Tennessee Williams gives us a closeup view of family tensions in this controlled film of his play. Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman still in their 20s are beautiful to watch. Liz harangues less than in the written work and Paul is more personable. The no-neck monster children are every bit as annoying. Burl Ives is more avuncular and there is the scene in the basement filled with souveniers his wife has bought on their travels which is an addition to the play - perhaps just to give us all a break from the stifling atmosphere of the bedroom.
Brick and Maggie, though having come to some agreement which we can only guess is that brick will stay with her on the understanding that there is no sex, still have a closeness and there is a telling scene in which she hugs him and he nearly responds. His hands are about to hold her and then he holds off. He is also, at the end of the play, having confronted his 'demons', complicit in her lie about her pregnancy. We are left wondering about their relationship when they are not on view. Will he give up drinking? Will he inherit? Will she ever become pregnant.
As always TW dives into the heart of family life. He keeps the number of characters very small and exposes the underside of relationships. Yet it is not all bad - there is always some kindness, some love, even some joy.
Did we enjoy it - yes I think we all did - if only for the glory of Paul Newman from our and his youth. The colour was exceptionally good on the copy of the film - and it didnt feel 50 years old.
My copy of the play had been heavily annotated alonside TW's directing notes. It is amusing to see how film makers of the 50's, and indeed the 60s too, still felt it necessary to redo a character's hair midway through a scene, to give them clean clothes or as in Taylor's case remove her brastrap when she changes into her evening dress - one minute its there and the next its gone. The style of filming is in itself a window on the social mores of the times - the time of the making of the film rather than its setting.