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Label:
Name: TWILIGHT TIME
Number: TWILIGHT293-BR

SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER (1959) (BLU-RAY)
Starring:  Mercedes McCambridge, Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Katharine Hepburn , Albert Dekker, Gary Raymond
Directed By:  Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Composed By:  Malcolm Arnold, Buxton Orr

“Superbly adapted, with blistering performances from Taylor and Hepburn…with [Gore] Vidal adding extra venom to already high camp horror, but with a hothouse pleasure in eloquence.”
– Kim Newman, Empire

“An outrageous, melodramatic shocker…replete with enough imagery to sustain an American Lit seminar for months…It works.”
– Time Out London

Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs this 1959 adaptation by Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams of Williams’ provocative play, Suddenly, Last Summer. Elizabeth Taylor stars as a young woman who knows such terrible truths about the death of her cousin Sebastian that his mother (Katharine Hepburn) is determined to have her lobotomized; Montgomery Clift is the psychiatrist brought in to evaluate the lovely, profoundly disturbed patient. Both Taylor and Hepburn received Best Actress Oscar® nominations; the film, denounced as obscene, was a hit at the box office.

LANGUAGE: English
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1959 / B&W
114 MINUTES
NOT RATED

Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Original Theatrical Trailer

Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

  
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Posted by Mark Turner on October 3, 2017 1:17 PM
It’s sad to think that for most people the name Elizabeth Taylor draws up images of an overweight overly made up jewelry bedecked fading actress known more for her long time involvement with Richard Burton or that she was friends with Michael Jackson. Taylor was so much more than that. Tabloids seem to rule though so the rest is forgotten. Ignored is the fact she began as a child actress, that she moved on to leading lady roles in some classic films and that she displayed a great acting prowess in movies like WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLFE actually winning for that performance and that she was nominated 5 times winning twice. It’s easy to see why she would be nominated when watching this film.

The story opens in a New Orleans mental hospital trying to stay afloat and seeking funding. Their star attraction is a young psycho-surgical doctor named Dr. John Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift). Using new techniques he’s doing all he can for his patients, never rushing to use the methods he masters but trying to find other solutions when possible.

John is sent by hospital administrator Dr. Hockstader (Albert Dekker) to talk to wealthy Violet Venerable (Katherine Hepburn) about her niece Catherine Holly (Taylor). Catherine was there with Violet’s son Sebastian when he died and has since told a tale that Violet claims is mere babbling. She claims to want to help Catherine but in truth she wants her lobotomized in hopes of silencing her.

John doesn’t just randomly do the procedure though, instead trying to help his patients. Meeting with Catherine he hears her story and realizes that something is hidden in the deepest recesses of her mind that won’t come out and help her heal. His job remains throughout the film to help Catherine find out what it is that is causing her such mental trauma and at the same time why this news would cause Violet to want him to perform such an operation on the girl.

Based on the play by Tennessee Williams with a screenplay by Gore Vidal, the story is filled with references to a most controversial topics at the time, homosexuality. The inferences are there from the start so it shouldn’t be a spoiler to realize that Sebastian had something to hide that his domineering mother is unwilling to discuss or contemplate all the while knowing the truth. Catherine is a naïve character here never realizing quite what Sebastian is. It is her innocence and the determination of Violet to protect her own mental illusions that makes up the drama in the film.

The movie takes its time to unravel the story it tells and does so with skill. The performances on display show actors at the top of their game though much has been said about the problems faced by Clift while shooting. Having suffered an injury in a car wreck he was dependent on drugs and alcohol and was trying to get over that dependency. It was Taylor, the top box office star at the time, who wielded her power of popularity to force the studio to hire Clift, one of the many displays of compassion she showed people during her lifetime.

Both Hepburn and Taylor were nominated for their performances but both lost. The film was a financial hit at the time but now seems unknown to most. Offering a solid story that’s sad and hopefully it will be rediscovered on disc.

Twilight Time has done a great job of presenting this film in the most beautiful way imaginable. While a black and white film their handling of the presentation here offers the most crisp and clean looking copy I’ve ever seen, a 1080p hi def edition. Extras are limited to an isolated music and effects track and the original trailer. As always the disc is limited to just 3,000 copies so if interested by one today.

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