Netflix has been showing some old, vintage movies lately and yes, I’ve been watching most of them. There was a special line spoken by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1958 hit movie, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (click here) that peaked my attention. Based on a Broadway play written by Tennessee Williams, the dialogue between all the characters is the real star. Brutal and honest, a family fights over money. Millions of dollars that is going to be left by a rich Big Daddy played by Burl Ives, to one of his sons: Brick, played by Paul Newman or Gooper, played by Jack Carson.
In the movie, Elizabeth Taylor, playing Maggie (the cat) pleads with her alcoholic husband, Brick, played by Paul Newman, the value and the importance of doing whatever it is going to take to get Big Daddy to name him as sole inheritor of his estate. Here’s a transcript of Elizabeth Taylor’s brilliant portrayal of a once poor girl now facing a later life without any money:
MAGGIE: Brick, y’know I’ve been so God damn disgustingly poor all my life!- That’s the truth, Brick!
BRICK: I’m not sayin’ it isn’t
MAGGIE: Always had to suck up to people I couldn’t stand because they had money and I was poor as Job’s turkey. You don’t know what it’s like. Well, I’ll tell you, it’s like you would feel a thousand miles away from Echo Spring!- And had to get back to it on that broken ankle… without a crutch!
That’s how it feels to be as poor as Job’s turkey and have to suck up to relatives that you hated because they had money and all you had was a bunch of hand-me-down clothes and a few old moldy three per cent government bonds. My daddy loved his liquor, he fell in love with his liquor the same way you’ve fallen in love with Echo Spring!- And my poor Mama, having to maintain some semblance of social position, to keep appearances up, on an income of one hundred and fifty dollars a month on those old government bonds!
When I came out, the year I made my debut, I had just two evening dresses! One Mother made me from a pattern in Vogue, the other a hand-me-down from a snotty rich cousin I hated! -The dress that I married you in was my grandmother’s weddin’ gown… So that’s why I’m like a cat on a hot tin roof!
You can be young without money but you can’t be old without it. You’ve got to be old with money because to be old without it is just too awful, you’ve got to be one or the other, either young or with money, you can’t be old and without it.– That’s the truth, Brick…
Back in 1958, the author Tennessee Williams knew the value of having money in old age. It wasn’t a coincidence that he wrote Taylor’s old age money fears into her moving monologue as part of his play. People realized they needed money in old age back then and it’s even more prevalent now.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend that you do. In the end, it’s Brick’s honesty and painful, bitter reality, forced out of him by Big Daddy that finally lands him his father’s estate. Big Daddy knew he only had a few weeks to live and he never gave up hope that his alcoholic, most favored son would finally straighten out his life and be heir to his million dollar cotton business. It also was not a coincidence that father and son argue it out in the basement, filled to the ceiling with worthless, meaningless material possessions.
They don’t write movies or plays like this anymore. I guess authors think we can’t handle the truth (where have I heard that line before?)
Here’s the trailer. Don’t miss this movie.