Greatest Movie Ever: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

catBy Fay Lamb

Because I look at movies from a writer’s standpoint, I have to say that the best movie ever made, as far as I’m concerned, is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. There is something in this movie for both writers and non-writers to love.

The first time I watched Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Burl Ives, I was taken by the layers of conflict involved in every scene. Little nuances such as the husband not wanting to drink after the wife to an all-out shout-fest between father and son, these all drew me in. So fascinated was I with this movie that I thought for years how great it would be to use the film to teach a writing workshop.

And I did. I called it Characters and Conflict. Then two years later, while preparing for another conference workshop, I was tempted to use it for one of the four days as a discussion on conflict. That’s when I realized that the screenplay had to have been written by someone who understood the art of fiction. Every facet of storytelling is alive in the screenplay, including how not to use back story. In fact, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is all about back story—done correctly. The audience learns the backstory in the present. There is not one cheap flashback (or information dumps). The conflict brings the past into the present in a powerful way—the way an author should present it in his books.

As I mentioned, you don’t have to be an author to enjoy the story. This film has it all. Characters you love, characters you hate; and a story that doesn’t let go of all of its secrets until the end … and a very satisfying ending it is. Oh and then there’s that dress that Elizabeth Taylor wears. For me, it is a character all its own. I have longed dreamed of owning one just like it.

And Paul Newman … who could get tired of looking at that man’s blue eyes?

Yes, there’s something for everyone in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Fay Lamb is an editor, writing coach, and author, whose emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt,A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and the newest adventure The Love Boat Bachelor. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind.
Fay Lamb   Author, Editor, Writing Coach
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5 thoughts on “Greatest Movie Ever: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    • Oh, Amy. It’s a wonderful old movie. Full of emotion and conflict, and the story of a very dysfunctional Southern family. Back story is done beautifully in such a way that you won’t believe how far the inciting action occurred to bring us to the moment of this film.

  1. I took a five-week summer class on Tennessee Williams when I was working on my Master of Liberal Studies degree. No doubt he’s a brilliant playwright. My favorite of his works is The Glass Menagerie, though I’m not sure I could tell you why. It’s the one that haunts me, I suppose. While I agree with you about the conflict and great use of handling backstory, to me the characters in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are plain crazy! (Laughing as I write this.) I really appreciated your take on this–may have to watch it again.

    • Johnnie: I know you’re a Southern gal, so you’ll understand this. We Southerners do crazy as an art form. It’s what makes us so refreshingly unique.

      • Totally agree, Fay. I tell you, I’ve been thinking about COAHTR off and on all day after reading your post and definitely will watch it when I get the chance–and through “different” eyes. Thanks for that perspective.

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