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Catherine Holly
Mrs. Violet Venable
Dr. Cukrowicz
Dr. Hockstader
Mrs. Holly
George Holly
Miss Foxhill
Nurse Benson
Sister Felicity
Dr. Hockstader's Secretary
Young Blond Interne
A Patient


Screenplay by

Based on a short story by
Director of Photography
Production Supervisor
Production Design
Art Direction
Set Decorator
Editorial Consultant
Film Editing
Sound Recordists
Sound Editor
Musical Score

Assembly Editor
Costume Design
Costumer for Miss Taylor
Costumer for Miss Hepburn
Associate Costumer
Makeup Artist
Hair Stylist
Special Photographic Effects
Assistant Director
Camera Operator
Construction Manager

Elizabeth Taylor
Katharine Hepburn
Montgomery Clift
Albert Dekker
Mercedes McCambridge
Gary Raymond
Mavis Villiers
Patricia Marmont
Joan Young
Maria Britneva
Shelly Robbins
David Cameron
Robert Woolley


Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Sam Spiegel
Gore Vidal,
Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Jack Hildyard
Bill Kirby
Oliver Messel
William Kellner
Scott Slimon
William W. Hornbeck
Thomas G. Standford
A.G. Ambler,
John Cox
Peter Thornton Buxton Orr,
Malcolm Arnold
John Jympson
Oliver Messel
Jean Louis
Norman Hartnell
Joan Ellacott
David Aylott
Joan White
Tom Howard
Bluey Hill
Gerry Fisher
Dewey Dukelow
Elaine Shreyeck


Film data

A Horizon (G.B.) Limited Production in association with Academy Pictures and Camp Films
A Columbia Pictures Release
114 minutes
Produced: May-August 1959
Filmed at Shepperton Studios - Shepperton Surrey - England - UK
and in Spain

Premiere: December 22, 1959


In North Africa, Sebastian Venable, a rich and cosseted American poet, dies suddenly during the summer. The death certificate declares it a heart attack, but mentions that the body 'was somewhat damaged.' Catherine Holly, the poet's beauteous cousin, who was with him at the time, babbles about 'dreadful things,' but she is incoherent and unclear. Her aunt, Mrs. Violet Venable - determined to protect her son's reputation at any cost - has her committed to an insane asylum and demands that she be given a lobotomy, which may turn her into an imbecile, but will end her ravings about Sebastian's life - and death.


Critics' reviews

Paul V. Beckley - The New York Herald Tribune - 1959
"Katharine Hepburn's role is one that even in its evil has a perverted charm. As to (her) performance, it is splendid, as one might expect. Words in this film are dominant, not merely one tool but the adze with which the mood, the action, and the characterization are shaped. One can relish the exquisite way in which Miss Hepburn reads them, but one cannot forget that it is the word, not her actions, that makes the film."

Dave Kehr - Chicago Reader
"Joseph L. Mankiewicz flirts with camp in his 1959 adaptation of Tennessee Williams's sweaty gothic study, with Katharine Hepburn as a production-line southern dowager brooding over the blossoming relationship between her brain-damaged daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) [webmasters note: not her daughter but her niece] and her doctor (Montgomery Clift). The cast packs enough sexual ambiguity to satisfy the most rabid Williams fan (not to mention a screenplay by Gore Vidal), but Mankiewicz leaves much of the innuendo unexplored - thankfully, perhaps."

Jennifer Selway - Time Out
"From a Tennessee Williams play, an outrageous, melodramatic shocker touching on madness, homosexual prostitution, incest, disease and cannibalism, replete with enough imagery to sustain an American Lit seminar for months. On film, with Taylor as the woman who saw something nasty and Clift as the psychiatrist trying to probe her trauma, the one-act material is stretched perilously thin; but it works for Hepburn as the incarnation of civilized depravity, the matriarch trying to keep the lid on things by persuading Clift to lobotomize her niece (Taylor, whose performance suggests that surgery has already taken place)."

What Kate had to say

Katharine Hepburn - Kate Remembered - 2003
"I felt Tennessee Williams was the greatest living playwright at the time, brilliant and full of poetry. And I knew it would be a challenge to perform many of his speeches. But I thought he was a truly tragic figure, and this play showed it."

Katharine Hepburn - Kate Remembered - 2003
"The entire production was a nightmare from day one. Clift had recently been in a car accident that had slightly disfigured his beautiful looks; he was on pain medication and was 'a psychological basket case.'"

Katharine Hepburn - Kate Remembered - 2003
"Joe Mank had nothing to offer me in the way of direction, and he spent most of his time with Monty and Elizabeth, and not in a way I felt was productive. He was absolutely cruel to Monty ? tormenting him when he was clearly having a hard time. And rather than try to help him, he just kept beating him down."

What fellow actors, the director and friends had to say

Joseph L. Mankiewicz
"She felt I was being brutal to Montgomery Clift, but we had a real problem making the picture work, he was always late - it was horrible. Finally, on the last day of shooting, Kate came up to me, looked me hard in the eye, and spat. On the floor. Then she went into Sam Spiegel's office and spat on his floor. She never worked with either of us again."

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