Tea and Sympathy

Tea and Sympathy

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Cast: Deborah Kerr, John Kerr, Leif Erickson

     
 

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1956's Tea and Sympathy is a diluted filmization of Robert Anderson's Broadway play. The original production was considered quite daring in its attitudes towards homosexuality (both actual and alleged) and marital infidelity; the film softpedals these elements, as much by adding to the text as by subtracting from it. John Kerr

Overview

1956's Tea and Sympathy is a diluted filmization of Robert Anderson's Broadway play. The original production was considered quite daring in its attitudes towards homosexuality (both actual and alleged) and marital infidelity; the film softpedals these elements, as much by adding to the text as by subtracting from it. John Kerr plays a sensitive college student who prefers the arts to sports; as such, he is ridiculed as a "sissy" by his classmates and hounded mercilessly by his macho-obsessed father Edward Andrews. Only student Darryl Hickman treats Kerr with any decency, perceiving that being different is not the same as being effeminate. Deborah Kerr, the wife of testosterone-driven housemaster Leif Erickson, likewise does her best to understand rather than condemn John for his "strangeness." Desperate to prove his manhood, John is about to visit town trollop Norma Crane. Though nothing really happens, the girl cries "rape!" Both John's father and Deborah's husband adopt a thick-eared "Boys will be boys" attitude, which only exacerbates John's insecurities. Feeling pity for John and at the same time resenting her own husband's boorishness, Deborah offers her own body to the mixed-up boy. "When you speak of this in future years...and you will...be kind." With this classic closing line, the original stage production of Tea and Sympathy came to an end. Fearing censorship interference, MGM insisted upon a stupid epilogue, indicating that Deborah Kerr deeply regretted her "wrong" behavior.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Plays and films that deal with daring subject matter tend not to age well. This is especially true of films; a play thought to be dated can be revived in a startling new production that sheds new light on it, but a film is frozen forever on celluloid, with all its flaws (and assets) intact. Tea and Sympathy was considered very bold in its day, commenting as it does on homosexuality, notions of masculinity and femininity, and the loneliness that can exist between two people in a typical marriage. Now, the topics are no longer fresh, which harms the film; however, Robert Anderson's skillful and sensitive writing manages to shine through the basic subject matter. Vincente Minnelli does a fine job, directing the actors to savor small and telling moments. He also allows a considerable amount of sexual tension into the film, something Minnelli tended to treat with kid gloves. The cast serves the material very well. Deborah Kerr was born to play the role, bringing essential warmth, generosity and sadness to the role. The audience aches as it watches her discovering truths about herself and her marriage that are difficult to take. John Kerr hits all the right notes as the misunderstood boy, and Leif Ericson is fine, if a bit overblown, as the husband. Not a classic, there's still a good deal to admire in Tea and Sympathy.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/18/2011
UPC:
0883316311080
Original Release:
1956
Source:
Warner Archives
Time:
2:02:00
Sales rank:
25,159

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Deborah Kerr Laura Reynolds
John Kerr Tom Robinson Lee
Leif Erickson Bill Reynolds
Edward Andrews Herb lee
Darryl Hickman Al
Norma Crane Ellie Martin
Dean Jones Ollie
Jacqueline De Wit Lilly Sears
Tom Laughlin Ralph
Ralph Votrian Steve
Steve Terrell Phil
Kip King Ted
Jimmy Hayes Henry
Richard Tyler Roger
Don Burnett Vic
Robert Alexander Pat
Paul Bryar Alex
Robert Ellis Boy
Del Erickson Ferdie
Sol (Saul) Gorss Actor
Harry Harvey Actor
Mary Ellen Hokanson Mary Williams
Byron Kane Umpire
Ron Kennedy Dick
Peter Leeds Headmaster at Bonfire
Peter Miller Pete
Dale Van Sickel Burly Man

Technical Credits
Vincente Minnelli Director
John Alton Cinematographer
Robert Anderson Screenwriter
Pandro S. Berman Producer
Edward C. Carfagno Art Director
Adolph Deutsch Score Composer
William Horning Art Director
Helen Rose Costumes/Costume Designer
Ferris Webster Editor

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