The Tennessee Williams Film Collection (R2) in May
Warner Home Video have announced the UK Region 2 DVD release of The Tennessee Williams Film Collection as an HMV Exclusive for 22nd May 2006 priced at £44.99. The collection features the long-awaited DVD debuts of Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone along with a newly remastered two-disc Special Edition of A Streetcar Named Desire which will also be available individually on 8th May for £19.99 RRP. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is also included as part of the set.
Bonus materials in this collection include new making-of documentaries, plus expert commentaries, never before seen outtakes, rare screen tests with Brando, Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, a radio broadcast with Brando from 1947 and vintage featurettes. Exclusive to the collection is a special bonus disc, Tennessee Williams’ South, a feature-length vintage documentary that includes remarkable interviews with Williams in and around New Orleans, plus great scenes from Williams’ plays especially filmed for this documentary, including rare footage of Jessica Tandy as Blanche (the role she created in A Streetcar Named Desire) and Maureen Stapleton as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie.
Williams, from whose pen came truly unforgettable characters and an incredible vision of life in the South, stands with Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller as one of the three quintessentially eminent American playwrights. Thomas Lanier Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi, on 26th March, 1911 and his southern upbringing was reflected in the subjects, often based on family members, that he chose to write about. He published his first short story at the age of sixteen and his first great Broadway success was The Glass Menagerie, starring Laurette Taylor that won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award in 1945 as the best play of the season.
Williams himself often commented on the violence in his own work, which to him seemed part of the human condition; he was conscious, also, of the violence in his plays. Critics who attacked the “excesses” of Williams’ work often were making thinly veiled assaults on his sexuality. Homosexuality was not discussed openly at that time but in Williams’ plays the themes of desire and isolation show, among other things, the influence of having grown up gay in a homophobic world.
A Streetcar Named Desire - Details on the two-disc special edition featured in this set can be found here.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof - The raw emotions and crackling dialogue of Tennessee Williams’ 1955 Pulitzer Prize play rumble like a thunderstorm in this film version whose fiery performances and grown-up themes made it one of 1958’s top box-office hits.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the story of a Southern family in crisis, focusing on the turbulent relationship between Maggie the Cat (Elizabeth Taylor) and Brick (Paul Newman), and their interaction with Brick’s family over the course of a weekend gathering at the family estate. Brick, an aging football hero, has neglected his wife and further infuriates her by ignoring his brother’s attempts to gain control of the family fortune. Although Big Daddy (Burl Ives) has cancer and will not celebrate another birthday, his doctors and his family have conspired to keep this information from him and his wife. His relatives are in attendance and attempt to present themselves in the best possible light, hoping to receive the definitive share of Big Daddy’s enormous wealth.
Unlike the R1 offering, no features have been confirmed for this R2 version.
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone - Widow Karen Stone is wealthy and beautiful. Her acting successes are a memory. She lives alone in a luxury apartment overlooking the Roman steps where romantic liaisons take place. And waits. She soon starts an affair with the young and expensive Paolo.
Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty are lady and lover in this tender adaptation of a Tennessee Williams novella directed by Broadway veteran Jose Quintero. Adding spice to the combustion of the two leads are Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Lotte Lenya as a Contessa who “arranges” romances in which she has a financial stake and Coral Browne as Karen’s savvy best friend.
- New featurette Mrs. Stone: Looking For Love In All The Dark Corners
- Theatrical trailer
Sweet Bird of Youth - Paul Newman, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Madeleine Sherwood and Ed Begley recreated their stage roles in this bravura film version which featured Shirley Knight. Begley won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Page and Knight were nominated. Sex, money, hypocrisy, financial and emotional blackmail are familiar elements in Williams’ literary realm and combine powerfully in Sweet Bird of Youth as Chance (Newman) battles his private demons in a desperate bid to redeem his wasted life and recapture his lost sweet bird of youth.
- New featurette Sweet Bird of Youth: Chasing Time
- Never-before-seen Geraldine Page and Rip Torn screen test
- Theatrical trailer
Night of the Iguana - With an outstanding cast headed by Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr, direction by legendary John Huston and a steamy screenplay, Night of the Iguana pulses with conflicting passions and a surprising edge of knowing humor. Winner of an Academy Award® and nominated for three more, the film explores the dark night of one man’s soul – and illuminates the difference between dreams and the bittersweet surrender to reality. Williams’ play was recently brought to the West End with Woody Harrelson in the lead role.
In a remote Mexican seacoast town, a defrocked Episcopal priest (Richard Burton), ruined by alcoholism and insanity, struggles to pull his shattered life together. And the three women in his life – an earthy hotel owner (Ava Gardner), an ethereal artist (Deborah Kerr) and a hot-eyed, willful teenager (Sue Lyons) – can help save him. Or destroy him.
Shot just south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the tension-filled shoot put that small city on the map. Due in no small part to the presence of non-cast member Elizabeth Taylor, the shooting of the film during 1963 attracted large numbers of paparazzi, made international headlines, and in turn made Puerto Vallarta world-famous.
- New featurette The Night of the Iguana: Dangerous Creatures
- Vintage featurette On the Trail of the Iguana
- Theatrical trailers