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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

From Academic Kids

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a play by Tennessee Williams. The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955.

It tells the story of a Southern family in crisis, focusing on the turbulent relationship of a wife and husband, Maggie "The Cat" and Brick Pollitt, and their interaction with Brick's family over the course of a weekend gathering at the family estate in Mississippi, ostensibly to celebrate the birthday of patriarch and tycoon "Big Daddy" Pollitt. Maggie, through wit and beauty, has escaped a childhood of desperate poverty to marry into the wealthy Pollitt family, but finds herself suffering in an unfulfilling marriage. Brick, an aging football hero, has neglected his wife and further infuriates her by ignoring his brother's attempts to gain control of the family fortune. Brick's indifference, and his nearly continuous drinking, date back to the recent suicide of his friend Skipper.

Although Big Daddy has cancer and will not celebrate another birthday, his doctors and his family have conspired to keep this information from him and his wife. His relatives are in attendance and attempt to present themselves in the best possible light, hoping to receive the definitive share of Big Daddy's enormous wealth.

The central theme of the play is mendacity, a word Brick uses to describe his disgust about the world. Moreover it revolves around the lies in the aging and decaying Southern society. With one exception, the entire family lies to Big Daddy and Big Momma, as do the doctors. Big Daddy lies to his wife. Will Maggie be willing to lie to her father-in-law in order to gain his favor? Brick will not lie to his father, but is he lying about the nature of his relationship with his deceased friend or his feelings for him?

The play alludes to the presence of homosexuality in Southern society and examines the complicated rules of social conduct in this culture. The Hays Code required that the film could not be clear that Brick had sexual desire for his buddy, and thus toned down the original play's critic of homophobia and sexism.

There are two versions of the play, one of which was influenced by director Elia Kazan, who directed the play on Broadway, and another which was performed for the first time in London, England.

Film version

A 1958 film based on the play stars Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, Jack Carson, Judith Anderson and Madeleine Sherwood. The movie was adapted by Richard Brooks and James Poe, and directed by Brooks.

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role, (Paul Newman), Best Actress in a Leading Role, (Elizabeth Taylor), Best Cinematography, Color, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

Tennessee Williams detested this bowdlerized adaptation and advised people not to see it. Bowing to the tenor of the times, the suggestion of Brick's homosexuality and the circumstances of Skipper's suicide were changed.

Television

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was remade for television in 1976, starring Laurence Olivier, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner and Maureen Stapleton. It was directed by Robert Moore. Another television version appeared in 1985, starring David Dukes, Penny Fuller, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Lange, Kim Stanley and Rip Torn. It was directed by Jack Hofsiss.

Famous Quotations

  • What's that smell in this room? Didn't you notice it, Brick? Didn't you notice the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?
  • Maggie: I'll win, alright
    Brick: Win what? What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?
    Maggie: Just staying on it, I guess. As long as she can.
  • I'm not living with you! We occupy the same cage, that's all.
  • The only thing Brick can carry is a football and a highball.ja:熱いトタン屋根の猫
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