The big-screen adaptation of the play was made in 1958 by MGM, and starred Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Judith Anderson, and Jack Carson, with Burl Ives and Madeleine Sherwood reprising their stage roles. The Hays Code limited Brick's portrayal of sexual desire for Skipper, and diminished the original play's critique of homophobia and sexism. Williams was reportedly unhappy with the screenplay, which removed almost all of the homosexual themes and revised the third act section to include a lengthy scene of reconciliation between Brick and Big Daddy. Paul Newman, the film's star, had also stated his disappointment with the adaptation. Despite this, the film was highly acclaimed and was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman both received Oscar nominations for their performances. Most critics agreed that the film provided both them and Burl Ives with their finest screen roles up to that time. Cat may have been too controversial for the Academy voters; the film won no Oscars, and the Best Picture award went to Gigi that year.
In 1976, a television version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was produced, starring the then husband-and-wife team of Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, and featuring Laurence Olivier as Big Daddy and Maureen Stapleton as Big Mama. Many concluded it was a superlative version of the play.
In 1984 a television version was produced by American Playhouse, starring Jessica Lange, Tommy Lee Jones, Rip Torn, Kim Stanley, David Dukes, and Penny Fuller. This adaptation, directed by Jack Hofsiss, revived the sexual innuendos which had been muted in the 1958 film. Both Stanley and Fuller were nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special, and Stanley went on to win. It was a reunion of sorts for Stanley and Lange, who received Oscar nominations for playing mother and daughter in 1982's Frances.