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Monday, January 20, 2014

Liz and Monty On Cannibal Isle


Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) Sold With a Swimsuit

Like a long lie on a psychiatrist's couch, creepily enacted by starry cast: E. Taylor with health problems and a husband (Mike Todd) gone in a plane crash, K.Hepburn acting nuttily affected as I suspect she may have been offscreen, Albert Dekker representing normalcy, but think how he'd die a decade later, and then Montgomery Clift, who by all accounts barely got through this. Being a lifelong Clift booster, I find him a best thing about any picture he's in, Monty at quarter-speed still better than anyone else giving their all. It's said Clift had trouble with lines and struggled through them. His memory was shot, excess of drink/drugs doing Barrymoresque number on him. Still, he's worth the wait, maybe not to co-workers who suffered alongside, but certainly for us at objectivity's distance. Director Joe Mankiewicz had alleged devil's own time with his cast, and costs did a rocket. Adapted from Tennessee Williams, but this wouldn't please like Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, to which it was compared in hopeful ads.


'59 folk still weren't used to loss of looks Clift suffered in the car crash, fewer realizing how lucky he was just to be alive. Monty had developed this way of shrinking inside his clothes. Is the idea of him doing comedy even conceivable? Maybe he'd have had less problem if work weren't always so heavy and doom-laden. Suddenly, Last Summer has an autopsy feel, as would following year's The Misfits, also with Clift. For all of decline, he'd grace two more really good ones before a finish: Wild River and Freud. Suddenly, Last Summer was sold primarily on Elizabeth Taylor coming out of beach water in a sheer swim suit, her emergence not unlike Sophia Loren's in Boy On A Dolphin, a movie also revolved around iconic visual splash. A Suddenly, Last Summer letdown for those lured in was having to wait till almost an end for Liz to get wet. Must have been a trial after promise conveyed by the one-sheet. 

6 Comments:

Blogger KING OF JAZZ said...

Speaking of Clift dubiously doing comedy, the funniest thing heever did, in a manner of speaking, was Martin Short's killer impersonation of Clift many years ago. It might be on YouTube.

11:29 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

I remember that skit. It was hilarious.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

I first saw this in a grind house theater in Toronto that ran four or five films a day while many patrons in the back rows did everything but watch the movies. In other words, it was the worst possible place to see a movie. Nonetheless, it held me riveted. It remains a personal favorite.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Neely OHara said...

Love John Wayne's take on S.L.S. After lambasting it to columnists for it's degenerate content, he was asked if he'd actually seen it, to which the Duke replied, "No, and I'm not going to."

Outdone, perhaps, only by Ernest Borgnine's assessment of Brokeback Mountain, "If John Wayne was alive he'd be turning in his grave."

And no doubt clawing at the lid of his casket as well...

1:21 PM  
Blogger iarla said...

In all the memorial enthusiasm for Taylor not one obituary dared reveal the truth that she remained such a lousy actress for decades because she never bothered to train her voice beyond MGM elocution lessons. She forever sounded like a petulant debutante with nasal drip. She ruined a lot of great parts.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

To iarla: Yes. Thank you. Liz might have been a movie star but she was no actress.

9:44 PM  

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