Elizabeth Taylor proceeded with filming even though her husband Michael Todd was killed in a plane crash on the same day the film began shooting.
George Cukor turned down MGM's offer to direct the film because the references to Brick's homosexuality had been removed.
Burl Ives and Madeleine Sherwood repeated the roles they had originated on Broadway in the 1955 production directed by Elia Kazan. (Ben Gazzara played Brick and Barbara Bel Geddes played Maggie the Cat in that version.)
Don Murray was considered for role of Brick.
Tennessee Williams wrote the role of Big Daddy with Burl Ives in mind. Prior to the original stage production, Ives was known primarily as a folk singer, and many within the theatre community question Williams' decision. Ives won rave reviews in the role on both stage and screen, and went on to a long and prestigious acting career.
Ben Gazzara, who originated the role of Brick on Broadway, turned down the role for the film version.
Although Elia Kazan directed "Cat" on Broadway, he was not involved in the film, despite having two cinematic successes with Tennessee Williams work A Streetcar Named Desire and Baby Doll. Kazan had had trouble with Williams, demanding that he rewrite the third act of the play to bring Big Daddy back on stage. He also was tired of having critics call him a "co-author" of Williams work, which he knew he was not. He would eventually direct one more Williams play on Broadway, Sweet Bird of Youth, but that film also would be directed by Richard Brooks.
Big Daddy Burl Ives was only one year older than Jack Carson, who plays his eldest son, and 16 years older than Paul Newman, who played his youngest.
Due to a musicians union strike, the movie lacks a traditional musical score composed especially for the picture. Instead, a "canned" score, comprised of pre-recorded pieces from the MGM music library, is used. Most of this music, including the evocative main theme, was originally composed by André Previn for MGM's Tension.
One of the top ten box office hits of 1958.
Playwright Tennessee Williams so disliked this adaptation that he told people in the queue "This movie will set the industry back 50 years. Go home!"
The original stage play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" by Tennessee Williams premiered at the Morosco Theater in New York on March 24, 1955 and ran for 694 performances. It was nominated for the 1956 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play. Elia Kazan directed the production, and amongst the replacement cast members during its long run was Jack Lord as "Brick".
The play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1955.
The references to homosexuality in the original play were removed from the screenplay to comply with the Hollywood Production Code.
This film was originally to be filmed in black and white, as was the standard practice with "artistic" films in the 1950s. (Virtually all film adaptations of the plays of Tennessee Williams had been in B&W up to that time.) However, once Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor were cast in the leads, director Richard Brooks insisted on shooting in color, in deference to the public's well known enthusiasm for Taylor's violet and Newman's strikingly blue eyes.
When Paul Newman agreed to play the role of Brick, he was under the impression the film would simply adapt the original script into a screenplay. When the screenplay deviated wildly from the stage text over Tennessee Williams' objections, Newman expressed his disappointment.