|A Streetcar Named Desire (Two-Disc Special Edition)
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Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 05/02/2006 Run time: 122 minutes Rating: Nr
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
Brutal Brando, I love Marlon Brando. but he was too mean in this movie. No heart or feelings for poor Blanche. Blanche was an outcast. The subject of her rejection was an indication of her being the way that she was. What Blanche did was by all means wrong and it couldn't be excused. You could see the beauty in her despite her heavy burden. Blanche was too hard on herself. She was always wanting approval from others. Not knowing how graceful, refined, and beautiful she was. I agree she was a little frayed around the edges and she took refinement to another level. But still she showed signs of the proper up bringing and breeding. Blanche had fallen from grace.
The cast was outstanding. Wright King one of my favorite actors never quite made the grade in movies. Kim hunter made some progress on the screen. Kim's movie acting was limited to a certain degree. Perhaps these people were stage actors. Mitch who was to be Blache's savior was excellent as well. Karl Maulden was a fine actor.
They tell me John Garfield was up for the part of Stanley. I think Marlon Brando was the best choice. John Garfield could be rough. He had a tough guy attitude. But I don't believe he could be as brutal as Brando.
I could not handle the last part in the movie. It was hard to see Blanche reduced to what seemed like a fleeing animal. The way she ran and fell to the floor. The matron perhaps envious of this delicate women; wanted to put her in a straight jacket and have her nails cut. Poor Blache, but the doctor an older gentlemen understood Blanche's personality. He knew what would work for Blanche. She was a lady and well mannered at that. So he treated her like a lady. To see him tip his hat, take her arm and escort her out to the waiting car was touching.
My favorite part in this movie was the first scene. The sight of the train making it's way to New Orleans. The cabs pulling up just in time to load pasengers. This reminded me of days gone by. Then out of the smokey steam came Blanche.
This is a very sensitive movie. A study of the lost and lonely with no where to turn.
- 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
- 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
- A Sultry Masterpiece For The Ages
*WARNING: May contain spoilers.*
A Streetcar Named Desire is a fascinating film for a lot of reasons. It's very difficult for me to compose my thoughts on this film, as there are just so many things happening on so many different levels.
I suppose I'll begin with the element that really makes the film what it is: the one and only Elia Kazan. For some reason these days, Kazan's films seem to get labeled as outdated and heavy-handed. I can understand why one might think that about Boomerang! or Gentleman's Agreement (though I think those are both very good films, especially the latter), but there is certainly nothing outdated or heavy-handed about A Streetcar Named Desire. It is one of the subtlest and most well crafted films I have ever seen.
The story concerns aging southern belle Blanche DuBois (Leigh), who moves to New Orleans to stay with her younger sister Stella (Hunter) and finds a culture clash at every corner, especially with Stella's "unrefined" husband Stanley, who is played by a very sexy Marlon Brando.
It is extraordinarily interesting to see the juxtaposition between Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. Leigh is an old-fashioned, classical actress of the highest order, charming the audience with her sunny disposition and perky smile, though she definitely has a dark side. Then we have Brando, a young, up-and-coming user of the rising art of method acting. It is one of the most interesting on-screen interactions one is likely to see.
What is also very interesting is watching Blanche's slow spiral into insanity. All of the elegance and wealth she grew up in is gone, and she has done unthinkable things to survive. Now she is stuck in a New Orleans slum with a sweaty simpleton yelling at her. Pair that with the tormenting suicide of a past lover, and you have a recipe for madness.
Being based on a Tennessee Williams play, the film takes place in essentially one location, that being Stella and Stanley's apartment, but Kazan utilizes the New Orleans locale to perfection, and the combination of his direction, the gorgeous, glowing black and white cinematography, and Alex North's sultry, jazzy score gives the film a consistently surreal, almost dreamlike atmosphere.
But more notably, the New Orleans atmosphere gives Kazan the perfect opportunity to play with the story's sensual aspects, and he occasionally even delves into pure primal sexuality, such as in the famous "Stella!" scene. The film is so subtly steamy and wrought with sexual tension that it pushed the boundaries of censorship back in its day. This also may be due to the fact that it alludes to some very controversial subjects. This is another point at which the film's subtlety becomes a marvel of cinematic engineering. Was Blanche's lover homosexual? Did Stanley rape Blanche? There are no solid answers to these questions - it is left for the viewer to decide.
But as I first mentioned, the real virtuoso behind this film is Elia Kazan. Some people may still be upset over his actions during the Red Scare, but it is undeniable that he made some extremely good films. A Streetcar Named Desire is one of his absolute finest masterpieces. It was very much ahead of its time, and it remains one of the most intense, subtle, and well-made dramas in the history of film....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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Love on the rocks.
Without putting the adaptation into historical context, (because I haven't researched the movie's history or the play itself), I have to say A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the most realistic and honest acted (by all involved) films around. Brando himself seems to disappear into the role of the down-to-earth Stanley. Stanley and Stella make the quintessential Orleanian couple, for their time, as they live foot-loose but deeply in love with each other, and they know each of the other is the only one for them. They quarrel now & again but the fights are usually either rooted in fun or serve as foreplay. Things change for them when Stella's hoity-toity sister Blanche shows herself and begins living with the couple. Stanley clearly doesn't enjoy Blanche's elitist attitude and how it's beginning to rub off on Stella; or maybe more precisely awaken Stella as she may have been before her time with Stanely. It would be interesting to know the time when Stanley and Stella met. I can imagine Stella being just as aggrivated if one of Stanley's relatives suddenly began staying in the apartment with no prospects and no plan to leave anytime soon, but in this case, Stanley is at his wits end when Blanche's story (of the past several years before showing up) doesn't check out and Stanley exposes Blanche's past. Let's just say it's a sorted past and whatever the road she traveled to get to the point where she hopped from hotel to motel, depending on the kindness of strangers , she's a bit used and a little lost in the mind to say the least. We do know some of her story about Stella leaving Blanche in a troubled situation at home as kids for New Orleans, but it comes off as patronizing Stella and more than a little selfish...the very thing Blanche believes of Stella! As a matter of fact, I can identify with Stella somewhat in that respect. Blanche meets a would-be gentleman and the entire situation blows up in many areas; with Stella & Stanley, Stella & Blanche, Stanley & Mitch, Blanche & Mitch...it's a regular royal rumble of sorts. Throw in some card playing buddies and a close-knit, cheeky neighborhood and 'Streetcar' stands as maybe the best adaptation from a play out there (with Glengarry Glen Ross way up there also).
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
- 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
- Excellent but I would have wanted more realism
This is a very emotional film. It induces emotion in the viewer, and for that I give it five stars. I'm more interested in constructive criticism than in praise, so even though I think it is an excellent film, I will just focus on what I think is wrong with it.
One problem is that Blanche DuBois is simply too pretty for the role. We don't understand, on a gut level, why this beautiful girl would worry about hiding behind dim lighting. The script makes it clear that she is supposed to look "old", and yet she doesn't. That's a fault of the film. It makes her final passionate scene with Karl Malden incomprehensible. He holds her up to the light, she looks very pretty, and yet we are supposed to believe that she looks terrible in bright light. For that I blame the director, Elia Kazan. What in God's name could he have been thinking of, and why did he mess up so badly on that important detail?
Another important fault of this film is that Stanley Kowalski's attack on Blanche isn't set up properly. Are we just supposed to believe that he is an animal, and chalk it up to that? Sorry, not good enough. We should have seen it coming. Again, another big mess-up by Kazan. When the script has the characters doing something that doesn't ring true, there's a problem. We needed to see that attack being led up to. We needed to think "Oh my god, I know what he is about to do."
Stanley Kowalski is actually the good guy throughout most of the movie. All of a sudden it turns. It's incomprehensible. Somewhere between the writing, directing, and acting, somebody dropped the ball somewhere. The Stanley Kowalski who attacks Blanche is not the same man who appears earlier in the film. He's not an "animal". He's not set up that way for us. Blanche is the snob, and Stanley is okay, but that is turned on its head at the end.
Insanity is a nice little copout. We can make our actors do anything, and just say okay, they went nuts. Very touching, but not very realistic. How does someone go insane? What stages do they go through? Blanche's descent into insanity, into an inability to tell reality from fantasy, should have been more realistic, more researched, more consistent with the way it actually happens. It does happen to people, people who are extremely bipolar, people who are schizophrenic. More research should have been done, to show what the descent into insanity actually does look like.
I have high standards, but that's a good thing, I think. Still, I've given this film five stars....more info
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.
A must see. ...more info
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
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
- Blink! and You'll Miss Blanche's Triumph
There is no amount of praise I can write here to effectively honor this great film. The cast, the script, the direction, and THE ACTING are transcendent. I must have watched Streetcar a dozen times, before I noticed Tennessee Williams' almost invisibly crafted moment of Blanche's triumph. Streetcar puzzled me for years, because I couldn't understand why Williams would let the Stanley's of this world claim such a brutal victory. Then one day, I was watching for the millionth time and I saw IT! Stanley's defeat and Blanche's (and by extension the pregnant Stella's) salvation. An American Masterpiece. ...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
- A True Classic
For a classic movie fan. I bought the DVD because I am a big fan of Vivien Leigh. I was not sure I would like the movie, but I loved it. I have watched it many times in the months I have had it. A must for a classic movie fan....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.
- 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
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
- 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
- "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
- 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.
- DISSAPOINTING TRANSFER
If you're looking to upgrade to the Warner 2 disc special edition you might be in for a shock . It looks to me as if they've applied some noise-reduction filters to the 98 transfer.
So now you get a little less grain but its less sharper.
IMHO the original DVD transfer was better.
I give the movie a 5 however....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
- 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
- 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 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
- 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
- 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
- Stunning cast and superb director...
"A Streetcar Named Desire" is one of those rare movies that combine the best actors/actresses in the business with an amazing director. Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando & Elia Kazan.
The whole cast deliver the performances of their career's and Kazan shows why he is a genius in the field of direction. This movie swept the Oscar's, winning 3/4 of the acting awards. The only loser was Marlon Brando, who lost to a screen legend at the top of his game, Humphrey Bogart.
The best thing about this movie is the stunning cast. Vivien Leigh plays Blanche in probably the greatest performance in the history of cinema. Kim Hunter is simply breathtaking as Stella and Brando is stunning as Stanley.
The actors here do a great job in bringing a sense of sincerity to their chracters that lacks in most movies today.
Shot to amazing effect in black and white this adaptation of Tennessee Williams' classic stage play is directed by the amazing Elia Kazan ("On The Waterfront", "Gentlemans Agreement"). These stellar combinations make this film essentially a classic and basically perfect.
You can't help but feel sorry for poor Blanche, sympathise with Stella, laugh at the escapades of Eunice and detest the evil soul that is Stanley....more info
- Watch how Brando steals the show
Great Tennessee Williams play with many autobiographical ingredients. Fantastic acting from everybody. The story is meant to be about Blanche (Vivian Leigh), but Brando completely captivates the audience; it's hard to get one's eyes away from him. Steamy, sexually charged story, but also with a second side, less passionate, and hidden in the background. This other side of the story is actually the mystery that envelops the main character: Blanche. You will have to find out about her, if you don't fall under the spell of Brando (stanley), and eventually miss the original story.
The play develops as a very ambivalent convergence of visions: violent, rude and macho Stanley meets the dreamy and weak Blanche. They play their parts around the pivotal role of Blanche's sister, Stella (who could be also us, the audience). Of course, crude realism, animal instinct love, wins the day over any abstract considerations. But both sides have their ambivalences too. Blanche, as well as Stanley, are not clear cut characters. This convergence of opposites takes place in both of them as well. But that's what lies underneath, if one has interest enough to dig into them.
Elia Kazan did a great job creating the muggy and highly heated atmosphere of French Quarter New Orleans. Sets, music, direction... everything is perfect. One great film that feels like being at the theatre.
A lot of good extras come in the second dvd: Kazan's career documentary; a short about Brando; and extras about the Broadway show and the movie itself. Great package. Mandatory for any decent film collection....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
- 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
- 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
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