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CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF ($25) is probably one of the best adaptations of a Tennessee Williams’ play made under other constraints of Hollywood censorship. The story has been whitewashed because Hollywood censors wouldn't allow the adult themes and language contained in Williams’ original text to be presented on film during the 1950’s. Williams’ play dealt with the latent homosexuality of a central character, which couldn’t be depicted on film. Because of censorship, homosexuality couldn't even be mentioned in the film version of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, although allusions to it still remain.

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF remains a powerful film because of the electrifying performances of Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Burl Ives. The plot of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF concerns a dysfunctional Southern family in crisis. The family gathers on the rich patriarch’s 65th birthday knowing that it will be his last. The eldest son and his manipulative wife make a grab for the lion share of the estate, while the alcoholic "favorite son" undergoes his own personal crisis. Newman portrays Brick, the former football star who drinks because he can’t deal with the death of his best friend Skipper. Elizabeth Taylor is perfect in the role of Brick’s wife, "Maggie the cat", whom he blames for Skipper’s death. She loves her husband, despite his disgust with life and his disgust with her. She is his steadfast protector, who hopes to win back his love, and stands up for him when his own brother tries to make a play for control of the estate. Burl Ives gives the best known performance of his career as "Big Daddy", the dying patriarch. The film comes to a climax when father and son square off, forcing father to face up to death and son to face up to life. The top notch cast of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF also features Judith Anderson, Jack Carson, Madeleine Sherwood, Larry Gates and Vaughn Taylor.

MGM Home Entertainment offers CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF in both 16:9 enhanced wide screen and pan and scan transfers. CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF was produced with a hard matte in the camera; therefore, the pan and scan transfer crops the image somewhat. The cropped transfer is a bit softer and grainier than the wide screen transfer, but does feature reasonably good color. On the other hand, the wide screen transfer is magnificent. This is without question the finest presentation of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF that one is likely to encounter on NTSC video. The image is crystal clear and the colors are richer and better saturated than any MetroColor film that I can remember from this period. This transfer is certainly a credit to William H. Daniels’ Academy Award nominated cinematography. MGM deserves a rousing cheer for this presentation. Digital compression artifacts were virtually absent from the Letterboxed and pan and scan versions.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is very clean and crisp sounding; it will take a fair amount of amplification without a problem. Other soundtrack options include a French language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish. The interactive menus offer access to an original theatrical trailer, as well as the standard scene selection feature.

All in all, MGM Home Entertainment has done a fine job with their DVD edition of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. The Letterboxed transfer is reason alone for acquiring this DVD. Highly recommended!


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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