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Tea and Sympathy [VHS]

4.2 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews


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Product Details

  • Actors: Deborah Kerr, John Kerr, Leif Erickson, Edward Andrews, Darryl Hickman
  • Directors: Vincente Minnelli
  • Writers: Robert Anderson
  • Producers: Pandro S. Berman
  • Format: Closed-captioned, NTSC, Color, HiFi Sound
  • Language: English
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Warner)
  • VHS Release Date: September 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301978749
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,737 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Tom Lee is a sensitive boy of 17 whose lack of interest in the "manly" pursuits of sports, mountain climbing and girls labels him "sister-boy" at the college he is attending. Head master Bill Reynold's wife Laura sees Tom's suffering at the hands of his school mates (and her husband), and tries to help him find himself.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
When MGM released its film version of the award-winning Broadway drama TEA AND SYMPATHY in 1956, the movie was seen as a fairly bold look at a controversial issue: how much non-conformity will society tolerate? Particularly when the expression of that non-conformity goes against acceptable standards of masculine behavior?
TEA AND SYMPATHY is the story of Tom Lee, a young student at a boys' prep school. Tom is a loner, interested in music and literature, shy around women, and not much interested in conventional "masculine" pursuits. As a result, he is cruelly taunted by his classmates and the headmaster of his dormitory. The headmaster's wife, Laura, becomes determined to help Tom, in part due to memories of her own "unmasucline" first husband. Her efforts lead to conflict in her present marriage and to a final, dramatic act intended to save Tom from despair.
TEA AND SYMPATHY's author, Robert Anderson, said that the work is not really about homosexuality but about our society's tendency to exclude and persecute those who are different for whatever reason (a pertinent topic during the hysterical, "anti-Red" McCarthy era). Still, it is Tom's lack of "conspicuous" masculinity, his presumed homosexuality, that is the reason why he is treated so cruelly, and the play's and film's use of this subject matter made it highly controversial.
Is TEA AND SYMPATHY dated today? Perhaps. The film's performances are uneven--Deborah Kerr gives a lovely, sympathetic performance as Laura; John Kerr as Tom is good although a bit stiff and somewhat too old for his role; Leif Erickson as the headmaster is bombastic and overstated. The script contains a few lines that are unintentionally funny.
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1 Comment 79 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
Rarely will you find a movie like this one which addresses the issue of stereotyping and making false assumptions about people in ways which can profoundly hurt them. The prep school boys in this drama, as well as some of their parents, are so concerned about their own masculinity--as is the boys' houseparent (Erickson) about his own--that they cannot comfortably face having a classmate ("Tom") who seems at all different. One or two small incidents suddenly take on special significance only because of the reactions of a few of the boys and even their fathers. It soon becomes obvious that there isn't a single boy or adult male who could not have had the same challenge made about his own "masculinity," if others had taken up the cause. From the start of the play, we can tell that Tom has special feelings for houseparent Laura (Deborah Kerr), who has been instructed by her husband (Erickson) to give the boys in their house "tea and sympathy." She is happy to do this, although already her new marriage is showing strain as she tries to understand why her husband seems to prefer spending every spare hour at school sporting events or taking groups of the prep school boys on rugged, outdoor excursions. His intolerance of Tom's preference for music and less muddy pursuits leads him to drop hints which serve to encourage the jibes of Tom's classmates,--and even Tom's father. As Laura sees this happening, she befriends Tom and tries to give him courage to face the hazing he experiences. Even so, Tom begins to crack under the pressure, and he tries a rash solution which backfires and only makes his self-doubts worse. This sets the stage for one of the most sensitive scenes ever filmed. For everyone who has ever felt the sting of unjust labeling, this is a masterpiece with tremendous potential for opening dialogues with teens--or adults.
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By A Customer on February 5, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This is a touching film about a young man at college who is a sensitive male and doesn't quite fit in with the regular males (this is the 1950's mind you). He likes to hang around with the women, likes to listen to classical music, and even takes a role in a play portraying a woman, which his father almost disowns him for. He also knows how to sew, but in regards to what one of the reviews said below, none of these attributes mean he's a gay man. He's just a sensitive kind of guy. John Kerr gives a fine performance as the young man. Deborah Kerr (no relation I understand) is the woman who tries not to become attached to this student, but eventually gives in (I won't spoil the ending).
I find myself watching this movie every time it airs on television and each time I feel I come away learning something new from it. I highly recommend buying the video.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Laura Reynolds (Deborah Kerr) is the lonely and frustrated wife of a prep school master; she feels a bond with Tom (John Kerr), a likewise lonely seventeen-year old who lives in her house. He is taunted by his classmates as well as his father because he isn't into the usual he-man things like girls and sports. Laura offers him tea and sympathy, and, in the end, a lot more in an effort to boost his confidence.

At 25, John Kerr looks way too old to play Tom, but he's so ernest and pitiable that we can overlook that flaw. Deborah Kerr gives a stunning performance in a role that could have been sleezy in less delicate hands. A film showing a woman crossing all boundaries of propriety with a child was, no doubt, quite controversial in its time; now it is less shocking, more of a tender cautionary tale of two unhappy people who reach out to each other. It captures the heartache of being different and is quite a lovely movie.
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