Paul Newman x 2 for Valentine’s Day! First, Newman plays drunk, dissolute Brick, husband to sultry Maggie the Cat (Elizabeth Taylor), in director Richard Brooks’s lively adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, co-starring a torrential Burl Ives as cancer-stricken patriarch Big Daddy. Then, Newman swaggers into town as a roughneck drifter who makes an unlikely match for the wholesome daughter (Joanne Woodward, Newman’s future wife) of a Mississippi bigwig (Orson Welles). Lee Remick and Angela Lansbury co-star in Martin Ritt’s sumptuous CinemaScope take on stories by William Faulkner.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Richard Brooks | 1958 | 108 minutes | USA
In director Richard Brooks’s lively adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, Newman plays drunken, dissolute, and sometimes shirtless ex-athlete Brick, the tormented husband to sultry Maggie the Cat (Elizabeth Taylor). Burl Ives powerfully reprises his role in the Broadway production as cancer-stricken patriarch Big Daddy, whose mortality looms over Brick. Although Williams and Newman both objected to script changes imposed by the Production Code, including the removal of all mentions of homosexuality, Cat ranked among the year’s top box-office attractions and earned the film six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Newman), and Best Actress (Taylor).
The Long, Hot Summer
Martin Ritt | 1958 | 115 minutes | USA
“You got some foolish ideas about me, Mr. Quick. I am no trembling little rabbit full of smoldering unsatisfied desires.”
Charming drifter Ben Quick (Paul Newman) swaggers into the Mississippi town of Frenchman’s Bend, dogged by stories of arson, but the ascendant roughneck soon makes an unlikely match for schoolteacher Clara (Joanne Woodward), wholesome daughter of local bigwig Will Varner (Orson Welles in full growl). Newman and Woodward spar with verve (they married shortly after the shoot) in Martin Ritt’s sumptuous CinemaScope take on William Faulkner, which preceded Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. With Lee Remick as Clara’s smoking sister Eula and Angela Lansbury as Varner’s mistress.