Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a 1958 American drama film directed by Richard Brooks. It is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Tennessee Williams adapted by Richard Brooks and James Poe. One of the top-ten box office hits of 1958, the film stars Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Burl Ives.
Late one night, a drunken Brick Pollitt (Paul Newman) is out trying to recapture his glory days of high school sports by leaping hurdles on a track field, dreaming about his moments as a youthful athlete. Unexpectedly, he falls and breaks his leg, leaving him dependent on a crutch. Brick, along with his wife, Maggie “the Cat” (Elizabeth Taylor), are seen the next day visiting his family’s estate in Mississippi, there to celebrate Big Daddy’s (Burl Ives) 65th birthday.
Depressed, Brick decides to spend his days drinking while resisting the affections of his wife, who taunts him about the inheritance of Big Daddy’s wealth. Numerous allusions are made to their tempestuous marriage – there are speculations as to why Maggie does not yet have children while Brick’s brother Gooper (Jack Carson) and his wife Mae (Madeleine Sherwood) have a whole clan, many of whom run around the “plantation” (as Big Daddy’s estate is called) unsupervised and singing obnoxiously.
Big Daddy and Big Mama (Judith Anderson) arrive home from the hospital via their private airplane and are greeted by Gooper and his wife, along with Maggie. Despite the efforts of Mae, Gooper and their kids to draw his attention to them, Big Daddy has eyes only for Maggie. The news is that Big Daddy is not dying from cancer. However, the doctor later meets privately with first Gooper and then Brick where he divulges that it is a deception. Big Daddy has inoperable cancer and will likely be dead within a year, and the truth is being kept from him. Maggie wants Brick to take an interest in his father’s wealth as well as health, but Brick stubbornly refuses.
Directed by: Richard Brooks
Starring: Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Burl Ives, Jack Carson, Judith Anderson
Screenplay by: Richard Brooks, James Poe
Cinematography by: William Daniels
Film Editing by: Ferris Webster
Studio: Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Release Date: September 20, 1958