--Katharine Hepburn as “Violet Venable”
In 1958, Southern playwright Tennessee Williams, debuted a double-bill of one-act plays at an off-Broadway theater. The two plays were Something Unspoken and Suddenly, Last Summer and were presented under the titleGarden District (a reference to the elite neighborhood of New Orleans).
Suddenly, Last Summer was a dark play with disturbing themes that concerned a wealthy Southern family. Violet Venable—a domineering widow—was still reeling from the death of her only son, Sebastian. Her niece, Catherine Holly, was the last person to see Sebastian alive when he died “suddenly, last summer.” In order to silence Catherine’s less-than-flattering recollections of Sebastian’s last days, Violet has ordered that the girl be lobotomized. She contracts a gentle doctor, John Cukrowicz, to perfom the surgery. Soon, Dr. Cukrowicz finds himself embroiled in this sick family drama and realizes that it isn’t Catherine who needs the lobotomy.
When Columbia Pictures bought the film rights to the play and began to develop their cinematic production, Tennessee Williams was against the casting of Elizabeth Taylor as the vulnerable Catherine Holly. He stated, "It stretched my credulity to believe such a 'hip' doll as our Liz wouldn't know at once in the film that she was 'being used for something evil.” Nevertheless, Taylor gives one of her best performances—an achievement which brought her a Golden Globe Award for the role and an Academy Award Nomination.