It’s set in 1937, in New Orleans. Catherine Holly (Elizabeth Taylor) is a seemingly insane, young New Orleans debutante. Mrs. Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn) is Cathy’s wealthy, dowager, overbearing aunt who wants to lobotomize her because she saw something nasty about her deceased son Sebastian that made her hysterical and the aunt fears if she talks it will result in a scandal about her son’s sexual orientation and mom’s role as a procurer. Cathy is being treated at the Lyons View State Asylum by the young brain surgeon from Chicago Dr. John Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift), who is skeptical of her condition and talks with both Violet and Catherine. He concludes there is friction between the females over Sebastian. The doting Violet and her son were inseparable until he suddenly, last summer, took up with the attractive niece to vacation in Europe. The effete cultured Sebastian “died” at the hands of hungry street urchins who ravaged and cannibalized him while he was with Cathy in Spain. —Ozus’ World Movie Reviews
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on February 11, 1909, Joseph Leo Mankiewicz first worked for the movies as a translator of intertitles, employed by Paramount in Berlin, the UFA’s American distributor at the time (1928). He became a dialoguist, then a screenwriter on numerous Paramount productions in Hollywood, most of them Jack Oakie vehicles. Still in his 20s, he produced first-class MGM films, including The Philadelphia Story (1940). Having left Metro after a dispute with studio chief Louis B. Mayer over Judy Garland, he then worked for Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century-Fox, producing The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), when Ernst Lubitsch’s illness first brought him to the director’s chair for Dragonwyck (1946). Mankiewicz directed 20 films in a 26-year period, successfully attempted every kind of movie from Shakespeare adaptation to western, from urban sociological drama to musical, from epic film with thousands of extras to a two-character picture. A Letter to Three Wives (1949… read more
You can tell the story was a little handicapped because of the censors but Suddenly, Last Summer is creepily captivating. I couldn't take my eyes off Elizabeth Taylor despite how silly and off the movie got towards the end. Great performances, too. I was unable to take my eyes off Elizabeth Taylor. I almost wish this was shot in color.