Can’t get enough of those poetically lurid southern gothic plots, those kooky women and bitter, washed-up men, and all the booze and drugs that keep them separated — or do I mean together? Let’s face it, his films are great fun, but not all have worked that well. Sweet Bird of Youth is a classic. His contribution to Senso is palpable. Suddenly Last Summer… not so much; it’s both overwrought and damnably unspecific (they kept the censors busy, though). Liz Taylor is not my idea of a great Williams actress; too classy. Dorothy Malone would have made an awesome Maggie the Cat. I’ve never seen The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. Anyway, what are your favorites?
A Streetcar Named Desire without a doubt.
The Rose Tattoo with the great Anna Magnani is a really good film I think. The best Williams is elevated by performers, the stage being the best of the actors mediums (film is a directors medium and TV a writers generally) so it’s no surprise that those great words can live or die with the performers ability. And Streetcar is the peak, all the performers are top notch and Brando defined an era.
I forgot The Rose Tattoo — good call Musycks.
“The Fugitive Kind” is teriffic
Who directed/starred in The Fugitive Kind?
Justin-Sidney Lumet directed. Marlon Brando and Joanne Woodward starred.
I always liked Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Sweet Bird of Youth mainly for Paul Newman’s performances.
Newman was a better Williams actor than Brando, imo. If James Dean had gotten to sink his hooks into some of those roles, that might have been perfect. thanks Steve. I still would have rather seen Dorothy Malone as Maggie.
I recall Baby Doll being fantastic
Besides those already mentioned, I would add Glass Menagerie and Night of the Iguana. He had the odd miss along the way, such as his last Burton/Taylor collaboration – Boom! Even this film is interesting to see, as are all the films from his writings, because it shows he was still experimenting right up ‘til the end. He gave us storylines with heart and drama and characters with passion and vitality. With those other 20th Century American greats – O’Neill and Albee, he gave us plays, transformed into screenplays, that are a testament to the human spirit. I think Night of the Iguana, The Fugitve Kind, and Streetcar are my favourites. Night of the Iguana, I believe, comes closest to the essence of a Williams type treatment, especially with the poem of the grandfather that encapsulates all the best of his themes.
i thought fugitive kind was pretty weak. some good dialogue, but for some reason i wasn’t very engaged
Night of the Iguana by John Huston
I’ve always had mixed feelings about THE FUGITIVE KIND. Williams had a hand in the screenplay, and the film feels more stage-play than movie, its central set the Torrance department store, where Brando, as Valentino “Snakeskin” Xavier (!!) arrives with his guitar (autographed by Leadbelly) to clerk and to woo and be wooed by Lady Torrance (Magnani). Brando and Magnani are fine together, within the confines of the script. In an upstairs bedroom hovers evil, Jabe Torrance (Victory Jory), just home from the hospital, sweating and cancer-ridden. Arriving in a beat-up Jaguar is a beat-up Carol Cutrere (Joanne Woodward), who also wants a piece of Snakeskin. Woodward is a bit of a ham in this. There are very few surprises (a little surprising that Lady had not long ago connected the murder-by-fire of her father with Jabe and his buddies — “the vigilantes,” read the Klan). It will all end obviously and badly for Lady and for Val. And a touch of hocus-pocus in the postscript when Woodward wanders about dressed like an ancient Egyptian and trades a ring for Val’s snakeskin jacket, now in the possession of Uncle Pleasant, the mystical blackman (and the only black face we encounter in this ugly little Mississippi town).
On the extreme other hand is BABY FACE. I watched it again last year. A good yarn from Williams, and a fine and witty script which he helped flesh out. And memorable performances by all. Carroll Baker in her first role as the virgin wife is more than remarkable. Eli Wallach was never better. Even the earnest over-actor, Karl Malden, is perfectly cast here as Archie, the bumbling, raging cuckold. The film is a pearl.
I always thought IGUANA was a little overcooked, but I love it anyway, for Ava Gardner’s sexually unbound Maxine. The script tries to rob her of these qualities as the movie crawls along, but she refuses to let this happen. Richard Burton is fair as the boozy defrocked minster. But I’ll watch it again, just to revisit Maxine in that crumbling Mexican hotel of hers.
One of “his” least seen movies is This Property Is Condemned, among the best Pollacks. LOVELY.
I agree with Steve.
I’m a big fan of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof because of Paul Newman. I love it when Williams’ stuff creates a genuinely southern feel.
Watching these characters from films based on Tennesse Williams’ work makes one wonder – “What the hell’s the matter with these folks?” Well, that’s recipe for good drama. My favourites-
THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED – great Pollack film, Natalie Wood was stunning, but that mother…
NIGHT OF THE IGUANA
BABY DOLL – Guilty pleasure. Kazan really milked this one good. I love ‘em hilarious dialogues, like Eli Wallach’s “Your husband sweats more than any man I know, and now I can understand why.”
LAST OF THE MOBILE HOTSHOTS – All my friends hated this movie. I only saw this once, caught it on cable one night and kinda like it. Two people get married on tv. No way that’s gonna happen in real life…
Au hasard Balthazar
Fugitive Kind sounds like an influence on Wild at Heart – snakeskin jacket et al.
Samo – Au hasard Balthasar? Please explain.
personal five favorites
The Night of the Iguana
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
A Streetcar Named Desire
Suddenly, Last Summer
>THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED – great Pollack film, Natalie Wood was stunning, but that mother…
Be my friend! :D
The only problem with THE ROSE TATTOO is Burt Lancaster’s appalling performance. Really dreadful, he overplays it so dreadfully that the character starts to seem mentally deficient.
The best Williams-based film for me is STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Yeah, the ending is a bit of a compromise, but the rest of the film works so beautifully that the ending doesn’t ruin everything.
There’s a very good version of SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER starring Maggie Smith, Natasha Richardson, RIchard E. Grant and Rob Lowe, believe it or not. It was made for British TV, and makes the Mankiewicz film seem pale in comparison. It sticks more closely to the play, and doesn’t have the unfortunate censor-related issues. Seek it out, I think Netflix has it.
Well, the play itself of Suddenly Last Summer was a victim of censorship. Williams had to think of how many creative ways he could talk about Sebastian Venable without ever using the word “gay.”
Roscoe: You are dead-on about Lancaster in TATTOO. He cuts a fairly ridiculous figure here, an over-the-top clown, the only saving grace, that he doesn’t show-up until the middle of the film.
Magnani won the Academy Award for this, as did the art director (for “best black and white”) and the cinematographer. It was also nominated for best picture, and Pavan for best supporting actress. But this little melodrama, without Magnani, could never have gotten off the ground, and it never flew very high. Not Williams at his best.