would know it - he would not have to be seduced by the older woman to realize it. He may have been very upset at being seen as gay, if he knew damn well he wasn't however. But then this also seems rather unfair as he does not seem particularly effiminate which seems to be what everyone else in the play (or film) supposedly pick up on.

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I havent seen the film in quite awhile, but wasnt it hinted at that Kerr's hubby had homosexual tendencies or even was one and that was why he hated the other Kerr so much? Is so odd to have the 2 leads with the same last name in the same film.......

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> By the '50s, Hollywood had not exactly mastered the intricacies of the gay persona.

 

Well, yeah, when you consider that in the '50's, one of the gayest actors in Hollywood was hyped as a "heartthrob" to women.

 

The best thing you could say about those times was that homosexuals weren't displayed as "over-the-top" hyper feminine clowns as they are today. A few of the guys I knew since childhood turned out to be gay, and if they didn't "come out", or TELL me, I'd have never guessed. None of them did that limp-wristed, eye rolling cliche you see too much of in television and movies of late. Hell, one of them was the first string quarterback on my high school football team!

 

Sepiatone

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I agree, Sepiatone. This is why I wonder about all the assumptions about Tom's orientation - why do these various characters think he is gay (or in the character D. Kerr plays -straight for that matter) To me there is nothing in the writing that justifies what his character goes through and he may (aside from the writer's making him straight) be gay or not. I guess the premise is that a male showing ANY degree of sensitivity is suspected to be a homosexual, at least by the "manly" men he must cope with in the story. I still maintain that a sensiive gay guy dealing with an older woman who wants him to realize that he is straight, might be quite dismayed when she seduces him to confirm his heterosexuality. He might indeed be kind (as she famously requests ) telling of it years later - sitting on a stool in a gay bar, as he recollects his time as a closeted student and that nice older woman who tried to make him believe he was straight.

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