U.S.A. • 1959 • BLACK AND WHITE • 35MM • 114 MIN

What is the incident in the life of a beautiful patient (Elizabeth Taylor) that has caused her present neurotic state? Why does her aunt (Katharine Hepburn) want her lobotomised? The explanation is sensational and relates to lurid events the previous summer witnessed by Taylor that led to the death of the aunt’s son.

Originally a one-act play constructed largely around two monologues, the film has been opened out by Williams and Gore Vidal for the screen and includes a role for Montgomery Clift as a doctor, though he has little to do other than to listen to the increasingly fevered revelations of the ladies. Katharine Hepburn’s monologue chills you to the bone, and Elizabeth Taylor’s final speech grips like a vice as her memory flows into one of director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s most finely crafted flashbacks. Not to everyone’s taste (more specifically, Billy Wilder thought it would offend vegetarians), but it has developed a cult reputation as one of the more literate of horror films.

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