Although the film version of Robert Anderson's play eliminated the crucial gay element , thereby making this another toothless version of a more honest stage production (Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is another excellent example) , Vincent Minnelli's film somehow is able to fill in the blanks, albeit in a very veiled way. Hobbled by a truncated screenplay that fails to court controversy, the movie of Tea and Sympathy nevertheless is a fascinating thing to watch and achingly sad for anyone who can identify with growing up gay in the 1950s. This is a landmark film that, despite its clumsy presentation, still delivers a knockout punch as a time capsule of bigotry and the palpable sense of loneliness and compassion the viewer is left with after watching the moving performances of Deborah Kerr and John Kerr.
Tea and Sympathy
Time Out saysFilming The Servant with Harold Pinter, Losey could treat the homosexual relationship between master and manservant with both visual élan and verbal acuity. Minnelli was less lucky. Robert Anderson's sensitive if fancifully written play, about a housemaster's wife coaxing a pupil out of latent tendencies, was weakened to such a degree through the combined forces of censorship and CinemaScope that the tendencies threatened to disappear completely. Which can hardly be said for the students' garish shirts and pullovers, the phony exterior sets, or the gleaming '50s automobiles - all on constant parade. Yet the film's details - indeed, its very timidity - still ensure fascinating viewing.