Suddenly, Last Summer

Sep 10, 2016

(Joseph L. Mankiewicz, US, 1959, 35mm, 114 min)

Based on Garden District, the one-act play by Tennessee Williams, Suddenly, Last Summer brings together Hollywood powerhouses Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift in this American Southern Gothic tale. Set in New Orleans in 1937, the matriarch of a wealthy family, Violet Venable (Hepburn), is determined to bury the facts about her dead son, Sebastian. However, her niece Catherine (Taylor) who witnessed Sebastian’s death during their summer travels in Spain, has been left emotionally disturbed by the incident and won’t stop talking about it. In order to repress the family secret for good, Violet attempts to coerce a young surgeon (Clift) to lobotomize Catherine and silence her “obscene babbling” about what happened last summer. Penned for the screen by Gore Vidal, this dark and twisted study peers into mid-century societal attitudes towards sexuality, explores class, power and Oedipal Mother-Son dynamics -- all potently charged with psychoanalytic overtones of the day.
“Sebastian Venable was the perfect homosexual for his times, one without a face or a voice. Since he lives as a monster, he must die as one.” -- Lily Tomlin, narration from The Celluloid Closet, 1995, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

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