Cat People: (for Parterre Box)

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Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

DAVID FOX: When I imagine my ideals of human physical perfection, two images that often come to mind instantly are, in fact, production stills from this film: Elizabeth Taylor, standing in her white slip and toying distractedly with a drink; and Paul Newman in pajamas, posed similarly. Has any woman or man ever been as beautiful as these two? I doubt it. Watching the movie again last night—for the first time through in a number of years—I literally gasped out loud. Gorgeousness is, of course, its own reward—and the movie of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has many other pluses as well—but I do think Taylor and Newman’s good looks pose an on-going distraction. They are god-like, whereas Williams’ Maggie and Brick are attractive people beginning to age out of their youthful appeal.

CAMERON KELSALL: In our first dispatch about this play last week, I wrote about my feelings that Taylor’s beauty permanently altered our conception of Maggie as a sexpot—which seems to be borne out in the lineage of women who have played her on stage and screen since. Revisiting the film didn’t change that conjecture, although it’s interesting that, while most of the actors who’ve played Brick are handsome and rugged, that character hasn’t fallen into a similar conventional trap. That said, I was struck anew by how compelling Taylor and Newman are in their roles. To be honest, neither is an all-time favorite actor—he was so often awash in earnestness, and she frequently coasted on personality and looks—but here, they are devastatingly believable as two people who don’t seem able to exist with or without each other…

Read the full post at Parterre Box.

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