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Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Elizabeth Taylor , Katharine Hepburn , Joseph L. Mankiewicz  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)

Price: $14.69 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift, Albert Dekker, Mercedes McCambridge
  • Directors: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Writers: Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams
  • Producers: Sam Spiegel
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Black & White, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Georgian, Chinese, Thai
  • Dubbed: Portuguese, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 15, 2000
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004TWZH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,211 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Suddenly, Last Summer" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Vintage Advertising
  • Photo Montage

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn each received 1960 Oscar(r) nominations for Best Actress in this gripping adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play. Beautiful Catherine Holly (Elizabeth Taylor) is committed to a mental institution after witnessing the horrible death of her cousin at the hands of cannibals. Catherine's aunt, Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn), tries to influence Dr. Cukrowicz(Montgomery Clift), a young neurosurgeon, to surgically end Catherine's haunting hallucinations. Byutilizing injections of sodium pentothal, Dr. Cukrowicz discovers that Catherine's delusions are, in fact, true. He then must confront Violet about her own involvement in her son's violent death.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
87 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Tennessee Williams SOUTHERN GOTH masterpiece a la dark black and white Hollywood film style with Joseph (All About Eve, Guys & Dolls) Mankiewicz at the director's helm and screenplay adapted by Gore Vidal.

Elizabeth Taylor plays beautiful and crazy Cathy and Mercedes McCambridge (the actress who provided the voice of the demon in The Exorcist) plays her protective mother. Katherine Hepburn is Auntie Venable and wants niece Cathy to have a lobotomy to help her forget what she witnessed in regards to her son and Cathy's cousin, Sebastian and his untimely & somewhat mysterious "death" involving Sebastian's sexual secrets...

This all happened in front of Cathy's young & virginal eyes, "Suddenly, Last Summer". Last summer, Cathy and Sebastian travelled to Europe on an extravagant, decadent & obviously quite hedonistic vacation. Mrs. Venable was already quite traumatized by a baby sea turtle massacre last summer on the Galapogos Islands and Kathy was raped that very summer but what happened to cousin Sebastian in Europe was something that completely broke Kathy's fragile mind.

Auntie Venable gets the help of Dr. Cukrowicz, played by Montgomery Clift to see if he can help poor Cathy out with a prescibed lobotomy and mainly to save the selfish & overbearing Mrs. Venable from having people know about her son's secrets that got him killed.

From the opening scene, the viewer is riveted to the screen and left wondering... wondering... WHAT really happened so suddenly, last summer? The film builds and builds into the last 20 minutes of this film where Taylor gives a tremendous soliliquy and overview of just what DID happen to poor Sebastian. The split-screen effect that is used in this ending scene is fabulous.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SOUTHERN GOTHIC HORROR.... November 16, 2002
Watered down film version of Tennesee Williams' stage play that contains one of the most horrific storylines brought to the screen at the time (1959). Katharine Hepburn is memorable as the very weird Mrs. Violet Venable, a wealthy New Orleanian matron who keeps a monstrous jungle of carnivorous plants on her patio grounds. She attempts to procure the services of a new young neuro-surgeon (Montgomery Clift) with a radically new method of lobotomy to lobotomize her supposedly mad niece Catherine (a stunning Elizabeth Taylor) to shut-up her ramblings about the death of Violets' son, Sebastian, who died a grotesque death "suddenly last summer". Of course, Catherine isn't mad but still in shock since she witnessed Sebastians' death. While showing her "garden" to the doctor, Mrs.Venable relates a morbid story of she and Sebastian witnessing baby turtles being devoured by sea birds as they scrambled for their lives to the ocean. This tale is allegorical to the way Sebastian died but Mrs.Venable is in extreme denial about the nature of his death and the twos' true relationship. The doctor begins interviewing Catherine and discovers the truth through the use of truth serum. Sebastian was a sexual predator who used his mother while they vacationed to attract young men and when Violet was no longer young or pretty enough he turned to Catherine. This leads to the horrible revelations about his death that Violet Venable is determined to stop Catherine from revealing---even if it means a lobotomy. This is amazing subject matter for the time and daringly brought to the screen. The film is somewhat stagily done but fascinating to watch thanks to the awesome performances of Hepburn and Taylor. Essential viewing for truly off-beat psycho-drama and what could be gotten away with in 1959 when handled properly. Give this one a good watching.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
This 1959 film starred both Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn. Each is a fine actress in her own right. But put them together, and the screen just sizzles. Each one has long monologues lasting for more than 15 minutes, but, because of their talents, I was riveted to my seat the entire time. Adapted from a play by Tennessee Williams who was joined by Gore Vidal in writing the screenplay, it's a strikingly weird story set in 1937 New Orleans and deals with the sensitive subjects of insanity, lobotomy and cannibalism.
When we consider that the film was released during a time of high censorship, we have to applaud the writing, which had to conform to the guidelines of the time. Perhaps for this reason though, some of the story is not quite crystal clear. But this doesn't matter, nor does it matter that the Southern accents seem either non-authentic or missing altogether. That's because of the strength of the performances. And not every detail has to always be tied up in a neat package. If you're looking for a lightweight, comfortable film, you won't find it here. Instead you'll find a disturbing controversial theme and some of the best on-screen performances by you'll ever see.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Suddenly, Last Summer is an excellent film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play of the same name. The cast couldn't be better: Katherine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor star in this horrifying drama. Although two hours long, you'll never stir once in your seat. The excellent dialogue holds your attention and the convincing acting is nothing short of stellar.

When the film begins, a wealthy middle aged widow named Violet Venable (Katherine Hepburn) still suffers the pain from the loss of her son Sebastian the previous summer. Although Violet wants to remember her son as a "chaste" man, her niece Cathy Holly (Elizabeth Taylor) unconsciously remembers the actual events that led to Sebastian's tragic and untimely death. Violet can't stand the fact that Cathy remembers just a bit too much about Sebastian, so she tries to bribe a doctor (Montgomery Clift) to lobotomize Catherine so that her son's memory will never be defiled.

It's a race against time as Dr. Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift) becomes intrigued by Catherine's story and unusual memory loss. The doctor is under intense pressure to lobotomize Cathy from both Violet Venable and his boss at the asylum where Catherine is being kept. However, Dr. Cukrowicz wants to see if Catherine can be made to tell the truth--and avoid a lobotomy at the last minute.

The plot moves along very well and certain images could scare sensitive people. Sebastian's garden is an eerie place that reflects superlative set design; and the split screen at the end when Cathy finally does remember exactly how Sebastian died will stay in your head for quite a while after you view this film.
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