Suddenly, Last Summer

Feature Film USA 1959

This is a tribute to Gore Vidal, who died last July in Los Angeles. He wrote the script taken from the single act play by Tennessee Williams, who died thirty years ago. The regulations of the Motion Picture Production Code, abolished just two years later, forced Vidal to remove any reference to homosexuality from the text. In the end, this omission spread the fame of this film by Joseph Mankiewicz, about which there are many opinions, some considering it camp or kitsch. The "cynical-sentimental" director presents dramatic, dreamlike scenes that are visually exaggerated, in a decadent, obsessive melodrama. Much has been written about the figure of Sebastian: in a memorable and violent scene, he is massacred and cannibalized in Haiti (actually Capri) by a group of ferocious young boys he has picked up. Sebastian never appears in the film, but is only recalled. In gay essays by Vito Russo, he will become a metaphor of the invisible and faceless homosexual man, as Frankenstein was: the personification of evil, lost in vice, a perverted figure, a predestined victim. In the more unkind reviews of Liz Taylor's performance, she was called "the most stupid woman ever to become a victim of a homosexual."

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