Looking for a benchmark in movie acting? Breakthrough performances don't come much more electrifying than Marlon Brando's animalistic turn as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. Sweaty, brutish, mumbling, yet with the balanced grace of a prizefighter, Brando storms through the role--a role he had originated in the Broadway production of Tennessee Williams's celebrated play. Stanley and his wife, Stella (as in Brando's oft-mimicked line, "Hey, Stellaaaaaa!"), are the earthy couple in New Orleans's French Quarter whose lives are upended by the arrival of Stella's sister, Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh). Blanche, a disturbed, lyrical, faded Southern belle, is immediately drawn into a battle of wills with Stanley, beautifully captured in the differing styles of the two actors. This extraordinarily fine adaptation won acting Oscars for Leigh, Kim Hunter (as Stella), and Karl Malden (as Blanche's clueless suitor), but not for Brando. Although it had already been considerably cleaned up from the daringly adult stage play, director Elia Kazan was forced to trim a few of the franker scenes he had shot. In 1993, Streetcar was rereleased in a "director's cut" that restored these moments, deepening a film that had already secured its place as an essential American work. --Robert Horton
Leigh is brilliant! At the outset, I have to say that I never had a particular interest in reading or seeing this play. Sadly this is due to the various interpretations I have heard or read over the years concerning the Blanche DuBois character. For me, the interpretations formed preconceived notions which encouraged me to avoid this play like a plague. The idea of encountering another frail, southern belle, losing her mind and descending into madness, simply did not intrigue me. Hearing Lange's own commentary on the mindset of Blanche DuBois, sadly made me even less inclined to explore this story.
Consequently, upon watching this film, I cannot adequately express my shock at what a brilliant piece of theater this play is. Let's be honest, Vivien Leigh? Marlon Brando? does it get better? Please! How anyone can even attempt to criticize is beyond me. In my mind Jessica Lange and Jessica Tandy are lacking in that they do not have Leigh's extraordinary beauty, a quality which I felt essential to the story.
Since I see that everyone else offers an interpretation, I'll offer mine too....Although this may differ with some other interpretations,I consider Blanche to be the strongest character in the play, as opposed to being the weakest. She has the purest understanding of reality, as happiness and love being elusive and abstract thus making them eternal and true. We are only happy when we are wanting and striving for the ideal. Blanche is fully aware of the illusion and of the necessity of illusion as the means to greater realization.
Blanche, as her name suggests, embodies a medieval concept of the chase and the search, the white hind in the forest which tempts the knight as he is described in the "Lais of Marie de France" or the novels of Chretien de Troyes.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Stanley, who, in my view, is ironically not the strongest character in the piece. He merely serves to challenge Blanche, thus creating a modern manifestation of the biblical battle between good and evil. He is drawn to her due to her purity of purpose and understanding, her goodness. He knows how strong she is, and he is relentless. He plays on his own wife, challenging what is "real," and she succumbs to his tyranny, whereas he knows that Blanche will not. He, as in the biblical "Fall," cannot undermine her strength, her vision. The fight between Stanley and Blanche is electrifying. I felt that they were two powerful gods at war. (When Leigh smashes that bottle and stares Brando down, you will have chills. Come hell or high water, he is not going to defeat her, and he knows it. He is the veritable moth to the flame.)
There is a lot of talk that Stanley shatters Blanche's frail world in the classic rape scene. In accordance, with my own humble interpretation :) he does no such thing. Desire is merely human, and for that matter, it is common. It's the opposite of death and it is, again, human. It is tangible, and it is an essential component of love. Nevertheless, love cannot be defined only by the tangible, and those who can only believe what they can see or touch are lost. Love, in its highest sense, is not tangible; faith is not tangible. Consequently, Blanche has no fear of sexuality or sensuality. They are necessary. She merely feels that we are weighted down by the flesh and that it is incumbent upon the soul to find a higher level, to transcend in order to complete the circle. We need the physical to live, but we also need the spiritual to endure, to remain eternally beautiful. Purity is internal, and it is only achieved on another more abstract plane.
Therefore, ironically, in my mind, Blanche wins in the end. Being led to the institution, on her doctor's gallant arm, she leaves the rabble to play in the dirt, the weak to wail and cry and die in degenration, never knowing true love, never "seeing God" (for lack of a better phrase.) Stanley and the others are ultimately lost.
Ultimately (if you have made it though my long windedness) watch the Brando and Leigh version of Streetcar. They are magnificent, and you will not be disappointed!...more info
This film is truly desirous... Considered by many to be one of the great American staples; `A Streetcar Named Desire' is in all honestly one of the greatest films of all time. It truly lives up to the hype and delivers one of the most satisfying and gratifying cinematic experiences anyone can wish for. With dynamic acting, solid writing and daring direction, `A Streetcar Named Desire' is truly desirous.
The film tells of the conflict between disturbed Southern Belle Blanche DuBois and the simple yet brutish Stanley Kowalski. When Blanche travels to see her sister Stella she never imagined the trouble she would not only cause but ultimately find herself in. She immediately begins to butt heads with Stella's husband Stanley, their ideals and personalities at complete opposite ends, but she attempts to make things work, for as long as she can. The film does a marvelous job of depiction a true loss of one's grasp of reality as we see Blanche and everyone around her sucked into a loss of hope. Blanche arrives at her sister's New Orleans doorstep after losing her home (their childhood home) under circumstances that Blanche is not quick to relay. Blanche seems to be placing up a fa?ade to hide a past she is most ashamed of, but what sort of woman is she really? Stanley, determined to deliver a reality check to everyone, searches out the truth despite the harm it may cause (it can be stated that Stanley receives the biggest `reality check' of all).
The film dramatically and effectively approaches these characters with a stark realism that makes their every movement and action all the more poignant.
I adore films of this nature, as many who read my reviews already know, for it delivers an emotional shock to the soul, and those connections make me feel invested in a film. `A Streetcar Named Desire' is quite frankly one of the best examples of brutal honesty captured on film. There is no sugarcoating here, none whatsoever. Everything is stripped bare and delivered in a frank yet morally ambiguous nature; so much so that we become a major player in the films unraveling.
And then there is the acting; tour de force across the board.
Let's get the easy out of the way. Kim Hunter and Karl Malden both deserved the Oscar's they won for their wonderful supporting turns here, adding layers with each scene to their characters but also to the leads as well. Hunter is flawless as Stella, giving her a naivety that beautifully centers her character, grounds her into her surroundings and into our hearts. That smoldering descent down the staircase is probably the single best scene in the film and makes for the one of the steamiest and most passionate scenes in cinema; ever. Malden is also effortlessly captivating as Mitch, the clueless suitor who finds a light in Blanche that others cannot see. His desire to have that someone is so passionate that when Stanley snuffs out that passion we are heartbroken; betrayed even.
What is so wonderful about the casting of Vivian Leigh and Marlon Brando is that their styles are so distinct that they complement the very conflict erupting within their characters. Leigh is a very mannered actress who mirrors the actresses best suited for the stage. The fact that this is a stage play adaptation works in her favor. She reminds me of Julianne Moore in her delivery. One could say that she appears to be acting, and in this case it works brilliantly. Marlon Brando is a much more natural actor, his delivery appearing fluid and relaxed. He's far less controlled or restrictive in his performance. You can liken him to Russell Crowe. When these two actors share the screen it is such a blessing, watching them battle one another in more than one way. It is the definition of inspired casting, and watching these two performance work to outdo one another is a treat to the viewer.
The fact that Brando is the only actor in the bunch to lose the Oscar is a shame, since he was by far the best performer here.
In the end I will wholeheartedly recommend this masterpiece of a film. It gets better and better every time I watch it, and truth be told it is truly one of the best films to ever be labeled the best of anything. Sporting one of the greatest ensemble casts, one of the most powerfully riveting scripts and some of the most inspired direction of it's time and any other, `A Streetcar Named Desire' is a knockout on all levels and deserves to be rendered as such....more info
Emotional human drama in post war New Orleans Elia Kazan's marvelous adaptation of Tennessee Williams award winning play is enhanced with some truly impeccable acting performances. Amazingly Marlon Brando who cemented his place in cinematic history with his portrayal of the brutish, volatile and sensual lout Stanley Kowalski was the only main player denied an Academy Award. Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter all garnered Oscars for their roles.
Leigh playing neurotic and fading Southern belle Blanche Dubois arrives in New Orleans complete with her fragile disposition to stay with her nurturing sister Stella played by Kim Hunter in the seedy French Quarter of New Orleans. Blanche hiding a sordid past had been run out of Laurel, Mississippi, fired from her teaching position for having an affair with a 17 year old boy.
Blanche received a warm reception from Stella but then Stanley enters the scene. Brando's hackles are immediately raised when he learned than Blanche had mortgaged the family estate Belle Reve and frittered away the proceeds depriving Stella of her share. Although Stella and Stanley had an often violent relationship they were deeply in love. The inevitable clash between the coarse Stanley and the genteel Blanche drove a wedge into their relationship creating major histrionics.
Blanche desperately wanted to start her life anew and Stanley's buddy Mitch played by Karl Malden had potential to be her life preserver and possible husband. Stanley however informed Mitch of Blanche's shady past and those plans became aborted.
The inevitable climax occurred when the pregnant Stella rushed to the hospital to deliver leaving Stanley and Blanche alone in their tiny apartment. Stanley being Stanley successfully pushed Blanche over the edge with his actions, reducing her to a delusional shell of herself and needing to be institutionalized.
Kazan's choice of the sordid settings of the Kowalski's apartment certainly magnified the fall from grace suffered by the psychologically fragile Blanche. The curious choice of the name of the apartment Elysian Fields, the mythical resting place for the blameless dead, provided foreshadowing for the drama that was to unfold. The legendary acting performances chronicling a myriad of, at times, dysfunctional interpersonal relationships were an impressive sight to behold, richly deserving of all the accolades....more info
Tourtured Souls This is a movie about tourtured souls and lose. Stanley is a man who just wants to be left alone and then Blance enters the picture and convinces his wife that he is a bad man. All he is is a tourtured soul. This is a must see movie....more info
From Sensuality to Neurosis The fim version of the play is absolutely outstanding. It completely and fullheartedly deserves the Awards it got, and by far. Marlon Brandon is fascinating as an animal of violence and desire, and Vivien Leigh is an astonishing embodiment of a fallen southern belle who tries to escape her lost past and cannot, turning her obsession about her past of failure into an absolute neurotic inability to accept change in the world. The use of music is quite convincing to signal the shifts from the present experience to the recollections of the past mistakes and guilt. The violence and the sensuality of the present are always striking and powerful. It is moving and cruel, emotional and mind-raking, sensual and frightening. Desire, the desire to be in complete osmosis with another human being, is beautifully depicted and enacted by the dialogue, the acting and the physical rendering of the feelings, the fears, the hopes, the deceptions of the characters. But the ending is changed and the meaning of the film is different from that of the book. From the triumph of sensual and sexual desire, from the necessary destruction and institutionalization of Blanche in order for life and its desires to survive and live on, like a show that has to go on, we shift to an opening in Stella that could lead to more independance and autonomy for her, for women. But this opening is ambiguous since it can only come from a distanciation from desire in the objective realization of it, that is to say the baby. When the baby is born, when desire has produced its fruit, women can move on to a higher level and men can be pushed back into a more refrained and cultured attitude. Can they? Maybe. At least they may, in a long process that is foretold in this ending, at the end of this film. We can wonder whether it is a way to satisfy the demands of Hollywood for a film that can reach the wide public (and the three odd minutes that were cut off in 1951 go that way), or it is a sign in Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan that new social evolutions were entering the wider social picture. That we cannot know for sure. But this film shows how a ten or twenty second change at the end can change the meaning of the play and can open completely different vistas in our consciousness.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Perpignan...more info
Marlon's accent????? What happened????? As a southern girl I love all movies made about the South but this is supposed to be New Orleans and everybody sounds like they are from New Jersey. Marlon Brando doesn't even attempt an accent. Which annoyed me!Vivian's performance is very convincing and you will want to slap her throughout the movie for being such a weakling. At the time she was mentally ill which probably adds to her performance . Her husband thought playing Blanche onstage for 8 months would help her illness..... I know it's funny....more info
overrated?? Its funny how everyone defends the movie with the "because of the play" mentality. I did not know about Blanche's relationship with her husband which led to her downfall prior to viewing the movie so I had to judge it on its own merit. Obliviously this movie is well written, acted, directed. But there are holes in characterizations and plot which make it lacking complete coherency.
As usual, I judge a movie in the context of its genre. It seems people award 4 and 5 stars out of nostalgia and "because of the play". Since I the viewer really cant understand Blanche's inner demon very well which at times is an annoyance 3 stars. Also, the play's lovers speak of how the ending is different, which after listening makes more sense in the than the movie's ending. There are way more movie drama's with more profound story lines and deeper characterization out there....more info
A Streetcar Named Desire Brando's force-of-nature performance in Kazan's "Streetcar"--an electrifying mix of brute physicality and smoldering sexuality--made Stanley Kowalski's infamous bellow a permanent part of pop culture and Brando a household name. But the undeniable strength of this film, adapted from the smash Broadway play by Tennessee Williams, is driven as much by the witty, vivid dialogue and ensemble acting as it is the lead actor's Method work. Leigh, Hunter, Karl Malden, Ruby Bond, and Nick Dennis are all terrific, and Alex North's atmospheric jazz score enhances the tense, combustible interplay. Winner of five Oscars, this "Streetcar" offers an incredible ride....more info
Intense and Sexy This is a perfect date movie. It is intense, sexy, and packed with intellectual and emotional whallop. The actors are interesting and beautiful to look at, and the subject matter is mature and provoacative. It is the perfect setup for getting to know someone better, and a great warm-up for intimate activities to follow, or for super-intense action like you get when you put into practice the teachings of the "New Sex Now" dvd.
God bless you Marlon, you were a true subtle hunk!...more info
Explosive The seamy, hot nights of New Orleans with the rattle trap streetcar thundering along outside the apartment blocks represent the superb setting for this tight, ensemble class to deliver their superb perfomances.
The film resembles the stage play, with the ensemble cast acting out a drama of passion and class, that encompasses the great human themes of frailty and facade.
Marlon Brando is dynamite in his famous role as the brutish, alpha male Stanley which had women fainting in cinemas in the 1950s, and ever since.
Blanche favors the light. A Streetcar Named Desire is a rare film, no don't make movies like this anymore. It's based on a Tennessee Williams play of the same name, I have always enjoyed the screen adapations to his intense plays. Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Vivien Leigh, and Karl Malden are smoldering together. All four actors are extremely talented and Leigh's performance as aging southern belle, Blanche Du Bois is so heartbreaking and real. I highly recommend this timeless black & white classic!...more info
The Kindness of Strangers "A Streetcar Named Desire"
The Kindness of Strangers
Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride
I have wanted to review this film for a long time and now that I am on vacation, I decided it was time for a New Orleans guy to try to have his say. I recently brought home the wonderful seven volume DVD set of "The Tennessee Williams Film Collection" and have been working my way through reacquainting myself with some of the greatest films ever made. I knew Williams when I lived in Louisiana and followed his career the best I could ad I must say that "Streetcar" is a masterpiece.
Set in the French Quarter of New Orleans during the years following WW II, "A Streetcar Named Desire" is the story of Blanche DuBois, a neurotic and fragile woman who is searching for a place in the world that she can call her own. Her past is not pretty--she has been exiled from her hometown for seducing a 17 year old student at the school where she taught. He suddenly appears at the home of her sister Stella and her husband Stanley stating that she is suffering from exhaustion. She has been beleaguered by financial calamities but Stanley is suspicious since some of the money that is gone also belongs to his wife and therefore himself. Stanley is a brute of a man and a panther. When he demands to see the bill of sale for the family plantation, Belle Reve, he defines his relationship with Blanche. They are in opposing camps and Stella is caught between the love of her sister and the love of her husband. When Blanche tries to help improve their relations, the animal in Stanley emerges and he is enraged. He deeply loves his wife but he is mystified by Blanche and is determined to teach her a lesson.
Blanche sees a way out of her troubles when she meets Mitch, a card playing pal of Stanley. Mitch reveres her but the rumors of her past begin to catch up to her and everything falls apart for Blanche.
The cast of the film is absolutely magic. Kim Hunter is Stella and she is magnificent. She is strong even though she is financially, sexually and emotionally tied to her husband and Stanley is somewhat emotionally dependent upon her. Stanley's performance is one of the best supporting roles ever seen on the screen and she acts with every nuance of her mid and body.
Vivien Leigh is a total revelation. When she spoke, I was mystified. She is a victim but everything but innocent. She charms, she touches, and she emotes with a wonderful presence. The sexual attraction between her ad Marlon Brando as Stanley is quite noticeable and despite all of her lies ad deceptions, I was drawn to her. She is the human condition--she is hidden ugliness from the past and emotional and sexual neediness as well as ordinary human weakness. Leigh's performance is brilliant but we must remember that it is the author who created the character. It is, however, Vivien Leigh who gives it life.
Brando as Stanley is magnificent with his breakthrough performance. His performance is without fault but this is Leigh's movie. Her Blanche is profound as she clings to a very flimsy fa?ade of respectability. When Leigh says she "wants magic" it is a cry from the very depth of the actress's feeling and when she says she has always "depended on the kindness of strangers', we want to hold out her hands and hearts to her.
The writing is some of the finest we have ever seen--the characters are beautifully written and their story s dutifully told. Their complexities are written into them but with subtlety so that they are never obvious or uninteresting.
Elia Kazan directed with a caution heretofore unseen on the screen. How he managed to get this movie made in the early 1950's is a mystery but we should be so thankful that he did. Of course, the homosexual subplot was played down but it is graphic in its violence to women and animal sexuality. It is a compelling movie because the characters are compelling and the way we see them. The film feels humid helping to play up the sexuality therein. The entire atmosphere is wonderful and mesmerizing.
"A Streetcar Named Desire" is nothing short of a great film in which everything works. It was a superb play which successfully made the transition to the screen because of a marvelous cast and outstanding direction. There is not much that I can say that has not been said already over and over again. Let it suffice for me to say, yet once again, that "Streetcar" is magnificent in every aspect and is a landmark film in the world of cinema.
The need to be desired personified... Desire is a streetcar that brings Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) to the French Quarters of New Orleans where her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), lives with her husband, Stanley (Marlon Brando). This is Blanche's last resort for help as she has faced numerous hardships such as loosing her parents, her job as a teacher, and an undisclosed secret. These difficulties have left deep scares in Blanche's psyche and left her in a fragile state with neurosis and delusions. Stanley is unwilling to let Blanche stay, but Stella convinces Stanley to let Blanche stay temporally. However, Stanley's unwillingness to help grows to hostility and begins to affect Blanche as she discovers the true nature of Stanley. Streetcar Named Desire is a psychological dramatization based on Tennessee Williams's play with the same name that was adapted to the silver screen. Kazan did a brilliant job in directing the film and the cast performed splendidly with extremely strong performances by Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. The cinematography and mise-en-scene are excellent as it leaves the audience with a brilliant cinematic experience that provides much room for thought as Blanche deals with her inner struggles....more info
Not Delivered This DVD was not delivered. The merchant stated that it was "out of stock." Another DVD of my selection, EL CID, was sent to me and was of a superior quality....more info
Magnificent Interpretation Elia Kazan's "Streetcar Named Desire" is a wonderful interpretation of William's classic play. Like many of Tennessee William's plays "Streetcar" depicts the moral ruination of the post-civil war South. Blanche Dubois, in particular, is tragic and represents a "belle idee" gone hopelessly wrong. We learn how she has tried but failed to hold the old family home and honor intact. As a school teacher in Oriole, Mississippi she has failed in the most terrible way possible. She has not only prostituted herself but has seduced young school-age boys. As a consequence, despite her faded aristocracy, she has been run out of town and wound up on the doorstep of her sister, a woman quite content to reach for the gutter.
Her Pollack brother-in-law, played by Marlon Brando, is so miserable that he's great. He takes every opportunity to insult his freeloading sister-in-law and--with his wife in the hospital having a baby--he plumbs the depths of his own depravity and rapes the frightened and increasingly confused Blanche.
Blanche, who had a fleeting opportunity to marry the naive Karl Maldon, sees her opportunity torn away from her when Maldon learns the black truth of her Oriole history. Blanche retreats into madness. She finally meets her aristocratic savior in the form of an elderly physician who arrives to take her to a mental institution. "No one", as Ray Charles sang, "is saved." The film is beautiful in its horror.
Ron Braithwaite author of novels--"Skull Rack" and "Hummingbird God"--on the Spanish Conquest of Mexico ...more info
True to Tennessee! I'll keep it very simple! I'm a southern lit. freak and am often fairly critical of film adaptations of the classics, which tend to portray characters as one-dimensional beings. However, the Leigh-Brando adaptation of "Streetcar" is mesmerizing, and in my opinion, true to the intent of brilliant southern playwright Tennessee Williams, wonderfully depicting both the internal and external collide of two worlds--the idyllic and the realistic--and how one cannot flourish unless the other falters. Those who love southern literature as I do may find it interesting to compare and contrast the character development of Blanche to similar "fallen" Southern belles such as Mitchell's Scarlett O'Hara and Faulkner's Temple Drake. Overall, this film is a must for any Williams fan! ...more info
Stunning I continue to be impressed by young Brando. I grew up hearing how much an acting genius Brando was in his hey day and I thought for the most part he was over-rated. Course, I was coming from the angle of the older Brando. Now after watching On the Waterfront and now Streetcar, I've been more than blown away. Brando absolutely deserves his accolades. In streetcar, he plays Stanley to the tee. You don't catch him acting at all. You whole heartedly believe him as this animal of a husband and you despise him for what he's doing to an obvious delusional woman. I even feel for Stella being caught between two different people she loved. I agree the material is stunning for its time and I continue to be impressed with Kazan's direction. This movie deserved all its accolades. If you haven't seen it, you're doing yourself a disserve.
A Streetcar Named Desire One of the best movies ever made! The plot and the cast were excellent. Current movies just do not compare....more info
Come Looking for Brando--Leave with the indelible Leigh Yes, this is an iconic performance given by Brando as the loutish Stanley, who operates on a different level of sexual manipulation than the equally manipulative Blanche. They both know "Death--the opposite is desire" and the struggle to win is as riveting now as when the film was first shown.
But the audiences with whom I have seen this film have come to see the brutish Brando tear his T-sirt and cry Stella, but have all left discussing one of the greatest performances ever committed to film, that of the great Vivien Leigh.
She not only drifts out to madness is a sea of words, but she is alternately cruel and vulnerable as she does so. It is truly harrowing to watch this intelligent creature struggle so hard to find the salvation she seeks in this squalid New Orleans of the 50s.
Brando has claimed that Leigh was the perfect Blanche--and, as such-the film becomes about this tortured creature (whose very worst punisher is herself)perhaps more than the play ever was. The Pulitzer radio broadcast indicates that even the original Blanche (Jessica Tandy) was unable to make the Williams text as organic.
The new dvd edition promises a lot of extras and a glowing new transfer. It's about time that this great performance of Leigh's got all the right home video attention!...more info
A classic worty of the title. Elia Kazan's 1951 classic captures the liquor drenched ambience of post-war New Orleans and inserts the beauty of Williams's characters as they live out their lives of "quiet desperation." Vivien Leigh's Academy Award winning performance as Blanch Dubois strained the limits of her emotional stability; according to her husband Laurence Olivier. Her commitment is evident in this complex portrayal of a southern belle who looses the battle for sanity. Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden all turn in deeply personal performances making this film ahead of its time. Their work in Streetcar is a rare window into the development of American film acting at a time when this unique, highly naturalistic style, popularized by the Actors Studio, revolutionized cinema. ...more info
Still-compelling screen adaptation of a stage classic For its high-powered acting more than anything else, Elia Kazan's screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams' stage classic A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE has lived on in movie history. Though Marlon Brando, as Stanley Kowalski, didn't win an Academy Award for his breakthrough performance here, once again history tells a different story from what those old-fashioned geezers at AMPAS imply by their awards, and Brando's performance here has become something of a screen legend (as has the recently-deceased actor himself).
Brando is remarkable, to be sure. He goes down to pre-human levels and dredges up a performance that is terrifying as an unsparing portrait of male dominance and machismo. It certainly set a standard for screen acting (Robert De Niro, in his early years, did a similar kind of acting, to equally electrifying effect). But, for me, Vivien Leigh---who won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance here---really makes this movie as the protagonist of the film, Blanche DuBois. This character is one of the most fascinating and complex characters ever conceived for both stage and screen. How to describe or even interpret her? She is certainly the stark antithesis of the animalistic Stanley, being refined and proper (and a little pretentious) where Stanley is brutish and sloppy. She has had a difficult life in the past, especially regarding romance, and yet she retains her romantic ideals, seeking a tough yet kind man who will whisk her away from her troubles. She is, above all, a magnificently conceived and immensely compelling character, and Vivien Leigh---best known as Scarlett O'Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND---brings all of her complexities and contradictions to seemingly effortless life. It's a truly great performance (Pauline Kael considered it one of the greatest filmed performances ever), and her tension-filled scenes with Brando are the high points of the film. Kim Hunter is no less impressive as Blanche's caring sister Stella, and Karl Malden matches up convincingly with Viven Leigh in their scenes together. (Both won Oscars too, in supporting performance categories.)
Elia Kazan and screenwriter Williams (adapted for the screen by Oscar Saul) haven't quite been able to shed the staginess that often mars many a screen adaptation of a stage work, but that hardly seems to work against this particular film. Besides, who will complain when a screen adaptation is so engrossing and has such classic performances? Blanche's final line will haunt you just as it must have haunted many a theatergoer when the play premiered onstage. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, to this day, remains a powerful study of shattered dreams and unspoken romantic and sexual desires, as well as a master class in great screen acting. Highly recommended....more info
"Luck is believing you're lucky, that's all." Elia Kazan's film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" features some of the best tour-de-force acting cinema has ever seen. Yet, the film feels strangely lacking and deficient. This is due more to the shortcomings of the source material than Kazan's direction. While Williams' minimalist story contained enough material to produce an engaging stage play, the same work comes across as diminutive when adapted to the larger canvas of the big screen.
Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) arrives in New Orleans after losing her family estate. Scandalous rumors have tarnished her reputation and she is hoping to find some comfort and peace of mind by moving in with her sister, Stella Kowalski (Kim Hunter). Blanche tries to mask her fragile psyche by weaving tall tales about herself but Stanley (Marlon Brando), Stella's brute of a husband, sees right through them. Conflict ensues in the household as Stanley uses his insight to torment Stella while his wife tries to maintain the peace.
Brando is magnificent in "A Streetcar Named Desire." This fact is hardly in dispute. His portrayal of Stanley is tremendously masculine as the iconic image of him in his torn shirt in the pouring rain screaming for his wife will attest. His acting is also surprisingly sensitive in the quiet moments when Stanley and Stella are making romantic small-talk. The other performers are stellar as Hunter, Leigh, and Karl Malden actually manage to keep pace with Brando. However, the new standards set for cinematic emotional conflict and realism cannot overcome the simple nature of the story. This lack of narrative complexity limits "A Streetcar Named Desire" to being only a brilliant acting showcase....more info
ONE OF MARLON BRANDO'S GREATEST ROLES This was the movie that introduced me to Marlon Brando, and it was one of his best performances ever! This movie was based on Tennessee William's play, and the cast was phenomenal! This is one of the best movies I've ever seen, and it made me love Marlon Brando.
Vivien Leigh's performance couldn't have been better. She should be remembered as a great actress-not just as Scarlett O'Hara.
Karl Malden gives a great performance as well-as usual!
All in all a superb film, and one of the best plays by Tennesse Williams (you should read the play as well)!...more info
A BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF THE SEAMY SIDE OF LIFE Tennessee Williams rightfully takes his place as one of the premier playwrights in the history of the American theater. The relentless turning out of high quality pieces (and other short literary expositions) on subjects that in an earlier day before the 1950's would have not found nearly so receptive an audience.
I saw the movie version of Streetcar long before I read the original play so that, of necessity, the role of Stanley on the page evokes the powerfully strong, sexual and primitive role performed by Marlon Brando and the equally powerful performance by Vivian Leigh as the coquettish down on her heels Blanche Dubois. There are however, important differences between the story line presented in the movie and in the original play version. Some of the more explicit graphically sexual scenes and latent homosexual allusions did not pass muster with the censors of the times. For one familiar with the story from the stage or theater it is well worth going back and reading the original play to get a feel for the tensions that remain unexplored in the other media.
A reading of the play also makes clear something is missing from the productions and that is the sense that the characters are sleepwalking through life with their own private illusions that prevent them each, in the final analysis, from having more than a surface understanding of the others in the claustrophobic little home they inhabit. Blanche will pay, and pay dearly, for not understanding Stanley better as she tries to live the illusion of a fallen, aging Southern Belle. In any case, whether on stage on the screen or on the page this is a great American classic.
"A Streetcar Named Desire": A MUST For Any Collection Worth Its Cinematic Salt... The music at the beginning of "A Streetcar Named Desire" sends jolts through me that stir my emotions like a violent wind whipping flames through my soul every time I watch this DVD. That may sound dramatic, but it is truly how I feel when I hear the music of "A Streetcar Named Desire." To me, it is not merely the music of a film's score or music that is representative of a single film, but it is the music and the representation of an entire era - an era in which unmatched cinematic history was created. It is the awareness of the stage production that came before the film and the lives lived by those involved in creating the unrivaled work of art that "Streetcar" was and still is. We shall never again see the likes of Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden, Kim Hunter, Elia Kazan, Tennessee Williams, and others who brought "Streetcar" to life.
Marlon Brando is breathtaking, both physically and artistically, in this film. He plays the role of Stanley Kowalski, the brutish brother-in-law of Blanche DuBois, performed, shiningly, by Vivien Leigh. Stanley, the brute, is a character whose value system is quite contrary to that of Marlon Brando who portrays him in this film. Marlon reportedly once said that Stanley Kowalski exhibited "everything I loathe in men."
Early on in the film, Stanley meets his wife's sister, Blanche, and takes an immediate disliking to her. Then, throughout the remainder of the film, he works to systematically break her already fragile spirit, driving her further toward insanity - a state of mind she has teetered on for some time already. Stanley is not a man completely devoid of human feelings, however. Despite his egocentric tendencies, his crassness, and his crude behavior, he loves and cares about his wife, Stella, and is loving, tender, and needful where she is concerned.
In one scene, after Stella and Stanley have fought, Stella goes to stay with their upstairs neighbor and Stanley, revived from a drunken state with a cold shower forced upon him by his poker pals, stands haplessly (his clothes dripping wet)at the bottom of the stairs, tearfully, his face wrought with pain and his hands grasping the sides of his face, calling for his wife, "Stellaaaaaa!" It is a cry heard around the world and a scene replayed over and over again by fans, reviewers, and talk show hosts for a long time afterward. Stella succumbs to her feelings for Stanley and his need for her in that moment. She makes her way, slowly, to the bottom of the stairs where Stanley has, tearfully, fallen to his knees. She falls into his arms and covers his face with passionate kisses as he lifts her up and carries her into the house. "Don't ever leave me," he says.
Soon after his reconciliation with Stella, Stanley is back to his usual ways and his torment of Blanche is ongoing and relentless, culminating in a scene later in the film in which Stanley physically, emotionally, and sexually assaults Blanche while Stella is away at the hospital, preparing to give birth to her and Stanley's baby. Blanche is driven over the edge by the act. Stella returns from the hospital after giving birth to find her sister in an even more fragile state than before and makes the decision to commit Blanche to a mental institution. Stella's heart breaks for her sister as her sister is taken away and she lashes out at her husband, Stanley, whom she faults for her sister's circumstance. Despite this, Stella's final words in the film ring unconvincing when she tells Stanley never to touch her again and when she vows to never go back home to him again.
"A Streetcar Named Desire," written by the incomparable Tennessee Williams under the unparalleled directorial expertise of Elia Kazan, is among the greatest of the greats in films and filmmaking. Each time I have seen it, it has left me with a longing -a wishing to have been there to see the stage production and to have had a part in the creation of this film masterpiece, to have known the players, and to have watched them work in putting together this, one of the best pictures ever made.
For those considering purchasing this two-disk DVD set, it not only contains the film version of "A Streetcar Named Desire," but it also contains outtakes and commentaries, including a touching tribute to Marlon Brando by the wonderfully talented Karl Malden. Marlon Brando's screen test for "Rebel Without A Cause" is also on one of the disks as well as other inclusions that I was pleased to find. ...more info
Streetcar named desire This film explores the women's mental problem through the character named Blanch. At the climax, Stanley raped Blanche and revealed what she had done in the past. Finally, Blanche broke down mentally and was sent to mental hospital. The climax of this film is when Blanch was mentally broke down, so the beginning of this film is when her mental problem was revealed to audience. Audience will know she had some mental problem when Stanley asked her to give him paper about selling her house. She did not respond his question, and Stanley tried to find papers by himself from her bag. She was so upset and looked awkward when he tried to find papers. You will probably think that she had some mental problem.
When I saw the scene that Stanly tried to find paper, I thought Blanch was strange and she may have mental problem. At the climax when she mentally broke down, I could easily understand why she looks strange and wired at the beginning. The actor of Blanch gives you some clue of her mental problem at the beginning and lead smoothly to climax.
This movie make you think what is wrong with Blanch at the beginning. You never know why she was strange and what happened to her in the past. You have to wait until the climax to know the truth. The structure is really looks like the one of the mystery. I read many mystery books and films, and I feel this film have same structure. For example, in the film of Da Vinci code, you do not the truth at the beginning of the story. You do not know who the culprit is. You will know the truth at the end.
I recommend the movie to the people who like mystery. You will really enjoy reasoning what is the truth by watching this film.
Best actress. Best playwright. Best director. Whether or not you like Elia Kazan as a person--think he's a ..., what have you--his talent for direction is undeniable. And he shows this in the film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire. With the same aspect as such films as Wuthering Heights is, it's uncoth, it's dark, it's moody, it's creepy. But with reason. Some things just look better in black + white. To think of this in colour is unspeakable, even. This, along with On the Waterfront, rank as Kazan's best work. Both with Marlon Brando.
But dare I speak my mind? As much as I agree Brando is a very talented actour, and that his performance as Stanley Kowalski is excellent, a certain word comes to my mind...overrated? Now, perhaps it's because I prefer more of the traditional acting technique myself over method. Although you're not, in essense, "in character", it takes a real talent to pull it off. And in a nest of respected, seasoned methods, the one traditional gives, by far, the most outstanding performance. Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois is, not only the greatest acting in her career, but quite possibly by any female in the history of cinema. As stated before, she's purely technique. But the eery circumstances surrounding her life at this moment made her Blanche, and not with purpose. Although in a shallow perspective, Blanche is an overdramatic nympho whom many want to slap, I won't let it stop at that. Tennessee Williams remarked on how her Blanche was everything he had intended to bring to the role, and more. This I agree. Having read the play beforehand, and realizing that it would undoubtedly difficult to bring to life, I was persuaded by the 'closing credits' that Viv is one of the greatest actresses in cinematic history, at least to my knowledge. And because of that, she ranks as my most favourite. Above Katharine Hepburn, above Greta Garbo, above Joan Crawford. She can't be surpassed. And perhaps it's becuase I too, oddly enough can sympathize with the character. Sure, I'm not an aging, tormented nyphomaniac-of-a-southern belle, some of it is all to eery. Nothing is greater than the line "I've always depended on the kindness of strangers". Damn..in a twisted way, it's the hero of the epic tale--one who can surpass all time and place with what they represent. Can't be better.
Karl Malden also gives a great performance as Mitch. Having liked him as an actour [and Mitch as a character], I was satisfied with what I watched. I didn't care much for Kim Hunter, although she's not neccesarily bad. The art direction is everything that it should be, and it's Alex North's finest hour. Should've won best picture.
Coming from a huge Tennessee Williams fan, this can't be surpassed in terms of film-adaptations of plays. My favourite play, my favourite movie, my favourite actress, and one of my favourite directors. It can't be defeated....more info
Vivien Leigh's performance among the 20th century's very best. There is really not much one can add by way of commenting on the magnificence of Miss Leigh's performance here. Perhaps Mr. Williams said it best when he told her that she brought aspects of Blanche's character to the surface, that he, himself never imagined.
That is not in any way to minimize the interpretations of Jessica Tandy, (who originated the role on Broadway) or, of Judith Evelyn, (and Miss Evelyn must have been superb as, in a sense, she too, was born to play Blanche.)
And despite the superb musical score, art direction, and performances of the rest of the cast, this is Miss Leigh's picture.
Blanche's complexity defies easy analysis. Does she represent the collapse of the Old South? (yes to a degree) but, more particularly, she represents a type of lady, (which Mr. Williams knew well and whom the feminists would prefer no longer existed--but in fact does--and not just south of the Mason Dixon line) who requires the protection and security of the plantation culture from which she sprang.
One can easily imagine her on the shaded portico of Belle Rive, in gauzy chiffons, and protected by a gallant (though tolerant) husband, while she spends her days enrapt in the dream world which so enthralls her.
Indeed, one may see her as the "flip-side" of Scarlett O'Hara--this time the Southern Belle who didn't triumph--how fascinating that the same actress played both roles.
Perhaps Blanche was not destined to triumph but she is far from being a fool. Notice how Williams cannily has her refer to Hawthorne and Poe, not to mention her having been to college. Then, too, a seemingly minor, but very telling detail is her wearing of reading glasses.
Yes, she represents the world of the intellect and the world of culture. Who else, for pity's sake, in that crumbling tenement would have any idea what she means in her reference to "Della Robbia blue..."?
Certainly not Stella, about whom Thornton Wilder rightly carped, does not seem in any way to be from the same lineage as Blanche, her temperement not at all in keeping with the daughter of an aristocratic house, (not even a renegade daughter who realizes she is slumming, and knows why she crossed over the bridge).
Indeed, excellent actress though she is, Kim Hunter is far too proletariat to believe as ever having been a part of Belle Rive, and seems quite at home with Stanley.
However, we musn't make too much of this, since she was in the original, and Mr. Williams in using Miss Hunter, seems to be saying something profound about the differences between her and Blanche, (note the facial expressions Blanche makes whenever Stella speaks admiringly of Stanley--particularly at the bowling alley--it's clear that Stella's temperament baffles her.)
Then there is their respective choice of mates (which speaks volumes), for Blanche, a sensitive poet, for Stella, the cretinous Stanley. It's too bad that we don't even get to see a photograph of Blanche's deceased husband, Allan, which might have served as an interesting visual contrast.
All of which suggests, these two sisters really don't seem to understand each other very well, and their mutual attempts to come to terms with what they do share, constitutes some of the film's most touching passages.
And Blanche for all of her imagined, and/or real superiority is a woman with a stained past--for she has fallen too, though as Miss Leigh herself averred, these lapses with soldiers and 17 year olds had little to do with the corporeal, and everything to do with the search for security and protection. For Blanche, and when seen through the unreal pink light of a Chinese lantern, even a callow teenage boy can become her knight in shining armor.
For his part, Mr. Brando is very effective, though his character is painted with a very broad brush, and it is a testament to his talent, that his Stanley avoids caricature, (though at times he comes uncomfortably close, seeming to anticipate Archie Bunker). Nonetheless, some of his lines are both priceless and hilarious, "...I met a dame once who said 'I am the glamorous type' I said, 'So what!'..."
A splendid though shattering film. Kudos to all involved. ...more info
Lousy Commentary Most of the commentary had nothing to do with the scenes in the movie. It was basically anecdotes from the play that had already been told on the bonus CD that accompanies the package. I felt that Brando was the only one of the 4 cast members that deserved the Oscar yet he is the only one that didn't receive one. Ironically, although we always hear about Brando mumbling, it was Vivian Leigh who was mumbling in which you couldn't understanding everything she said. The movie is somewhat dated but worth a watch....more info
Paper Moon. As a playwright, Tennessee Williams was to the South what William Faulkner was as a fiction writer: a creative genius who revolutionized not only the region's arts scene and literature but that of 20th century America as a whole, bringing a Southern voice to the forefront while addressing universally important themes, and influencing and inspiring generations of later writers.
Pulitzer-Prize-winning "A Streetcar Named Desire" dates from the peak of Williams's creativity, the period between 1944 ("A Glass Menagerie") and 1955 ("Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," his second Pulitzer-winner). After its successful 1947 run on Broadway, "Streetcar" was adapted into a screenplay by Williams himself for this movie produced and directed by Elia Kazan, starring the entire Broadway cast except Jessica Tandy, who was replaced by the star of the play's London production, Vivien Leigh. The piece takes its title from one of the New Orleans streetcar lines that protagonist Blanche DuBois (Leigh) rides on her way to the apartment of her sister Stella (Kim Hunter), foreshadowing her later path, from (ever-unfulfilled) Desire to Cemetery (death, or the loss of reality) and a street called Elysian Fields, like the ancient mythological land of the dead.
Although Blanche is the person most visibly engaging in deception (of herself and others), almost everyone of the characters suffers loss after a brutal reality check: Stella, who hasn't been back home for years, first learns from Blanche that their genteel home Belle Reve (literally: "beautiful dream") is "lost" - although in what manner precisely Blanche doesn't specify, which immediately raises the suspicion of Stella's husband Stanley (Marlon Brando) - only to later hear from Stanley that under the veneer of Blanche's appearance as a delicate Southern lady lies a promiscuous past, and the true circumstances of her ouster from her job and ultimately from their home town were not as Blanche would have Stella believe. Stanley's friend Mitch (Karl Malden), who despite their disparate social backgrounds intends to marry Blanche after they are drawn to each other by their mutual need for "somebody" in their life, is similarly disillusioned by Stanley, and subsequently by Blanche herself when he insists on seeing her in bright light instead of the dim light of dancehalls and of the paper lamp she has insisted on hanging over Stella and Stanley's living room lamp, neither able to face the effects of age and a profligate lifestyle herself nor willing to reveal them to others. And Blanche's own loss of innocence, finally, set in years earlier, when she found her young husband in bed with another man and he committed suicide after she publicly reproached him. "Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see each other in life," Tennessee Williams says about "A Streetcar Named Desire" in Kazan's 1988 autobiography "A Life;" and in a letter opposing the movie's censoring before its release he described the story as being about "ravishment of the tender, the sensitive, the delicate, by the savage and brutal forces of modern society."
The brute, of course, is Stanley, who not only becomes the catalyst of Blanche's fate and the destroyer of Stella's, Mitch's and Blanche's own illusions, but is her antagonist in everything from background to personality: Where she is a fading belle dreaming of days gone by he is all youthful virility, a working-class man living in the here and now; where she is refined he is crude, and where she engages in pretense, he tears down the facade behind which she is hiding. The conversation during which Stanley tells Stella about Blanche's past is pointedly set against Blanche's humming the Arlen/Harburg tune "It's Only a Paper Moon," which sees love transforming life into a fantasy world, which in turn however "wouldn't be make-believe if you believed in me." Yet, as portrayed by Marlon Brando, who with this movie stormed into public awareness with his unique and volcanic approach to acting, Stanley is no mere vulgar beast but a complex, often controversial character, despite his brutal streak almost childishly dependant on his wife and frequently hiding his own insecurities under his raw appearance (thus putting up a certain front as well, but unlike Blanche's, a socially acceptable, even common one). Ever the method actor, Brando reportedly stayed in character even during filming breaks; much to the disgust of Vivien Leigh, for whom lines like "[h]e's like an animal. ... Thousands of years have passed him right by and there he is: Stanley Kowalski, survivor of the stone-age, bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle" must consequently have come from the bottom of her heart.
In early 1950s' society, "Streetcar" was considered way too risque - even downright sordid - to be presented to moviegoing audiences without severe censorship, which Williams and Kazan were only partly able to fight. One of the most substantial changes made in the adaptation was that at the end of the movie Stanley is punished for his brutality towards Blanche, whereas in the play's cynical original ending he is the only character experiencing no loss at all; indeed seeing his world restored after Blanche's exit. Since Kazan's suggestion to produce two alternate versions (one to please the censors, one in conformity with Williams's play) was rejected, even the 1993 "Original Director's Version" retains its altered, censorship-induced ending. Therefore, the play will forever constitute the last word on Williams's intentions. But even in its censored version this movie was a deserved quadruple Oscar- and multiple other award-winner (albeit undeservedly not for Brando). It has long-since become a true classic: a cinematic gem of first-rate direction and superlative performances throughout.
And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.
Hart Crane, "The Broken Tower": Preface to the published version of Tennessee Williams's play.
Tennessee Williams: Plays 1937-1955 (Library of America)
Tennessee Williams: Plays 1957-1980 (Library of America)
Tennessee Williams Film Collection (A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 Two-Disc Special Edition / Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958 Deluxe Edition / Sweet Bird of Youth / The Night of the Iguana / Baby Doll / The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone)
Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (Broadway Theatre Archive)
The Rose Tattoo
Suddenly, Last Summer
This Property Is Condemned
Tennessee Williams' Dragon Country (Broadway Theatre Archive)...more info
A classic film that was truly ahead of its time A Streetcar Named Desire released in 1951 was a true classic by Tennesse Williams. This took place in the dreadful years following World War II in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Williams created an amazing character Blanche DuBois, acted by Vivien Leigh. Blanche is the main character, a delicate and anxious young woman who has come to live with her sister Stella and her sisters husband Stanley to lead a new beginning. Vivien Leigh as well as Marlon Brando (Stanley), Kim Hunter (Stella) and Karl Malden (Mitch) all helped revolutionize American cinemas to what they have become today. This film was outstanding and very well known as ahead of its time. ...more info
Essential Brando in Williams' Hothouse Classic Of Delusions and Deceptions The unfiltered primacy of 27-year old Marlon Brando (in only his second film) cuts through the feverish, Baroque-style histrionics that define Tennessee Williams' near-poetic masterwork. Brando's mastery over the characterization of Stanley Kowalski comes from a precocious ability to undercut the testosterone-driven braggadocio with a rough-hewn sensitivity tied to Stanley's need for Stella. Directed on all cylinders by Elia Kazan, the 1951 adaptation of the Broadway hit has a somewhat stage-bound feel since most of the action takes place within the environs of the Kowalskis' downscale apartment building in New Orleans' French Quarter. However, screenwriter Oscar Saul seizes on the sexual themes of Williams' play and brings a refreshingly adult view to them (at least for the early 1950's), as Kazan guides the principal actors to powerhouse performances that demand our attention.
The relatively small-scale plot focuses on faded Southern belle Blanche DuBois, who comes to visit her younger sister Stella from Mississippi where she held onto a fantasy of gentility and respectability growing up on the family plantation, Belle Reve. Hoping for a safe haven in New Orleans, Blanche is disappointed to see that Stella has married Stanley, an unruly blue-collar worker. Conflict ensues almost immediately between Blanche and Stanley with Stella stuck in the middle. Gradually, Blanche's self-delusions peel away her sanity until a harrowing incident takes her over the edge. Even though Brando dominates every moment he has, Vivien Leigh affectingly counterpoints with one of her most definitive performances as Blanche, the true protagonist of the piece.
Intriguingly, 56 years later, the contrast between Leigh's florid, more ornately theatrical approach and Brando's fearlessly instinctual work comes across almost too extreme with the actress looking all the more pretentious by comparison. Only in the shattering climax do they truly seem on equal ground. The real surprise, especially in the now-unexpurgated version, is Kim Hunter, whose comparatively subtle performance as Stella maintains a delicate balance between supportive sister and lust-driven wife. In a marginally smaller role, Karl Malden is ideally cast as mama's boy Mitch, who gets caught up in Blanche's lies only to be victimized by them. Harry Stradling's evocative cinematography and especially Alex North's jazzy musical score add substantively to the atmosphere of the heady melodrama.
The two-disc 2006 DVD set is a treasure trove of extras. Even though it lacks a direct connection with the scenes, the commentary track provides historical context with tracks recorded separately with 94-year old Malden and film scholars Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young. The first disc also includes a number of trailers for Kazan's classic films, including three just for "Streetcar". Disc two has an informative 75-minute 1994 documentary on the director, "Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey" and five featurettes focused on various aspects of the movie - its birth as a Broadway play, its translation to film, the struggles with censorship and the Hayes Office, North's music, and of course, Brando. There are rare outtakes included, though the best surprise is a four-minute screen test Brando did for Rebel Without a Cause....more info
A Streetcar Named Desire I rented this movie wanting to see what everyone was raving about. I have to say that this film was absolutely fantastic! As a big Janet Leigh fan from her work as Scarlett in GWTW I was blown away. Brando is magnetic and steals every scene he's in. I recommend this movie if you want to see great performances captured on film. All i can say is "wow"....more info
Not a Heroine But Tragic Nonetheless For various reasons, I have never liked either the play or the film on which it is based but remain fascinated with the human experiences which Tennessee Williams examines. The character of Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) dominates the narrative but his wife Stella (Kim Hunter) really is the stronger person. Pregnant, she is visited by her sister Blanche Dubois (Vivien Leigh) who arrives with enough emotional baggage to keep a regiment of psychotherapists busy. She and Stanley have an immediate and ambivalant chemical reaction to each other. To her, he is a lower animal, unworthy of her sister; to him, she is a posturing, pretentious bitch. Under the brilliant direction of Elia Kazan, Leigh's performance suggests how fragile, vulnerable, and desperate Blanche really is. As for Stanley, to invoke a weary aphorism, what we see is what we get...except that he seems vulnerable without his wife's love and support. Both on stage and in the film, there is no doubt of the powerful sexual attraction between Stella and Stanley. Williams invests the character of Blanche with ephemeral qualities. In some respects, she is an elderly Scarlett O'Hara who reluctantly endures her sister's boorish husband because she has nowhere else to go. Her personal "streetcar" has reached the end of the line.
The acting is consistently outstanding. Of course, we know early on that there will be a major confrontation between Blanche and Stanley. Oscar Saul collaborated with Williams on the screenplay which carefully prepares us for it. When it finally occurs, we feel sympathy (if not pity) for Blanche and her relocation to a new home in which, perhaps, she will receive the kindness she so obviously craves. There is great emotional power in this film. Also, I think, sadness with regard to the resolution of Blanche's association with the Kowalskis. With all due respect to Leigh (who received an Academy Award for her performance, as did Hunter and Karl Malden for theirs), I would have preferred Jessica Tandy whom I was privileged to see in the Broadway production. Tandy captured -- in ways and to an extent which Leigh does not -- certain nuances of Blanche's illusions and delusions which are indelibly poignant....more info
Funny, heartbreaking and moving -- "Streetcar" is a classic. After seeing a performance of Tennessee Williams' gripping play "A Streetcar Named Desire" at a local event, I immediately bought the award-winning film. I was unsure how a brutally powerful story about the demise of one woman's reputation could be translated into a film, but I was not disappointed. This two-disc set restores some of the "objectionable content" that almost derailed the film's production, and the movie is as enjoyable and thrilling as the play itself, with the exception of an ending that was tweaked to appease 1950s sensibilities.
The performances are simply stellar. Brando is both hilarious and frightening in his breakout role as Stanley Kowalski, and Vivien Leigh turns in a graceful and haunting performance as Blanche DuBois, the Southern belle whose attempts to right her world when she moves in with her sister Stella and sister's husband Stanley go hopelessly awry.
Funny, heartbreaking and moving "Streetcar" is a classic. ...more info
THE MEETING OF THE BEST OF ACTORS In 1950, prodicer Charles Feldman brought Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando together in order to repeat their theatre-successes(she in London - him on Broadway) og Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski.
It became a landmark film.
It is a fascinating study of old-timer classical actress Leigh - versus the method prince Brando. THEY ARE DYNAMITE together and the film remains as powerful as it was in 1951.
Elia Kazan remained not ON MY SIDE however and claimed she had a small talent, but would have walked on broken glass if she thought it would have helped her career.
However; the so-called purists have always been sceptical about the combination of beauty AND talent.
A credit to Vivien Leigh: Like all her post-Scarlett-roles; her Blanche is a character made by Leigh and totally unlike Vivien`s other performances....more info
A Juggernaut Named Brando There are three reasons for watching "A Streetcar Named Desire": Brando. Brando. Brando.
Marlon Brando's bestial heat still flares off that black and white celluloid like the flashpots from the third row of a KISS concert. It is obvious why his work in this movie has been lauded, critiqued, dissected, imitated, codified and ultimately iconicized - it's absolutely astounding! To this day, few have captured that feral rawness and "natural-ness" that he exuded; an actor boldly pioneering a new style, a bravura "Method". The screen becomes all too two-dimensional when he is not onscreen.
On the other hand, Vivien Leigh's acting style, though lauded by film aficionados as a symbiotic, diametric marriage of intensity with Brando's, is just plain hard to watch and truthfully quite embarrassing at points.
For modern viewers, she cannot seem to "convince" with her old-school "presentational" style, clashing irreconcilably with Brando's "method".
The icy romance between Leigh and Karl Malden's character only serves to pound home the truth that sexual mores have moved too far from filmic 50s etiquette, to be in any way considered vital or even interesting to modern viewers, even though, for its day, much censorship was brought down upon "Streetcar". So we are left with an inordinate amount of yapping that Leigh inflicts on Malden; enough to make any man turn to drink, drugs, other women, other men, football, synchronized swimming or forsaking humanity and leaving for outer space like Chuck Heston in "Planet Of The Apes".
During Leigh's incessant rambles, strewn passim to illustrate her neuroticism, one continually wonders whether one is missing innuendo which was considered innuendo Back Then but which is now simply naivete, or whether there was any innuendo courted at all and it was as innocent and puling as it sounded. Ultimately, it is too taxing to pretend filmic sophistication and dissect character motivation - on a pure enjoyment level, Leigh delivers only to historians and Serious Critics.
Surely, 'The Play's The Thing' and the story is as vital now as it was then (that of the estranged sister - Leigh - with the profligate and promiscuous past attempting to excise her demons by immersing herself in a new life with her sister and brother-in-law - Kim Hunter and Brando), but the manner in which this tale is purveyed has dated, the only vital remaining aspect being Brando. Brando. Brando.
Moments of true sensuality Try as they may, few movies released in recent years have been able to duplicate the feminine sensuality of the scene in which Stella walks down the staircase to meet Stanley. This is one of the greatest films of all time....more info
Hollywood with the smell of theatre Probably those who were lucky enough to experience the first performances of Williams'masterpiece in the flesh (with Jessica Tandy as Blanche, for instance) are the only ones able to have a superior parameter to measure the play. For the rest of us, it is Elia Kazan's film.
We, viewers, are blessed that such an ensemble (Kazan, Brando, Leigh, Malden and Hunter) rescued forever one of the peaks of US literature.
For me, among its many virtues, the first and major is the magnificent confluence of the raising talent of Marlon Brando and the evening star of Vivien Leigh....more info
Has Become My All-time Favorite Movie I will admit, the first time I saw "Streetcar"(as a kid), I had been a HUGE "Gone With the Wind" fan. I wanted to see another movie with Vivien Leigh. I hated the film immediately. This strange woman with her sing-song voice was a far cry from the headstrong Scarlett. I see now that my initial reaction to the film speaks to the depth and brilliance of Ms. Leigh's performance. "Streetcar" has become my favorite movie. The acting is superb. I was blown away by Ms. Leigh's performance and can't imagine another actress in that role. The fact that "Streetcar", set in the 1940s, filmed in black and white, having little or no set changes can keep viewers glued to their screen is a true testament to the actors, Mr. Kazan, and of course, the great Williams. Having watched the film several times now, I am consistently mesmerized by Leigh and Brando....more info
Outstanding One of the greatest films I have ever seen in my life, "A Streetcar Named Desire" is perfectly cast with an emotionally wrenching plot. Vivien Leigh gives her greatest performance and one of the greatest performances of any actress or actor in portraying the anguished, tormented and suffering Blanche DuBois. As her opposite, Marlon Brando is brutally startling with his sporadic on-screen violence. As for Vivien Leigh: what a change from "Gone With The Wind."...more info
Correcting a page error! Contrary to the categorization that appears on this page, this is NOT a TELEVISION SOUNDTRACK! It is a rerecording of the landmark Alex North score as performed by The National Philharmonic and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. The score was previously only available in snippets of various other albums. This one, though not entirely complete, presents the highlights of the jazz-influenced composition.
Fans of both North and orchestral scoring will be pleased with this rendition....more info
A Streetcar Named Desire One of the best movies ever made, great performances all around, especially Brando, even though he was the only main actor in the movie that didn't win an Oscar. DVD quality superb....more info
A Streetcar Named Desire "A Streetcar Named Desire" is a classic portrayal of what both money and alcohol can do. The movie also reflected on many taboo topics such as homosexuality, domestic violence and rape as well as Blanche's affair with a young man. This movie was way ahead of its time and opened the eyes of its audience as well as movies to come. Brando's acting was intense, for his emotions kept the entire performance alive. The acting of Stella and Blanche was good but their characters were much less dramatic then Stanley's, even Blanche's character did not compare for me. The movie has a good plotline but might be lost today because of its out datedness, the music in the background might just put a younger audience to sleep. The themes are central today and a remake would definitely be a hit among the lazy film viewers of today....more info
Magnificent performance of a classic Elia Kazan's adaptation of "A Streetcar Named Desire" is magnificent and ahead of its time with the issues it addresses. His interpretation of Tenessee Williams' classic play is powerful and dramatic. Kazan employs a fantastic cast. Marlon Brandon plays an impeccable Stanley with intense emotions and a strong disposition. Blanche is also portrayed very well. Vivien Leigh brings Blanche fragility and vulnerability and she interacts with the other characters flawlessly. Though her emotions are slightly over the top, this brings life to her character. Overall this rendition of Williams' classic is a must see and is highly recommended...more info
Good Film! Terrible DVD! This is a very good, touching and terrifying at times film about how people use, intimidate and ill-treat each other even among families. A poor, long-suffering lady is close to a mental breakdown and comes to seek out her sister for help but in the end this only leads to a totally opposite outcome. Both Leigh and Brando put in excellent performances here and so does Karl Malden who together with Brando would go on to even better things with "On the Waterfront."
The problem is with the DVD which hasn't been restored at all making for very, very poor picture and sound quality. With the advent of Blu-Ray, here's hoping they would take this opportunity to totally remaster this film and to add good bonus features which are totally missing here. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or DTS THX sound options would be a real treat.
This is a good film but I recommend you wait for a much better restored version to surface and not to waste your hard earned money on this very, very poor DVD version....more info
One of the best films ever! The writing makes this truly stand out, make sthis a marvel to behld. Teh actors are completely immersed in their roles, vanishing into not wholely likeable characters. In a time when people are worried about thei rpublic image, its nice to have this as a reference to when actors didn't care about what you thought of them as people because they separated their identities from their roles. Now, it's a star with a movie around them. But at this point and time, it was all about the craft of doing something that would shock and amaze and be critically examined....more info
Brando needs an Oscar for this role Altough I've heard ASCND was a classic before I saw it, I truely believe it now that I finally have. As an afficionado of acting, I was blown away by Leigh and Brando's protrale of Stanley and Blanch. I think this is one of Marlon Brando's best acting jobs every. It is such a shame that this style of acting is so rare. Sadly he did not win an Oscar for this role, which I believe was well deserved....more info
*Adorable* Stanley *Bipolar* Kowalski Ok, the acting doesn't get any better...undisputed fact. I find the BIOPOLAR Stanley hilarious, along with everything else people have said for over half a century. Brando even said in his autobio that Jessica Tandy would get mad at him during the play because audiences would laugh at him as he tormented her, diminishing her character, and she blamed him. Guess she had to blame somebody.
But Marlon Brando, in all his genius, depth, brilliance, talent, etc, etc, etc, just plain cracks me up, in his movies and to confirm his sense of humor, in his autobio. I was laughing so hard I couldn't even read the part in his autobio when he was talking about his visit on the set of "The Godfather" from a cocked eyed mob boss.
He said, "The first thing I noticed about him was that one of his eyes looked to the left and the other to the right. I didn't know which one to look at, so, trying not to offend him, I alternated between them." This simply cracked me completely up. But when he quoted the mob boss during a tour of the set as saying, "I don't know how you keep from goin' nuts Marlo, with all these people and all these wires and everything," Brando wrote, "I agree, the whole thing is really cockeyed, isn't it?" Then I looked into his cocked eyes and realized what I'd said. I spun around, trying to divert his attention to something on the set and to get a glimpse of his reaction peripherally. For a moment he blinked and I thought I saw a hurt look flash across his face, but the moment passed, and I babbled a mouthful of mush to fill the air with words, not knowing what in the world I was saying." I am still trying to imagine a big bad cocked eyed gangster with a hurt look on his face due to "Marlo's" slip of the tongue.
This was the funniest part of his autobio to me, although the man cracked me up through the entire reading as he does in his movies, serious or not, he makes me smile. He just has an amazing effect on me and I think it's deeper than just his unparalleled acting ability because I'm not all that impressed with actors. I'm gonna keep searching until I find out what it really and truly is about him that, as he says in his autobio about him almost getting strangled to death at the premier of Guys and Dolls, "turns crowds into mobs".
I know his courage has a lot to do with it and my attraction to strength and courage is an obvious connection, but I still think there is more and I'm gonna keep digging. His movies are revealing (he spilled his guts in Last Tango In Paris while playing the harmonica), as well as in his autobio, but there was more to this man than we will probably ever know, more than he probably ran out of time to find out. Head's up for us to forever examine our own lives because there is obviously more to us than meets the eye, as Eva Marie Saint said when Brando asked her in On The Waterfront, 'what more do you want?'...much more, much, much more! ...more info
Histrionic Histrionic and overdramatic by today's standards, with a lot of crying, screaming and exaggerated dialogue. Nonetheless, an interesting story and social commentary whose message has held up well over time....more info