Tennesee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is a powerful play and here has been made into a powerful film. Family ties, lies, power, money, death, sexual troubles and even sibling rivalry coalesce as the troubled Pollitt family deals with the terminal illness of its patriarch. Although the gay subtext has been muted to fit 1950's sensitibilities, it's still there, adding resonance to the film. There's a bit of the mannered approach common to movies of the period, which gives the film a more theatrical feel than many movie adaptations of plays. In some ways, "Cat" comes across as an early, Southern version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf."
The acting in this film is superb, if a little over-the-top at times. "Maggie the Cat" is a plum dramatic role, and Elizabeth Taylor more than does it justice. In her hands, Maggie's basic humanity alternates with her greed to eventually define her. Paul Newman likewise turns in an excellent performance as the troubled Brick. Burl Ives steals the show as Big Daddy, the larger-than-life dying patriarch. Jack Carson and Madelaine Sherwood play the elder, less-favored son and his fecund wife, Mae. Mae and her brood are played as wonderfully grotesque charicatures, greatly enhancing the oppressive atmosphere of the film. If you think of Diane Arbus shooting a movie, you'll get an excellent idea of what Mae and her little "no-neck monsters" are like.