Tennessee Williams Hub

Gay Cinema Touchstones: Suddenly Last Summer

Suddenly Last Summer... "The one they're all talking about!"


Have you seen the classic queer cinema documentary The Celluloid Closet recently? Whenever I see an older film with gay content I find myself reflexively referencing that documentary. Did they cover it? If they didn’t could it fit easily into the historical narrative they mapped out there? I know that Suddenly Last Summer (1959) is referenced, but I can’t begin to recall in what context or which clip was shown. The film has a dark stickiness to it that is hard to shake for days afterwards and I’ve just rewatched it last week so I’m still in its swampy hot presence.

In high school English I became totally smitten with the Tennessee Williams classics. This worried my mother because she picked up on everything gay long before I did though she was too religious to ever name that unspeakable concern. (She gave me the same look when I fell hard for Cabaret though the most she would say by way of explanation was that it was “disgusting”). Hollywood as an industry is perhaps a little more akin to a frightened parent than their gay child; Showbiz loved, nurtured and produced endless gaybies but always had issues with their gayness!


Liz dreams of beautiful men "Blondes were next on the menu"

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Zachary Quinto Does Tennessee Williams: VIDEO


Zachary Quinto delivers a monologue as his character Tom Wingfield in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, now playing on Broadway, for the NYT 'In Performance' series.


Naveen's review of the play is HERE.

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‘The Glass Menagerie’ Starring Zachary Quinto and Cherry Jones Opens On Broadway: REVIEW

GM 1 


Director John Tiffany’s stylish and superbly acted revival of The Glass Menagerie opened on Broadway last week at the Booth Theatre. Arriving on Broadway after a critically acclaimed run at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, the production is at once faithful to Tennessee Williams’ specific ideas about how the play ought to be performed, and unmistakably revelatory.

GM 3The 1944 work that launched Williams’ career is a not so thinly veiled autobiographical account with parallels to his own family life, which the writer deems a ‘memory play.’ Tom (played here by Zachary Quinto) acts as narrator, looking back on memories of his somewhat delusional and heartily overbearing mother Amanda (Cherry Jones), and physically impaired, isolated sister Laura (Celia Keenan-Bolger).

Cooped up together in a middle-class tenement of St. Louis during the height of the Great Depression, the Wingfield family inches by on Tom’s warehouse salary, their father having left when the children were young. Amanda’s nostalgia for her glory days as a Southern belle blends with her aspirations for her daughter Laura, so painfully shy that her prospects for finding either a job or a husband to support her seem dire. 

In his production notes for the play, Williams writes: “Expressionism and all other unconventional techniques in drama have only one valid aim, and that is a closer approach to truth.” Tiffany’s use of stylized movement and other carefully conceived ‘unconventional’ elements is both imaginative and precise. Taken together, the overall effect is an evocation of memories so far removed and yet immediate that the play feels like a vivid dream—with emotional truth never far from the surface. 

GM 4With a softly lilting Southern cadence, Quinto brings out the poetry in Williams’ language to captivating effect. As a son (and grown man) looking back on loved ones he left behind and alternately reliving his past, Quinto registers a rich spectrum of regret, restlessness, filial affection, and an unspoken, deeply disguised longing. A frustrated poet widely accepted as a stand-in for Williams, Tom's buried desire is often interpreted as homosexual, as it is quite subtly here.

With her performance as Amanda, Ms. Jones demonstrates why she is rightfully among the most celebrated stage actors of her (or really, anyone’s) generation. By turns tender and smothering, pragmatic and delusional, and garrulous without turning shrill—her Amanda quite viscerally inspires the same complex gambit of emotions with which anyone who has a mother is familiar.   

Amanda’s assessment of her daughter, that “still water runs deep,” may never have seemed more true. Ms. Keenan-Bolger’s careful, heartfelt performance as Laura hints at the elaborate emotional turmoil swirling underneath her surface stillness. It’s a metaphor that encompasses Tiffany’s production, itself set on a small collection of rooms surrounded by dark waters—a family marooned. 

GM 2Brian J. Smith is likewise excellent as Jim, the long awaited Gentleman Caller. In the hands of Smith and Keenan-Bolger, the oft-rehearsed courtship between Jim and Laura feels fresh and alive, with an enchanting chemistry that makes the play’s conclusion that much more moving.

Joining Tiffany is the creative team with whom he also collaborated on the Tony Award winning musical Once (with many taking home individual awards), including movement director Steven Hoggett, designers Natasha Katz (lighting), Clive Goodwin (sound), and Bob Crowley (scenic and costume). Together with a supremely talented company, they deliver a haunting and extraordinary revival that’s sure to become a benchmark for future productions.

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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: michael j. lutch)

First Look: Joe Manganiello Bares Arms in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'


Broadway.com has got a first look at photos from the Yale Repertory Theatre's production of A Streetcar Named Desire including this smoldering shot of Joe Manganiello as the iconic factory parts salesman Stanley Kowalski.

If you missed the clip of Manganiello performing a monologue from the film that I posted the other day, you can check it out HERE.

(photo by Carol Rosegg)

Joe Manganiello Gets in Your Face with His Clean-Shaven Face: VIDEO


Joe Manganiello summons some blistering intensity for a one-minute Stanley Kowalski monologue from Tennessee Williams classic play A Streetcar Named Desire, for the NYT 'In Performance' video series. How'd he do?


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Zachary Quinto's Backstage Pics from 'The Glass Menagerie': PHOTOS


The revival of Tennessee Williams play The Glass Menagerie starts previews tonight on Broadway, and Zachary Quinto, who plays Tom Wingfield in the play, has been Instagram-ing a few backstage photos of himself with the cast, Cherry Jones, and Celia Keenan-Bolger.

Wrote Quinto of the above photo: "face to face with tom and laura. @celiakb @menageriebwy". And of the one below: "last time for empty seats. @menageriebwy"



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