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I've got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?—Big Daddy
A 1955 play that won Tennessee Williams his second Pulitzer Prize, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has endured thanks to numerous productions ever since. One of its best known versions was a 1958 film adaptation, staring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives.
The story concerns the Pollitt family, and all the ugly family issues that rear its ugly head as they reunite for its patriarch, Big Daddy's birthday. Big Daddy, unaware that he's dying, tries desperately to connect to his angry, alcoholic favored son, Brick, who is married to Maggie. Meanwhile, the other family members try desperately to suck up to Big Daddy to get some of his fortune. Of course, tensions between father and son have to be resolved some time...
This work features examples of:
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In the 1958 film, Maggie goes out to the pouring rain and gets her hair soaking wet, but the next time we see her, it's perfectly dry and styled.
- Broken Pedestal: Brick is shattered that Skipper killed himself, showing he was not as strong as he thought he was.
- The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Big Daddy has
cancera spastic colon.
- Disowned Adaptation: The 1958 film. Tennessee Williams allegedly would tell people in the queue to go home.
- Double Standard Rape (Female on Male): the play ends with Maggie removing all of the liquor, locking it away, and then telling Brick she'll only give it back to him if he has sex with her. A mild case, but a case nonetheless.
- Downer Ending: The original ending was this. Later, Williams wrote a Bittersweet Ending at the insistance of the stage director, Elia Kazan. The published version of the play contains both endings, with Williams offering the reader to choose between them.
- Driven to Suicide: Skipper
- Drowning My Sorrows: Brick. He explains that drinking causes a "click" in his head, that makes him feel peaceful.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Brick and Skipper - at least that's what Brick claims.
- Ignore the Fanservice: Maggie walks around wearing a sexy white slip, but Brick refuses even to touch her.
- It's All Junk: In the film, Brick does this to his family's possessions to send a message to his father about the importance of personal love rather than material love.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Big Daddy.
- Lingerie Scene: Maggie has one at the beginning.
- The Masochism Tango: Brick appearently hates Maggie, and he can't even bear to touch her - but he says that he won't divorce her.
- The Modest Orgasm: Brick brings it up at the end, saying that he and Maggie could have had sex without Mae and Gooper hearing it in the next room, because "not everybody makes much noise about love".
- Meaningful Echo: "Wouldn't it be funny, if that were true?" Was first used in the original version, shows up in some productions from time to time, and can mean all the difference between a happy ending and a bittersweet one.
- My Greatest Failure: Brick refusing to answer Skipper's phone call, possibly saving his life.
- The Patriarch: Big Daddy.
- Right Through the Wall: Gooper and Mae know that Brick and Maggie are not having sex, because they share a wall, and they hear her pleading and his refusal.
- Sexless Marriage: The marriage between Brick and Maggie became this.
- Streetwalker: When Big Daddy talks about his travels to other countries to Brick, he mentions that once in Morocco, a child prostitute so young she could barely walk tried to open his fly. He was so grossed out that he left the country instanty.
- Stocking Filler: Maggie is shown changing her stockings at the beginning of the film.
- Title Drop: Maggie uses the title to describe her life.
- The Un-Hug: In the 1958 film, Maggie hugs Brick at one point. Brick instinctively raises his arms to hug her back... then lets them down and tells Maggie to let go.
- Unnamed Parent: Big Daddy.
- Unusual Euphemism: For example "Frig Mae and Gooper, frig all dirty lies and liars!"