Cat On A Hot Tin Roof: The Difference Between The Movie And The Play

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When Richard Brooks and James Poe turned the stage play Cat on a hot tin roofinto a film script, they focused mainly on the plot and fashioned his adaptation of Tennessee Williams' work after Hollywood romances that were popular in the 1950s.

With this goal in mind he adds a detailed exposition of the background story to the beginning of the movie, to let the audience experience what is just told in stories in the original play. With this approach, the movie leaves less to the imagination of its audience, but gives the viewer what he expects - not theater in the movies but a theater based movie.

Drama in the stage Cat is created via dialogue. The film version relies on a more outward form of drama, particularly visible in the scene between Big Daddy and Brick in the basement, where he finally destroys a life sized picture of himself. The internal drama turns into an external, visual one, imminent to the medium of film that can show subtle emotions in close up. The close up of theater is the character's word.

The film adapts the words of Williams' original play, though in a cut version. Most speeches are either omitted or condensed to their essentials. Other parts have been edited with regard to Williams' explicit language. The movie uses a very clean language, aimed at the suburban middle class audience. The cursing that tells so much of Big Daddy's story between the lines in the stage version, has been tamed greatly. It takes part of his roughness away, an essential element in the conflict between him and his son Brick. In restricting the language, the movie version pays no tribute to the notion that "Williams' language is musical even at is most colloquial"(1).

Content as well has been adjusted to the film's time and audience. Direct verbal acknowledgement of sex, prostitution, and homosexuality were reduced to faint hints. Contrary to the play, Maggie denies her adulterous affair with Brick's friend Skipper in the filmed version,... Continue Reading