Suddenly Last Summer
Suddenly Last Summer, a 1959 movie starring Montgomery Clift as Dr. Cukrowicz, opposite Elizabeth Taylor as "Kathy" and Katherine Hepburn as "Violet Venable". The movie was adapted from a play by Tennessee Williams, in a screenplay by both Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal.
This page copyright 2008 by Will Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
>=Synopsis= Katherine Hepburn wants her niece Elizabeth Taylor, who has gone insane, lobotomized by the doctor, to prevent her from spilling the secret of how Katherine's son actually died.
The action opens at the Lion's View State Asylum where we watch Dr. John Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift) perform a lobotomy. The wealthy widow Violet Venable requests he come to see her, as she is very interested in his work, and so next we meet her played by Katherine Hepburn. Violet tells John that not only is she a widow but her only child Sebastian who was a poet, has recently died.Violet speaks about Sebastian constantly, his favorite color was white, he was a poet, he died young, he had this or that view of this or that. Now we learn that there is an insane niece who evidently is raving horrible things about Sebastian at a nunnery. Violet then relates a graphic story of how she and Sebastian witnessed the annual hatching of the sea turtle eggs and their race to the sea while thousands of flesh-eating birds devour them before they can.
"Sebastian saw the face of God"
"We're all of us trapped by this devouring creation"
Now we meet the annoyingly talkative Vi and her son George, and learn that Vi is the mother of the insane girl, Kathy. Violet doesn't particularly like them and makes it clear. Now we meet Kathy (Elizabeth Taylor), who is being held in the nunnery as a violently insane person. Kathy reacts as a person held to be insane, who isn't. (A little too sensible, so we know right away something odd is up.)In the next scene we learn that Kathy has amnesia. She cannot remember anything prior to the Mardi Gras ball the previous Spring. She relates a story of what happened at that ball.
A man offers to take her home, but on the way they stop and make love on the grass. He then tells her that he is married, then he takes her home. She returns to the ball and he is back there as well, and she attacks him, but Sebastian takes her back home.
Kathy starts to tell about what happened the day Sebastian died, but after remembering part of the story, she becomes hysterical.
In the next scene, Kathy has apparently been moved to the State Asylum and her mother Vi and brother George come to see her, in the presence of Dr. Cukrowicz. With the doctor out of the room, George tells Kathy that Sebastian left a will and they are to get $50,000 each, but there's a catch. Violet wouldn't let the will go through probate, unless they agreed to keep Kathy locked up in the asylum. She then runs and accidentally gets trapped in the men's ward while they go berserk and scare her.
In the next scene Kathy is back in her room, and the doctor wants her to trust him, but she's not sure whose side he is on. She gets an injection to make her sleep, and as she's drifting off, we learn that Sebastian and she were traveling companions. They had traveled to various places but now he was "fed-up with the dark ones, famished for the blond ones", meaning people. "That's the way he talked about people, as if they were items on a menu." Now the doctor visits Violet Venable again at her home. "How did Sebastian die?" "I told you a heart attack." Violet tells the doctor that Sebastian was celibate, and that she herself was the only person who could satisfy the demands Sebastian made of people. They then together visit Kathy in the asylum.
The next scene, is in the asylum where Violet and Kathy confront each other over their relative worth in Sebastian's life. We now learn that Sebastian left his mother at home because she was too old to "procure for him". But Kathy was young, and able to attract what Sebastian wanted. Violet faints, and Kathy leaves the room. Kathy now goes to the observation deck of her ward and climbs over the railing, evidently thinking about jumping to her death, but is prevented. The head of the asylum tries to pressure the doctor to perform the lobotomy the next day. Next we go to Violet's home, where the doctor, the head of they asylum, Vi, George and Kathy all arrive for the big confrontation. We learn now that Sebastian's coffin was sealed when it arrived and not opened.
Everyone goes out to the garden, except the doctor and Kathy, who he injects with something. She thinks it's truth serum, then she thinks he is trying to hypnotize her. At any rate, we are about to hear the full version of how Sebastian died, but first she kisses him passionately. She and Sebastian visited Paris, New York, Rome and he brought her back to life after the man had jilted her at Mardi Gras. At Amalfi, they would go to the beach every day.
Continuing her story of what occurred, Sebastian bought her a skimpy bathing suit and dragged her into the water. "Why did he do that?" "To attract attention....I was procuring for him." We see many boys and young men ogling her and then Sebastian walks over to them. Afterward he comes out of a bath house and hands out tips to the boys. After a while, sitting at a restaurant, they discuss moving to another city, going North. But then the boys on the beach start to give them a serenade with homemade instruments. Sebastian runs away, annoyed or terrified. And the boys follow. With their instruments. He ran up the streets, higher and higher and the boys followed him, chasing him.
At the top of the hill, some ancient ruined temple. And they overtook him, he screamed just once. Kathy screamed and ran to get the police, and when they found his body, he was lying naked, and "it looked as if they had devoured him."
Violet Venable then has the delusion that the doctor is her son Sebastian, and that they are back on-ship in the Galapagos Islands.