Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This TV adaptation of Tennessee Williams' prize-winning play stars Robert Wagner as Brick, a college sports champion who hasn't made it in the real world, and Natalie Wood as Brick's wife Maggie, the sexually frustrated "cat" of the title. Brick and Maggie are staying at the home of Brick's wealthy parents, Big Daddy and Big Mama, as are Brick's successful brother Gooper and Gooper's eternally pregnant wife Mae. Big Daddy (Laurence Olivier) has been seriously ill, thus his offspring are concerned over the size of their inheritance. It has been hinted that Big Daddy will leave his fortune to Brick provided Maggie produces a child, but the marriage has been plagued by Brick's refusal to sleep with his wife, and by a dark secret in Brick's past life that has brought about impotence and alcoholism. The reason for Brick's insecurity is his past friendship with school buddy Skipper, a homosexual who'd committed suicide. Brick believes that Big Daddy is convinced that Brick and Skipper "had sodomy together", and Gooper delights in taunting Brick over this. Big Mama learns that Big Daddy has inoperable cancer, and determines to keep the truth from her husband. She also knows that Brick is Big Daddy's favorite son, thus rejects Gooper's cold-blooded attempts to set up a trusteeship for Big Daddy's estate. In the final scene, Maggie lies to Big Daddy that she is pregnant, and Big Daddy (unaware of his imminent doom) chooses to believe her. Brick will get the estate, and Maggie will hopefully convince her husband to makes theirs a "real" marriage. A made-for-TV production, the 1976 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is more sexually explicit than the censor-ridden 1958 Hollywood version, but isn't quite as strong dramatically despite its powerhouse cast.
cancer, terminal-illness, alcoholism, family, impotence [sexual], inheritance, sexual-frustration, wife