Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the story of Maggie (Liz Taylor) and Brick (Paul Newman) - a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. The husband has a preconceived notion of what transpired between his wife and his close friend and since the time of the incident he has refused to forget or forgive the incident. The wife on the other hand tries and tries hard to explain and win the affection of her husband back but its all in vain.
The story unfolds on the night Brick's father Big Daddy returns home from the hospital with the good news that he has recovered from what was considered to a fatal breakdown for Big Daddy (Paul Ives). But even amidst the happy dinner on the occasion of Big Daddy's return, Maggie and Brick still can't put aside their differences. In fact, they escalate.
Adapted from a Tennessee Williams play, the film has all the trappings of a family drama. Sensitive elders, bickering daughters-in-law and the stereotypical sons - one a good-for-nothing drunkard and the other doing well for himself. Yet what works for the film is the relentlessly devoted character of Maggie who just wants the love of her husband back. Even as the plot unfolds and secrets spill one identifies with Maggie's pursuit because one sees that the love she has for Brick is limitless. Paul Newman in his first Oscar-nominated role does enough to convey the drunk loser he is meant to be though his act in The Verdict was far better. While the story veers around the family, the film is all about two strong points of view led by Paul and Liz and it is their story that has us rapt with attention. Paul Ives turns in a strong support act without being melodramatic at any point.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof felt like it needed to watched more to be fully appreciated. With its serious undertones of fidelity and father-son relationships, it is a film that isn't the easiest to get through. And while the film might be a bit anachronistic if released today, Newman and Taylor ensure that it becomes memorable for anyone who puts in the 108 minutes of the runtime of the film. This is vintage acting wrapped in a good story with a nifty climax for you to savor. No complaints !