Katharine Hepburn Is Better Than You

source: Me!

Ahhh, the summer. There’s nothing better than kicking back, planning vacations and seeing them come to fruition.

This past summer I was fortunate enough to take a trip to D.C and tour through the National Mall. Between feasting on artisan burgers and sipping on bubble tea, I squeezed a trip to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

source: https://www.si.edu

Initially I was a bit hesitant to visit this particular museum; seeing as though I’m a bit of a history nerd I wanted to see actual artifacts not necessarily art work.

I was hilariously wrong.

When I walked inside I was taken back at how many brilliant paintings and sculptures I saw. From Presidential portraits to Barbie figurines, the National Portrait Gallery is arguably the most underrated museum there is in the National Mall.

The thing that shocked me the most during my visit was Katharine Hepburn‘s Oscar collection.

After my squealing calmed down after 3 minutes I was able to bask in the history of these four statues.

On Golden Pond, The Lion in Winter, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Morning Glory are all represented here through Katharine‘s four Academy Awards.

We all know that Katharine Hepburn was one of a kind and it was pretty moving to see her awards in the flesh.

All four of the films that she won her Oscars for are absolutely brilliant, with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner be a favorite of mine.

If you get a chance to visit America’s Nation’s capital I highly recommend stopping by the National Portrait Gallery, you never know what other classic Hollywood memorabilia you’ll find.

To read more entries into this blogathon, click: here.

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Hidden Gems: Yesterday, Today, and Tommorrow (1963)

YTT 1963
source: Embassy Pictures

When first getting into classic films, particularly as an American, you tend to stick with what you know: romantic comedies, slapsticks, westerns and those glorious MGM musicals etc.

Every once and a while you’ll stumble upon a film that features a “foreigner” for lack of a better word. From Brigitte Bardot to Gina Lollobrigida and even Yves Montand, we’ve all seen them costar alongside our favorite American stars, but there’s most certainly one actress that stands out from the rest.

Standing at 5’9″, blessed with sunkissed skin and with a personality as charming as a coffee date at 6 PM on a rainy day, Sophia Loren (whether you like it or not) is everyone’s classic Hollywood crush.

In no other movie is this best exemplified than in 1963’s Leri Oggi Domani, otherwise known in English as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

YTT 1963 2
source: Embassy Pictures

A rather experimental three-part comedy, directed by none other than Vittorio de Sica, himself, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is a hidden classic film that most people aren’t too aware of.

Staring the Italian duo of Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren, the movie tells three stories of various couples in several situations.

Starting with ‘Adelina of Naples’ progressing into ‘Anna of Milan’, then finally ending with ‘Mara of Rome’, as the movie continues you get a different feel for each couple and how the city they’re located in effects their relationship.

In Naples, we have Adelina.

Set against the backdrop of cobbled streets, beautiful architecture and relative poverty, Adelina helps out her struggling family and husband by selling black market cigarettes.

The entire sequence is quite hilarious, honestly. At one point she keeps forcing Mastroianni‘s character (her husband) to get her pregnant so she doesn’t have to go to jail for transgressions. Poor guy gets so exhausted he has to quit his job, it’s a very funny situation and a fantastic start to the picture.

yesterday_today_tomorrow photo 3
source: Embassy Pictures

The second story is fairly interesting, it tells the tale about a wealthy Milanista and her lover Renzo. They take a drive out into the countryside where they discuss a myriad of things, including their relationship, her marriage, and the Rolls- Royce they traveled in.

The woman, Anna, gets tired of Renzo not succumbing to every one of her whims, so he tells her off, which, understandably, upsets her a great deal.

She has two options in front of her: continue her wealthy lifestyle with her husband, or proceed with the affair she’s been having with Renzo.

The rest of the story sees he contemplate these choices as Renzo also reassess his life choices.

The third and final story is, perhaps, the one that most classic film lovers are familiar with.

YTT 1963 photo 4
source: Embassy Pictures

Mara is a prostitute who lives in a tiny one bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Rome. She has a proclivity to sleep with high profile clients, that’s how she met Augusto, a son of a wealthy Bologna industrialist.

To be quite honest with you, this is probably my favorite story out of all three of them, and I don’t want to particularly spoil it. That being said, the rest of it plays out very unexpectedly and if you ever get the chance to watch this, I can guarantee you’ll be just as shocked as I was.

In the end, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is a film ahead of its time. With de Sica‘s gorgeous shots of Italy, incredible acting by Mastroianni and Loren, and a coherent plot to keep the audience involved for hours, ‘YTandT‘ is a picture that deserves more praise that it has received.

 

 

Thank You, TCM

TCM logo1
source: Turner Broadcasting Company

It’s been awhile.

Life continues on, whether you like it or not. Despite that, I want to take the time out to write about something that’s changed my life – for the better.

In 2013, I was fairly young, high school aged to be exact. I had no clue what I wanted to do with myself.

I didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer like my fellow classmates, I just wanted to coast through and enjoy life. I had no plans, I liked living, I liked watching soccer and generally being a nuisance.

This all changed when I was required to take a high school elective on cinema appreciation


It was in this class that I was exposed to numerous films that would influence me for the foreseeable future:

and yes…

LoA
source: Columbia Pictures

There were others, of course, but these were the ones that stood out in my mind the most. They formed me, they helped me understand that there’s more depth to movies that I had originally expected.

So, I started digging.

Thanks to TCM, I found a treasure trove of classic pictures that shaped who I am. From Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant to James Cagney and Ginger Rogers, I was absolutely enthralled with what I was seeing.

I discovered the magic of classic films, I immersed myself in this world. I loved them, breathed them, and dreamt of them.

Because of this, I started to carry myself with a lot more confidence, I dug into the past of these actors and actresses. I learned about the backgrounds of these people and I lived through them. It affected the way I looked at life.

I thought to myself, “if the glitz and glamour of Hollywood could cover up some of the trials and tribulations that these actors and actresses were going through why can’t I keep my chin up during hard times?”

In summation, my love for history and classic films had a direct correlation to how I saw myself.

Isn’t that what movies are about?

Whisking you away for a couple of hours to forget about life?

Thank you, TCM, I really mean it.

 

 

Hidden Gems: Goodbye Again (1961)

goodbyeagain
source: United Artists

Picture it, Paris 1961.

The wind is cool, the coffee is warm and bitter, and you’re a businesswoman falling in love with the son of one of your clients who is 15 years younger than you.

Cute? Yes!

Difficult? Maybe.

Taboo? In 1961, it absolutely is.

Directed by Anatole Litvak (try saying that three times in succession) and co-starring Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, and Yves Montand, the film – based on the French novel Amiez Vous- Brahms? tells the story of a 40-year-old woman who takes on a younger lover to spite her longtime boyfriend who also has a penchant for affairs.

It’s an interesting film, in that two wrongs don’t make a right, but in this movie, it’s excusable.

Is infidelity justifiable (rewardable, even) when both parties partake in it? In Goodbye Again‘s case, Litvak certainly implies.

Goodbye Again 1961 1
source: United Artists

Frustrated by the fact that her boyfriend of 5 years won’t propose to her and his incessant affairs, Paula Tessier (played by Bergman) takes cautiously takes on a younger lover, hoping to free herself from the mental and emotional prison that’s been hounding her for years.

What makes this picture fascinating is that her beau, Roger (played by Montand) is very open about his affairs, but it doesn’t seem to trouble Paula.

Roger seems like the kind of guy to keep his options open, therefore he sees taking on another lover as nothing serious. Paula, on the other hand, is obviously hurt by this, but she dutifully keeps her mouth shut, only venting to her maid Gaby (played by Uta Taeger.)

When she sees the chance to “get back” at Roger, she’s hesitant, but eventually, she falls prey to her younger lover’s advances.

Phillip Van Der Besh (played by Anthony Perkins) is an attentive, charming and obsessive young man who worships the ground she walks one. At first, she takes his advances in stride, but as the film progresses and Roger shows no signs of slowing down his affairs, Paula’s feeling towards both men become more convoluted.

Goodbye-Again-1961-2
source: United Artists

This, “love rectangle” goes on for a couple of weeks until Roger goes on a business trip and by this point, Paula’s already made up her mind. Sick and tired of her boyfriend’s lack of attention and consideration for her feelings, she allows Phillip to move in with her.

Hurray, for true love!

Except, Roger takes offense to being cuckolded and proceeds to call up every woman he’s ever laid eyes and sleeps with them, hoping – praying, even to forget about heartbreak he just experienced.

While he does this, Paula remains unbothered, happily in love/lust with her newest boyfriend.

Roger realizes that he loves and misses Paula and finally, finally, decides to propose to her, begging for forgiveness. Stupidly, she takes him back and accepts his proposal. Naturally, this leaves Phillip heartbroken and confused.

Running from her apartment, by the time the movie ends, with Phillip is only a memory in Paula’s fickle mind and Roger continuing his playboy lifestyle.


Goodbye Again is your typical French movie, but with an “American” (I use that term loosely) cast. Loaded with angst, romance, and sensuality the picture plays out like a warm tea that soothes your throat after a cold day.

Bergman, stunning as usual, was fantastic in her starring role. She carried her heart on her sleeve, unfortunately, in the end, she ended up being scorned- again.

Goodbye Again 1961 3
source: United Artists

Anthony Perkins played the perfect “Dustin Hoffman” to Bergman‘s Anne Bancroft. He was calm, cool, collected, and petulant. His character, Phillip seemed like a reasonable guy. All he wanted to do was be the man he knew he could be for Paula, but it appeared she couldn’t let go of her comfort zone, even if Roger truly didn’t love her.

I supposed that’s the sad thing about this film.

Roger wanted the comfort of Paula without all of the commitment. Phillip wanted to take care of her like a proper lover, but Paula can’t get over the age gap.

In the end, insecurity wins out.

Eh, C’est la vie.

 

 

 

 

 

The Classic Comfort Movie Blogathon…

mclintock 1
source: United Artists

“George Washington McLintock,” is the name that Katherine McLintock wistfully whispers to herself as she comes face to face with estranged husband of 2 years.

Standing eye to eye for the first time in 730 days, the McLintock’s are reuniting for a rather important moment in their lives – the finalization of their divorce.

Spearheaded by Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne, McLintock! is a film that may be overlooked compared to other Wayne/O’Hara collaborations.

Action packed with slapstick comedy, romantic tension, and witty dialogue by James Edward Grant, the film is a refreshing take on the western genre.

It may star John Wayne, but it isn’t your typical “shoot em’ up cowboy” movie.

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, McLintock! is a family friendly, comedy romp starring two Hollywood legends.

It tells the story of George McLintock as he struggles both professionally and personally to overcome various obstacles in his life.

Whether it be his ex-wife returning to his ranch to beg for their daughter’s custody, Native Americans fighting him for a piece of his land, or local townsfolk harassing him for no good reason, the predicaments that George gets himself into makes for a hilarious movie.

McLintock 2
source: United Artists

One of the more memorable scene from the film was the giant mudslide fight about halfway through the movie.  The scene, which lastest a grand total of 10 minutes is an absolute ‘gut buster.’ It had me rolling on the ground for a good 5 minutes, my lungs were very sore after that ordeal.

O’Hara, often known for her grittiness and willingness to do action sequences, did all of her own stunts in the scene. As a woman, I’d have to say that was very commendable, and it’s probably something I would’ve done as well.

Lastly, and perhaps the funniest scene of the picture is its finale. It sees a half naked (not really, she was wearing bloomers) O’Hara soaking wet and soiled running away from an irked and disgruntled John Wayne.

When he finally catches up with her, it culminates in Wayne taking O’Hara over his knew and smacking her into submission.

McLintock 3
source: United Artists

Hilarious? Yes.

Sexist? A tad bit.

Is it in line with the movie’s plotline? Absolutely!

That’s why I believe McLintock! is the perfect comfort movie. It’s not the best Western out there, but it doesn’t attempt to be.

It does it its job perfectly.

It’s entertaining, nostalgic, and the excellent film to watch when you want to unwind from a long day at work.

What more could you ask for?

Classic Movies Are Food For the Soul

mgm_1943
source: MGM’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

When I first got into classic films 5 years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Naturally, like any bratty, snotty-nosed teenager, I turned my nose up at those “black and white snoozefests.” It wasn’t until I took a mandatory ‘Cinema Appreciation’ class that I started to *ahem* ‘appreciate’ classic films.

A couple weeks, I began to watch to The Asphalt Jungle. About halfway through, I got unbearably tired and I just had to go to bed.

The next morning I check the TCM on demand (the app is truly God-sent, I highly recommend you download it) to see if the film was still there, lo and behold, it had an expiration date.

Crushed.

I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed, but then I realized the movie served its purpose.

The Asphalt Jungle 2
source: MGM

At the time, circumstances in my life were pretty overwhelming. My college courses weren’t going to plan, the weather down here was dire, and I was struggling with life in general.

That hour of The Asphalt Jungle immediately put me in a better mood. I may not have finished it, but the film took my mind off of my current problems.

This show the power of classic films, I may not have finished it, but it gave me pleasure in another way – emotionally.

And for that, I thank them.

The Short-Lived Romance of Kim Novak and Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy and Kim
God Bless you, Vanity Fair

I’ve written quite a lot about classic Hollywood romances.

Some are tragic, others are straight out of a romance novel, this relationship, in particular, is intriguing for other reasons.

The pairing of Sammy Davis Jr. and Kim Novak is an underrated coupling – an interesting one, actually.

In 1957, a couple of weeks after Kim was finished shooting the greatest movie of all time, Vertigo, she stopped by her hometown of Chicago for a night out at Chez Paree.

The entertainment for that night? None other than the very charming Sammy Davis Jr.

According to this “Vanity Fair” piece on the matter, apparently – at first- Kim wanted to use Davis‘ flirtations as a way to get back at Harry Cohn for his mistreatment of her.

Eventually, she and Sammy fell into a cordial friendship, which saw them exchange numbers and midnight rendezvous hidden away from the public eye.

NOVAK DAVIS 2

What attracted Kim to Sammy wasn’t his race (of course that was part of it) but his stage presence. Much like my attraction to the internationally known k-pop band BTS, Sammy Davis‘ stage presence oozed sensuality.

With a cigarette in one hand and a ribbon microphone in the other, Davis crooned his way into the depths of Novak‘s heart.

So, they started dating.

Fully aware that their interracial relationship in 1957 could very well ruin both of their career’s, the pair had to keep it low-key.

For a couple of months, Sammy and Kim were in complete and utter bliss.

But they knew that inevitably the gossip columns (specifically Dorothy Kilgalen) would sniff around and get a whiff of what their relationship was giving off.

Once Kilgalen alerted the general public, other gossip columns started to jump on the speculation bandwagon.

That was the first gust of wind that knocked down their carefully crafted house of cards.

KIM AND SAMMY

Sadly, their relationship didn’t last too long after that.

They tried to continue their romance, by evading photographers, hiding in the backseats of cars, meeting behind closed doors, and just generally staying out of the public eye.

Between the press and Harry Cohn’s incessant harassment, Novak and Davis parted ways.


In 1957, America was still deeply segregated. Unfortunately, their relationship was a casualty of that toxic mindset.

If there were any classic Hollywood relationship that could’ve worked out, I wish it were this one. Not only would they have broken boundaries but, seeing an interracial couple on the covers on “Confidential” or “Photoplay” would’ve been a sight to see.

It truly is a shame.

If only we could go back in time.

The Third Golden Boy Blogathon: A William Holden Centenary Celebration…

Audrey and Bill
source: Paramount Pictures

Is it really a true classic Hollywood film unless your two leads have an affair?

From Bogart and Bacall, Crawford and Gable, Kelly and well, just about everyone (allegedly), having an affair with your co-star is as common as putting cereal before milk.

One tryst that I’ve always liked was the short-lived relationship between Audrey Hepburn and William Holden.

Audrey and William
source: Paramount Pictures

Let’s travel back to 1954.

The Korean war has ended, Eisenhower was president, and Audrey Hepburn was Hollywood’s hottest commodity.

Coming off an Oscar win for 1953’s Roman Holiday, Hepburn threw herself into her work, starting with the Billy Wilder romantic dramedy Sabrina.

It’s on this set where she meets and subsequently falls in love with Hollywood’s ‘Golden Boy’ William Holden.

Sabrina was Holden‘s third film with Wilder, making him a mediator whenever there were disagreements between Bogart and Hepburn on set. Since Holden was notorious for having on set affairs, it was only a matter of time until Hepburn fell for his charms.

One thing led to another and Hepburn eventually caved in. Their on-set rendezvous, however, caused frustration among the crew – particularly Bogart who was still bitter about his wife Lauren Bacall being passed over the title role of Sabrina.

William and Audrey 2
source: Audrey and ‘Bill” having a rather flirty conversation during one of their breaks on the set of 1954’s Sabrina

Their heated affair lasted until the end of filming.

According to multiple biographies, Audrey ultimately wanted Holden to divorce his wife and move in with him, inevitably having his children.

Hah!

Holden unintentionally ruined their future together when he had an impromptu vasectomy after his two sons were born. This left Audrey rather distressed and heartbroken. She finally ended their relationship when Holden admitted he wouldn’t divorce his wife for her.

Luckily, filming was completed relatively swiftly, leaving Hepburn with time to mend her shattered hopes and dreams.

William and Audrey 3
source: Paramount Pictures

The next time Holden and Hepburn crossed paths was in 1964, 10 years after the filming of Sabrina when they co-starred in the romantic comedy Paris When It Sizzles.

The movie wasn’t too great, but what it lacked in the on-screen plot was more than made up in the crazy behind the scenes drama involving their relationship and Holden‘s rampant alcoholism.

Director Richard Quine commented on this, saying that Holden “was like a punch-drunk fighter, walking on his heels, listing slightly, talking punchy. He didn’t know he was drunk.”

This downfall was partly due to Hepburn‘s presence.

Holden fell for Hepburn – hard.

Apparently, every so often, Holden would send letters and flowers to Hepburn even though she’d been married to fellow actor Mel Ferrer for 10 years.

Holden would later recall his first time seeing Audrey after 10 years, saying, “I could hear my footsteps echoing against the walls of the transit corridor, just like a condemned man walking the last mile. I realized that I had to face Audrey and I had to deal with my drinking. And I didn’t think I could handle either situation.”

William and Audrey 5
source: Audrey and William having a laugh during their downtime on the set of 1954’s Sabrina

I suppose that’s the saddest part of this entire ordeal. If wasn’t for Holden‘s ‘surprise’ vasectomy and his alcoholism, he probably would’ve married Hepburn.

Who knows what they would’ve become? The next Newman and Woodward or Burton and Taylor? Would he have cheated on her like he did with his wife or would he treat her differently?

I’d like to think so, considering how deeply affected he was after seeing her again after 10 years.

In the end, Holden and Hepburn went their separate ways. Hepburn with Mel Ferrer and Holden with Brenda Marshall until their divorce in 1971.

 

The Second Annual Doris Day Blogathon…

Midnight Lace
source: Universal Pictures

Doris Day.

Happy Birthday, first of all. Secondly, give yourself a pat on the back.

She really outdid herself this time.

The Doris Day that we like to remember is the girl next door. She’s everyone’s best friend, she’s one who married her child high school sweetheart and bakes cookies for her children’s school bake sale.

Perhaps that facade gets masks the true hidden talent in Day‘s acting arsenal.

In the thriller Midnight Lace, the ‘Hitchcock Day™‘ (something, I dubbed her after watching The Man Who Knew Too Much ) was out in full force.

The film follows newly-wed Kit Preston and her struggles to adjust to life in England. Not only does she have to deal with the melancholic weather and a different culture, she’s also being phone stalked by a man who’s threatening to kill her.

Her husband Anthony ‘Tony’ Preston, played by Rex Harrison, insists that it’s just a practical joke and tries to calm her down with an extended honeymoon to Venice.

Midnight Lace 1960 2
source: Universal Studios

The next day Kit prepares for this trip by buying a variety of clothing. During her shopping spree, she nearly gets hit by a falling girder from a nearby construction site. This is where we get introduced to Brain Younger, played by John Gavin.

He quickly takes an interest in Mrs. Preston, acting as a guardian angel of sorts, whenever she gets in trouble.

The phone calls continue, getting more and more hostile as the days roll on. It gets so bad that Tony takes the initiative and gets Scotland Yard involved. Immediately they bombard Mrs. Preston with a litany questions. Ranging from, ‘do you have any enemies?’ to ‘are you happy in your marriage?’

Naturally Tony takes offense and that leads the head detective, played by John Willams, to question him, insinuating that he may behind this entire ‘stunt.’

As if things can’t get any worse for Kit, Tony cancels their trip to Venice, claiming that work has got him extraordinarily busy.

midnigh lace 1960 3
source: Universal Studios

Luckily, a few days later Kit’s vivacious Aunt Bea, played by Myrna Loy, shows up for an extended stay at her flat.

Things progressively get stranger as the weeks go on. It starts with Kit getting stuck in an elevator and having a panic attack. What she believes is her stalker is actually Brian apologizing for his construction site cutting off the electricity. Next, she gets pushed in front of a moving bus in front of a crowd of strangers The final straw is when the people around start to doubt her, calling her delusional and paranoid.

Tony and Bea take her to a physician where he clears her of all potential ailments.

Seeing as though there’s nothing wrong, Tony decides to re-schedule their trip to Venice, at the insistence of Aunt Bea.

A couple of days pass without calls and the Preston’s deduce that they must’ve stopped. It isn’t until late one night when Tony’s due at a business meeting across town that the calls continue. This time, Tony actually hears the threats. He quickly tells Kit that he’ll cancel his meeting and they’ll devise a plan on how to catch the stranger.

Tony plans to walk out of the building, in plain sight, sneak back in and catch the killer in the middle of his act.

He does just that and this is where the film gets even crazier.

Midnight Lace 1960 4
source: Universal Studios

They wrestle for a while until the “stranger” gets shot with his own weapon. I put “stranger” in quotations because he isn’t a stranger at all but the naval husband of Kit’s supposed best friend and next door neighbor Peggy Thompson, played by Natasha Perry.

This is important because she’s being used as a witness in Tony’s plot to kill Kit while making it look like an accident. You see, Tony recently found that one of his employees’ embezzled one million pounds away from his company. The only way to get that money is to, apparently, kill his wife.

Her husband Roy Ash, played by Anthony Dawson, has been stalking Tony’s movements ever since he returned home from the war. He believed that they were having an affair, and that’s why he’s been so secretive.

Stuck at crossroads, Kit sprints towards her bedroom where she screams out for help. Once again, Brian is there to save the day, conveniently walking out of the pub just in time to help Kit cascade down the scaling safely.

Moments later the police arrive, arresting Tony, Peggy and getting medical help for the wounded ‘intruder’ lying on the ground so desperately needs.

The final shot of the film has Brian and Aunt Bea walking off in the distance comforting Kit with words of encouragement.

Conclusion

midnight-lace-the-end
source: Universal Studios

As I stated earlier, Day‘s dramatic acting skills are very underrated.

During the entire film, I was in shock at how well she carried the heavier, fear-inducing scenes.

I suppose that’s a testament to the director, David Miller.

His use of shadows and darkness to create a frantic mood truly terrified me. As for the acting performances, Rex Harrison was positively unsettling. I always suspected he was up to something, It didn’t surprise me when he revealed himself to be the ‘bad guy’ at the end.

I AM surprised that Doris didn’t receive a nomination for her role as Kit. I thought she did a phenomenal job, acting alongside Myrna Loy certainly isn’t an easy task, but she pulled it off flawlessly.

Speaking of Myrna Loy, I absolutely adored in this movie. Her delivery was quick, witty and at time heartbreak (when we reach the film’s climax, anyway.)

As the film ended, I couldn’t help but think that Day‘s character would bounce back that ordeal.

In my mind, she’d fly back to the States with Aunt Bea for a period of time while they clean out her old apartment, keeping in touch with Brian through a letter correspondence. After a couple of weeks in the US, she’ll return to England where she and Brian will move in together, eventually marrying months later.

One can only hope, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who believes this?

 

Drunk Paul Newman

Drunk Paul Newman
Notice any similarities?

Alcohol.

Friend to many, detriment to most.

It can be sipped and savored with friends, tossed around by co-workers and was religiously used by classic Hollywood movie stars as a way to ‘self-medicate’ decompress after a long day of shooting.

More often than not, alcohol is used as a plot device, with screenwriters using the liquid as a physical manifestation of the inner turmoil that the characters are suffering with.

There are two instances where Hollywood’s resident salad dressing salesman™, Paul Newman begins a movie he’s starring in drunker than a freshman at college tailgate party.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Cool Hand Luke were made almost a decade apart from each other, but, they still manage to touch on some similar themes.

Drunk Paul
source: Warner Bros.

In Cool Hand Luke, Lucas Jackson was a free spirit. We see this when he gets sent to prison for drunkenly cutting off the heads of parking meters. When ‘Luke’ arrives at the labor camp he proceeds to “have a bit of fun” by ‘stirring the pot’ among his fellow prison mates and the guards.

Inmates like ‘Dragline’ played by George Kennedy, at first, found ‘Luke’ peculiar, wanting to put him in his place before he gets out of line. Eventually, the pair becomes allies as they join forces to fight against the tyrannical reign of the sadistic prison guards.

The question is, what led Luke down this path?

He was a decorated war veteran, presumably dealing with some sort of mental stress from being in such a high-risk environment, he had a face to die for with the charms of a KPop idol oozing out of every pore and he had the intrapersonal intelligence to make friends with everyone that came in contact with him.

What happened?

Well, according to the film, ‘Luke’ had some family issues, specifically with his sick mother. This, combined with the added mental scars from his war days may have led ‘Luke’ to have a “happy go lucky” attitude about life. This explains why he was up at 3 A.M vandalizing parking meters without a care in the world.

He’d pretty much lost everything: his mom, his mind, and by the end of the movie, his will to live.

Drunk Paul 2
source: MGM

In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick’s situation is slightly different.

While ‘Luke’ didn’t care too much for other people’s opinions, Brick, on the other hand, cared too much.

This has him fall into a deep, alcohol-fueled depression where not even the advances of his very attractive wife Maggie, played by Elizabeth Taylor, can rescue him from the grasps of perpetual sadness.

Brick’s problem’s, unlike ‘Luke’, stems from his overbearing, classically Southern father ‘Big Daddy’ played by Burl Ives. At the climax of the film, ‘Big Daddy’ and Brick air their grievances with a 10-minute long conversation about the latter’s stubbornness. During the “talk” Maggie saunters in and explains to her father-in-law that it was the loss of his best friend Skipper that sent Brick into this state.

Maggie had always been jealous of their relationship. Brick spent every waking moment of his life with ‘Skip’, naturally that would make any woman upset. As payback, Maggie ruins their friendship, which probably contributed to Skipper’s suicide.

With that out in the open, the first scene of the movie where Brick drunkenly stumbles upon a track and field course and attempts to hurdle every last one of the barriers before being humbled by a broken leg makes sense.

Brick was trying to recapture his youth. He wanted to go back to a time where there were no family picnics, no responsibility, and no doting wives.

He blamed Maggie for his best friend’s death, is it any wonder why he didn’t want to sleep with her anymore; well, that and several other reasons.


In the end, alcohol was just a coping mechanism for deeper problems for each of these men- a side effect of the emotions they were both dealing with.

Paul Newman had a knack for picking good scripts. He certainly didn’t disappoint with these two and I am forever grateful.