I loved everything about this movie. To start with, there is incredible acting from Katherine Hepburn, Mercedes McCambridge, Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. The movie opens with Montgomery Clift, as a psychiatrist and neurosurgeon, performing a lobotomy in a state hospital. A lot of the movie takes place inside the walls of a state psychiatric hospital, and that theme was titillating during that time in history. The movie was supposed to take place in 1937, but the movie was made in 1959. It was just 3 years later, in 1962, that Kennedy was in office, and that the U.S. closed all the state run psychiatric facilities in the real world. There was a lot of interest within the public about what went on behind the walls of "mental hospitals". There was a lot of interest in Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift romantically, and rumors about Clift's homosexuality. Put all this together with the plot of the movie, and you have a huge audience. It was unbelievably easy to rent through Amazon. The movie was on my computer in less than 30 seconds.
I remember being a child when the movie came out and hearing adults whispering about the movie. Of course, my curiosity was peaked. I would ask my mom over and over to tell me what the movie was about - what everyone was talking about. I never really found out all the angles. When I rented this movie, I watched it three times back to back, absorbing every sentence, every nuance by the cast.
I still can't believe that the movie made it through censorship. I read that the cast was not allowed to say "homosexuality" and not refer to it during the filming. The first time I saw the movie, in my twenties, I really didn't understand it. I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. This is a great movie for today's audiences. It was ahead of it's time. Watching it recently, I was at the edge of my seat. It won't appeal to everyone. I was a nursing student when I got part of my psychiatric clinical experience in a similar institution in Canada. I know those places existed. There were patients there who had lobotomies. For me,the movie has everything, wrapped up in one production. It's still controversial....and it's an extraordinary piece of film.