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Tennessee Williams Movies & TV

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Usually we don't hype film adaptations of literary works as much as their textual forebear. Plays, however, are written to be performed, and seeing Williams's words come alive onscreen is even closer to the experience he wanted you to have than just reading them. The 1950s film adaptations of his books are some of the greatest American movies, and this one is no exception. See the performance that made Marlon Brando a star. STELLA!

The Rose Tattoo (1955)

The tagline is "Lusty… Rousing… Startling" and we can't do better than that to describe this film about a failed art smuggling attempt. (Question: Why don't they write good movie taglines anymore?) Fun fact: Williams's actual home in Key West, Florida, appears as part of the scenery during the film.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

1950s hotties Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor star in this film about a Southern family that is falling apart. After injuring his ankle, Brick Pollitt (Newman) decides to spend his father's birthday drinking alone and fending off his randy wife (Taylor). Oh, and the father is dying of cancer and no one wants to tell him. Great movie.

Suddenly Last Summer (1959)

The only son of Violet Venable (the venerable Katherine Hepburn) dies while on vacation with his cousin (Elizabeth Taylor, again) in a manner so horrible Liz that loses her mind as a result. When Liz starts dropping hints about the cause of her cousin's murder—he was gay, and beaten to death for it—Mrs. Venable tries to have her lobotomized.

Summer and Smoke (1961)

This is a great performance of one of Williams's lesser-known plays. A repressed spinster falls in love with the local rebel? Sign us up. Like many of the original film adaptations of plays by Williams, it was nominated for a boatload of Oscars and won several.

The Night of the Iguana (1964)

Hollywood heavies like Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr star in this film about a former preacher who leads a group of women of the Mexican coast. The original poster tagline was, "Man And Woman—Love And Lust—Ruin And Redemption—One Night They All Meet." What more do you need to know?

The Glass Menagerie (1987)

This is the most autobiographical of Williams's plays. The story of a domineering mother, a mentally absent daughter, and a furious son was drawn from his own immediate family. John Malkovich plays Tom and Joanne Woodward is his mother Amanda Wingfield.

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