|A Streetcar Named Desire
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- 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
- 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
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
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.
- 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
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
- 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
- "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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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
- 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
- "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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- ARE PEOPLE NUTS!!!!????
I can't believe that this film rated less than On The Waterfront per Amazon reviewers!!! In my mind On the Waterfront SUCKED compared to A Streetcar Named Desire. Oh well... if you want to view a FANTASTIC film get Streetcar Named Desire. On The Waterfont had GREAT talent, no doubt, but it DID NOT deserve the accolades it has gotten. It is maudlin. It is uninspired. It is a cash-in on the then highly popular Marlon Brando. DO NOT read the movie review pundits. Watch and feel. The choice will be obvious....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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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