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Tennessee Williams Film Collection (A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 Two-Disc Special Edition / Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958 Deluxe Edition / Sweet Bird of Youth / The Night of the Iguana / Baby Doll / The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone)
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Kazan also directed Baby Doll, which Williams scripted from a couple of one-act plays. This outrageous sex comedy casts the excellent Carroll Baker as the 19-year-old wife of middle-aged Karl Malden, who anxiously awaits the day he can finally consummate his maddening marriage; immigrant cotton magnate Eli Wallach shows up at Malden's crumbling plantation house just in time to take the bloom off the rose, as it were. Famous for being condemned in 1956, Baby Doll remains a very modern (and gloriously dirty) movie. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Richard Brooks, faithfully brings three of Williams's indelible characters to the screen, even if the script discreetly changes the original stage text: the hot Maggie the Cat (Elizabeth Taylor), her reluctant husband Brick (Paul Newman), and Brick's rich Big Daddy (Burl Ives). All three performers act the lights out.
Sweet Bird of Youth reunites Paul Newman with director Brooks, and also showcases Geraldine Page's performance as an aging film star tagging along with young stud Newman to his Southern home town. Some of Williams' more depraved touches are toned down, but the milieu is unmistakable and the movie is intense. The Night of the Iguana gives Richard Burton perhaps his finest hour onscreen: as Williams' dissolute defrocked priest, playing tour guide in Puerto Vallarta to tour groups of nattering biddies. The movie has director John Huston's sympathy for life's losers, as well as a trio of women built to torment Burton's reverend: Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, and Sue Lyon. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, based on Williams's novel, is not a great movie, but gives Vivien Leigh a good workout as a wounded actress dallying with Italian gigolo Warren Beatty.
Tennessee Williams' South is a 1973 documentary featuring some marvelous observations from Williams, as he holds court for filmmaker Harry Rasky. It also has long scenes from his plays, enacted by good folks such as Maureen Stapleton, Colleen Dewhurst, and Burl Ives. Especially valuable is a Streetcar sequence with Jessica Tandy re-creating her original role as Blanche. Williams himself reads the narration from The Glass Menagerie, a privileged moment. This is not an exhaustive Williams set (Joseph Mankiewicz's Suddenly, Last Summer and Sidney Lumet's The Fugitive Kind are among the best Williams films), but it maps out the steamy, tortured landscape awfully well. --Robert Horton
Top Customer Reviews
first..let me say the bonus DVD "Tennesse Williams South"...is exceptional..its a film made about and with him in 1974 and besides his own readings of his work , which are illuminating, it features legends like Burl Ives and Jessica Tandy re-creating his dialog..simply timeless!
now..onto the Discs/Movies
the bonus featurettes are all very well done however, seemingly shorter than they should/could be. By that I mean...they have current interviews with Karl Malden and Eli Wallach for BABYDOLL and Rip Torn for Sweet Bird of Youth and the ever beautiful Jill St John for The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, and yet the amount of face time these actual stars of the films in question get is barely a line here or there? Not that the featurettes aren't good...they are..it just seems they could be a could 10minutes longer each...
now...the opposite problem is in the second disc of Streetcar Named Desire....the feature length (90min) Elia Kazan: A directors Journey is wonderful..its a decade or so old but was done while he was still with us and his participation raised it above the level of talking heads documentaries of the day. The strange thing is that the new featurettes on this disc feature way too much culled from the aforementioned feature. I don't understand....WB has wonderful featurettes on all the movies that seem truncated and then BLOATS out the Streetcar featurettes with duplicate material from itself? Only the current footage of Karl Malden saves the Streetcar featurettes from their own plagerism.
Now..the films themselves are all in very good shape considering they go back half a century. I wasn't a particular fan of Tennesse Williams..Read more ›
A feral, smoldering Marlon Brando justifiably made his reputation as brutish Stanley Kowalski in 1951's "A Streetcar Named Desire", and his animalistic charisma still leaps off the screen. Intriguingly, one of the extras included in the two-disc set for the movie is footage from a 1947 screen test of Brando when he was 23, and his stardom seems assured even then. The plot of the movie amounts to the inevitable clash between Kowalski and his visiting sister-in-law, Blanche DuBois, a fading Southern belle on the verge of a mental breakdown. Having proven her ability to be a convincing Southerner in "Gone With the Wind", Vivien Leigh expertly handles all the florid dialogue with her particular blend of defiance and vulnerability.
Strong supporting work comes from Kim Hunter as Blanche's naive sister Stella and Karl Malden as Blanche's seemingly respectful suitor Mitch.Read more ›
Not content to rest on their laurels as others would, WB has unearthed a relatively unknown motion picture that will be a treasure to those who love this man's work.
A Canadian documentary feature from the mid '70s called "TENNNESSEE WILLIAMS' SOUTH" has been rescued from limbo, and how wonderful to have it included as an exclusive bonus in this collection. Not only does it contain rare interviews with Williams shot over the period of a year in both Key West and New Orleans, but it also contains scenes from his plays performed by some of our greatest actors, including Maureen Stapleton, Burl Ives, and most importantly, Jessica Tandy re-creating her performance as Blanche DuBois. A miracle to behold.
Of course, the undisputed champion of this set is the two disc "A Streetcar Named Desire." An absolutely perfect rendering of a brilliant play, "Streetcar" boasts some of the most powerful performances you're likely to see. With Oscars going to Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter--this is one of the most honored films in history. And Marlon Brando's Stanley Kowalski has become a legend.
I'm not going to individually review every film, each offers its own merits. What is amazing about these films is how adult they were for their day and how well they stand up today. Southern melodrama never looked or sounded so good.
"Cat on A Hot Tin Roof" is a flawed, truncated version of Williams' play--but still an entertaining vehicle for Newman and Taylor. "Sweet Bird Of Youth" is one of my absolute favorites proving once and for all that Geraldine Page was an acting icon! Those that dismiss "Baby Doll" as a more minor work miss some of its subtlety. It's a very clever romp. "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" and "The Night of the Iguana" are both intriguing and eminently watchable, but not without their problems.
These films represent very adult topics, some great writing--sometimes leaning toward lurid melodrama--and awesome performances.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you enjoy William's plays, this will make a nice addition to your film library.Published 11 months ago by Marian Merritt
Every film a masterpiece. I wish "Summer and Smoike" had made it to this package, but...Published 19 months ago by Daniel G. Madigan
His novels and movies show the other side of human. A side we don't like to see.Published 19 months ago by Joan Kilgore
Excellent movies. T Williams was a brilliant playwrite. Really deep Actors in the movies are excellent. They portrayed their characters to the fullest extent....I'm sure Mr. Read morePublished on January 10, 2014 by Ad
For the time period in the movie industry, the movie is great primarily because of the actors; but the real success of the movie can be attributed to the fabulous playright... Read morePublished on April 21, 2013 by Tall Stranger
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