Blu-Ray Review: Suddenly, Last Summer

Tennessee Williams was without doubt one of the greatest American playwrights of the 20th century. There are few, if any, dramatists who have had so much of their work adapted for the big screen. His plays have become synonymous with some of the greatest moments of American cinema. Taylor and Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Brando and Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire. Douglas and Wyman in The Glass Menagerie. Three of the biggest screen icons come together in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Suddenly, Last Summer.

Dr. Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift) is a brilliant young doctor who is doing pioneering work in the sphere of lobotomization. A wealthy widow Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn) tries to coerce him to perform the operation on Catherine (Elizabeth Taylor), a young lady institutionalised after the death of her cousin, and Violet’s only son, Sebastian in mysterious circumstances. He agrees to evaluate Catherine but soon begins to suspect that there’s something untoward going on.

Suddenly, Last Summer is an exotic Southern Gothic tale with an air of the risqué. Gore Vidal’s screenplay is steeped in gay subtext, and whilst Sebastian’s sexuality is never directly addressed, it leads to a brutal crescendo. Hepburn and Taylor are the stars of the show. They’ve both got such a luminous and magnetic screen presence. Suddenly, Last Summer is a classic deep American drama with a touch of faded grandeur and glory.

Indicator Limited Edition Special Features:

• 4K restoration from the original negative
• Original mono audio
• Joseph L Mankiewicz Interview (1990, 10 mins): the renowned filmmaker discusses his career in a segment from the French TV series Cinéma cinémas
• Elizabeth Taylor on Montgomery Clift (1966, 2 mins): the celebrated actress pays tribute to her friend and co-star shortly after his tragic death in July 1966
• Gary Raymond on ‘Suddenly, Last Summer’ (2018): a new interview with the versatile British actor
• About Last Summer (2018, 16 mins): second assistant editor John Crome shares his experience of making Suddenly, Last Summer
• Remembering Last Summer (2018, 3 mins): continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck recalls working with Mankiewicz, Hepburn and Clift
• The Predator and the Prey (2017, 26 mins): critic and film historian Michel Ciment examines the film’s production and explores its complex themes and concerns
• Isolated music and effects track
• Original theatrical trailer
• Trailer commentary with Dan Ireland (2013, 3 mins): a short critical appreciation
• Image gallery: on-set photography, publicity stills and promotional materials
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Samm Deighan, a set report from Films and Filming magazine, a profile of production designer Oliver Messel, Tennessee Williams on Suddenly, Last Summer, a statement by producer Sam Spiegel, contemporary reviews, and film credits
• UK premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

Suddenly, Last Summer is released on Blu-ray by Powerhouse Films as part of their Indicator Series on 30 April.

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