The reason I liked this was precisely because none of the characters were particularly likeable. The sticky Southern Gothic atmosphere and the sleaziness mixed with bizarre humour really make this a gem, that I'm surprised not more people know about. Has the typical Williams themes, but hasn't been compromised for Hollywood. All of the performances are amazing, but Wallach in particular is striking.
I'm told this screen adaptation differs greatly from Williams' original play, and that only goes to prove that Williams was, indeed, a great screenwriter as well, one that understood the medium and how to write for an audience. Elia Kazan directs it to perfection and Eli Wallach just knocks it out of the park.
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. The electricity bewteen Eli Wallach and Carroll Baker is fantastic; it's too bad she went into obscurity in the '60s and '70s when she started doing a bunch of crappy Italian giallos. Not only was she a tremendous actress, but she was uniquely beautiful.
It's basically "A Streetcar Named Desire" without the rape scene... or the likable characters. While it has its moments of great acting and direction, it stumbles due to poor source material centered around a group of rather amoral figures about whom we neither worry nor care.
I was watching it in a very defensive way, it's hard to go along with it. The acting looked very overreacted. Baker didn't sell a 19 year old to me, although she is laughing like a child all the time... I confess I was waiting for something else because it looked like a good idea.