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« Lauren Bacall (1924-2014) | Main | Elizabeth Taylor in "Suddenly Last Summer". Oh how that star burned. »

Visual Index ~ Suddenly Last Summer (1959)

This week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot episode is devoted to the film adaptation of Tennessee William's Suddenly Last Summer (1959) in which a brain surgeon (Montgomery Clift) whose hospital is in dire need of cash is enlisted by a filthy rich woman (Katharine Hepburn) to perform a lobotomy on her niece (Elizabeth Taylor) because that niece keeps telling lies about her dead gay son. Got that? That's just the kick-off to the crazy.

This sensationalistic film, which was the third and final onscreen pairing of bosom buddies and immortal stars Taylor and Clift, was nominated for three Oscars: Two Best Actress nominations and Art Direction.


Cinematography by Jack Hildyard
Shots are displayed in their rough chronological order. Click on the shot to read the corresponding article.
11 Shots Selected By 12 Participants

- A Year With Kate

-Coco Hits NY

-Antagony & Ecstasy

-Manuel Betancourt

- Entertainment Junkie

- The Film's The Thing

- The Film Experience

- Lam Chop Chop

- Cinema Enthusiast

- Glenn Dunks


- Film Actually

- Pop Culture Crazy


And don't forget to return tomorrow afternoon when Anne Marie, our Hepburn expert, revisits this overheated feast. 

NEXT TUESDAY: GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) Part 1. Select your best shot from the first half of Gone With the Wind, from that opening overture to Scarlett's vow to never go hungry again

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Reader Comments (9)

The film contains so many choices for best shots but the one that stayed with me is during Kate's first meeting with Monty when she kneels down to feed the Venus Flytrap that's encased in glass. She looks up at him while the plant consumes the fly, foreshadowing Sebastian's fate in a way. It's a striking shot but seems to contain so much subtext too. In a way she kept Sebastian encased in glass and fed off him like the plant and never paid attention to the fact she was doing it.

It not a best shot but when I was watching last night I noticed for the first time while Clift is waiting for Hepburn to come down the first time the mirror on the wall behind him is shaped like the distorted head in Munch's The Scream. It's only a brief glimpse but it added to the horror show aspect of that oppressive house.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

@ Coco Hits NY- that is my favorite shot as well. As soon as Hepburn descends that elevator, she and the audience knew this was her movie. She is like a goddess deciding to spend some of her time with the mere mortals around her.

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom

joel 6 & tom --- i really feel like you can write entire essays on so many scenes in this movie. there is so much to consider. I almost wanted to write a huge piece on just the chairs in the movie alone.

August 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

"They devoooooooured him!"

I'm totally feeling abstew's entry at The Film's The Thing. For that reason, I would have picked one of the shots in the flashback sequence where we see Sebastian Venable, always from behind. Even though it was probably a stand-in and not Clift himself (although the anecdote about Hepburn spitting in Mankiewicz' face might suggest otherwise), the figure is clearly meant to suggest the doppelganger relationship between Sebastian and Dr. C. It resonates even more strongly for me because of the car accident that disfigured Clift: Sebastian is always faceless in these shots.

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

cabeza de lobo!

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

marcelo - you said it!

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

thanks, paul! with two such amazing actresses as kate and liz losing their shit on screen, i was surprised at how much i was drawn to clift this time. and i love your parallel between the faceless sebastian and clift's own disfigured face - why didn't i think of that!

great shots all around, everyone! crazy elevators, split-screen narrations, and that skeleton that seems to have made its way in almost half the entries...not even a lobotomy could stop me from remembering them...

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterabstew

abstew & paul - it's so strange to look at Clift in his later roles because in some shots and from some angles he still looks stunning but then from others, something is wrong but you can't quite pinpoint what. :(

funny that everyone loved the skeleton because that's my least favorite image in the film which is already so emphatically about death that i didn't need a literal representation

August 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I've never seen Suddenly Last Summer in its entirety, but I remember that skeleton SO vividly. Can't wait to read these!

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

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