DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Richard Brooks
Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, Jack Carson, Judith Anderson, Madeleine Sherwood, Larry Gates, Vaughn Taylor
Writing Credits:
Richard Brooks, James Poe, Tennessee Williams (play, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof")

Alcoholic ex-football player Brick drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife Maggie. His reunion with father Big Daddy - who is dying of cancer - jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.

Box Office:
$3 million.
Domestic Gross
$17.570 million.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
French Monaural
German Monaural
Castillian Monaural
Latin Spanish Monaural
Czech Monaural
Polish Monaural
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 8/9/2016

• Audio Commentary with Biographer Donald Spoto
• “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Playing Cat and Mouse” Featurette
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Cat On A Hot Tin Roof [Blu-Ray] (1958)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 17, 2006)

For sheer movie star power, you’ll find it hard to top Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. Not only are they two of the biggest stars ever to come out of Hollywood, but also they remain a pair of the greatest sex symbols as well. And have any other actors displayed such gorgeous eyes?

Only once did Newman and Taylor appear on screen together: in the 1958 film version of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The flick focuses on the strained relationship between Brick (Newman) and Maggie (Taylor). Former sports star turned alcoholic Brick maintains a very aloof attitude toward Maggie in apparent punishment for an unspecified prior misdeed. She begs him to interact like they did in the old days, but Brick remains indifferent to her needs even though they’ve been married for only three years.

Into this setting steps Brick’s wealthy father Big Daddy (Burl Ives). All suspect he doesn’t have long to live, so a battle wages among Brick’s extended family to stake a claim to his wealth. Big Daddy comes to town for his birthday celebration and various conflicts ensue.

What Cat lacks in plot, it more than compensates with strong characters and situations. To be sure, you won’t find much of a story here. The movie uses the framework of Big Daddy’s birthday for its scenario but doesn’t attempt anything beyond that.

And this is perfectly fine with me. Cat could – and probably should – fall apart due to the potentially ridiculous nature of its events. So many direct confrontations and revelations emerge in this brief event that it seems rather absurd. Brick and Maggie, Brick and Big Daddy, Big Daddy and Big Mama… and the list goes on - all with the terminally ill patriach’s fortune in the balance. What kind of nutty birthday party is this, anyway?

Despite the over the top nature of the situations, Cat succeeds. All the twists, turns and revelations create fireworks, not inane melodrama. The movie shows its origins as a stage production – the characters are wont to stop the action for theatrical monologues – but it keeps us riveted with its events. It’s fascinating to watch it all unfold and allow us to catch up with all the characters’ years of problems.

To be sure, the excellent cast helps. Taylor offers the most overtly theatrical performance of the bunch in a turn that mildly evokes Vivian Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire. That doesn’t make her work problematic, though, and she presents enough fire and energy to make the role fly.

I like Newman and especially Ives best, though. For those of us who grew up with Ives as a jolly snowman in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, his turn as the overbearing and borderline sadistic Big Daddy becomes a revelation. He digs into all elements of the part with gusto, and his interactions with Newman prove especially intense. Those turn into the movie’s highlights.

I’d classify Streetcar as the superior movie based on a Williams play, but Cat is no slouch on its own. The film maintains enough of its theatrical roots to maintain a connection, but it thrives on its own as well. This is a fascinating character study.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Cat On a Hot Tin Roof appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Warner Archives usually does excellent work, and this became another winner from them.

For the most part, sharpness was fine. Occasional examples of softness occurred, but those stemmed from the source. The majority of the flick displayed more than adequate definition.

I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement remained absent. Source concerns also failed to materialize, so this became a clean presentation.

Colors seemed appropriate. The movie favored a somewhat pale palette at times, but it perked up when appropriate, so I thought the hues worked well. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows looked clear and smooth. The transfer held up well.

I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The mix didn’t excel, but it was more than acceptable given its age. Speech consistently seemed natural and concise, and the lines betrayed no edginess or other problems.

Music tended to be a little thin but seemed acceptably vivid and bright. Effects were clean and demonstrated reasonable range, especially in the boom of thunder. I didn’t find anything here to applaud, but I liked what I heard nonetheless.

How did the Blu-ray compare with the DVD from 2006? Audio was a little stronger, but the limitations of the 58-year-old source limited improvements.

Visuals showed more obvious pleasures. The Blu-ray offered stronger colors, sharpness and cleanliness. While the DVD was good, the Blu-ray beat it.

The Blu-ray replicates the DVD’s extras. The main attraction comes from an audio commentary with biographer Donald Spoto. He offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Although Spoto touches on a few production elements, he prefers to investigate other subjects. On occasion, he talks about the cast and other participants, censorship issues, and comparisons between the film and the play.

However, most of Spoto’s chat deals with more introspective topics. Spoto digs into themes and interpretation of the movie’s story, situations and characters. He does so fairly well, though at times he seems to simply narrate the action.

Spoto also goes silent too often, and this leaves the commentary with a fair amount of dead air; this becomes a particular problem during its second half. I admit that I’d have preferred a more nuts and bolts Rudy Behlmer-style commentary, but I think Spoto makes this a generally intriguing and informative piece.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we locate a featurette entitled Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Playing Cat and Mouse. This 10-minute, three-second piece includes archival materials, shots from the flick, and remarks from Spoto, authors Drew Casper and Eric Lax, and actor Madeleine Sherwood.

“Mouse” looks at the production with a particular emphasis on actors Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. It discusses their careers prior to Roof and see how that film impacted on their lives and careers. “Mouse” doesn’t serve as a strong overview of the production, but it accomplishes its goals. It serves to educate us about complications behind the scenes with the main actors and works well in that regard.

Those actors help make Cat on a Hot Tin Roof a success. The film boasts consistently excellent performances and becomes a rich, involving character piece. The Blu-ray provides very good picture as well as more than acceptable audio and a couple of bonus features. This turns into a solid release for a compelling film.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main