Along with a July 4th visit to Jaws’ Amity Island, this is probably the worst summer vacation ever. In this Tennessee Williams Southern Gothic, Catherine (Elizabeth Taylor) returns from her trip to Spain so traumatized that aunt Violet (Katharine Hepburn) considers having her lobotomized. Especially since that will prevent her from divulging what really became of her cousin Sebastian, Violet’s son.
Montgomery Clift (returning to work after his disfiguring 1956 car accident near Taylor’s home) is the sympathetic shrink who tries to coax the true story out of Catherine. The ultimate unburdening of the secret is so grotesque that it unhinges even Aunt Violet. It’s still a pretty shocking story today, less for its candid acknowledgement of Sebastian’s homosexuality than for the horrific karmic price he pays for his frankness.