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A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Poster

Trivia

John Garfield turned down the role of Stanley Kowalski because he didn't want to be overshadowed by the female lead.
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Jump to: Spoilers (1)
As the film progresses, the set of the Kowalski apartment actually gets smaller to heighten the suggestion of Blanche's increasing claustrophobia.
Vivien Leigh, who suffered from bipolar disorder in real life, later had difficulties in distinguishing her real life from that of Blanche DuBois.
Although Vivien Leigh initially thought Marlon Brando to be affected, and he thought her to be impossibly stuffy and prim, both soon became friends and the cast worked together smoothly.
Vivien Leigh had already played Blanche in the first London production of the play, under the direction of her then-husband, Laurence Olivier. She later said that Olivier's direction of that production influenced her performance in the film more than did Elia Kazan's direction of the film.
Despite giving the definitive portrayal of Stanley Kowalski, Marlon Brando said he privately detested the character. However, it should be added that Brando was an eccentric character who loved misleading people and playing pranks.
As of 2014, it is one of only two films in history to win three Academy awards for acting. The other is Network (1976).
Vivien Leigh, who was only 36 at the time of filming, had to be made up to look older.
During Blanche's birthday dinner she begins telling a joke which Stanley interrupts. In the play she finishes the joke, which told of an old maid who had a parrot with a lot of profanity in its vocabulary. The only way to silence the parrot was to cover its cage with a cloth so it would think it was night time and go to sleep. One morning the pastor comes to visit the woman right after she uncovered his cage, so she had to immediately cover it again. The pastor came inside and heard the parrot say, 'G**damn, that was a short day!'
Nine members of the original Broadway cast (Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias, Richard Garrick, Ann Dere and Edna Thomas) repeated their roles in the film, a highly unusual decision at the time and even today, when original casts of plays are often completely replaced for the film versions. However, Vivien Leigh, who had played Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), was selected to play Blanche du Bois over Jessica Tandy to add "star power" to the picture (Marlon Brando had not yet achieved full stardom in films; he would be billed under Leigh in the film's credits).
The movie's line "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." was voted as the #75 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
When the film was previewed in Santa Barbara in 1951, the director Elia Kazan's date was a then obscure contract starlet, Marilyn Monroe, whom he introduced to Arthur Miller.
Composer Alex North wrote and recorded the first ever jazz-orientated film score for a dramatic picture. The score served to colour the sound of the film's steamy New Orleans setting. It has become a well-deserved landmark in the history of film music and paved the way for numerous movie jazz scores.
The Production Code censors demanded 68 script changes from the Broadway staging, while the interference of the Catholic Legion of Decency led to even further cuts, most of them having to do with references to homosexuality and rape. In his memoirs, Tennessee Williams wrote that he liked the film but felt it was "slightly marred by the Hollywood ending".
Vivien Leigh initially felt completely at sea when she joined the tight New York cast in rehearsals. Director Elia Kazan was able to exploit her feelings of alienation and disorientation to enrich her performance.
After Blanche first arrives at the Kowalskis' she and Stella have an argument in which Blanche says "Where were you. In there with your Polack!" In the play her line was, "In bed with your Polack!" In the movie Blanche says she has had "many meetings with strangers!" In the play it was, "many intimacies with strangers!"
Mickey Kuhn plays the young sailor who helps Vivien Leigh onto the streetcar at the beginning of this film. He had previously appeared with her in Gone with the Wind (1939) as Beau Wilkes (the child of Olivia de Havilland's character Melanie) toward the end of that film when the character was age 5. When Mickey Kuhn mentioned this to someone else on the set of "A Streetcar Named Desire", word got back to her, and Miss Leigh called him into her dressing room for a half-hour chat. In an interview in his seventies, Kuhn stated that Leigh was extremely kind to him and "one of the loveliest ladies he had ever met."
Fitted t-shirts could not be bought at the time so Marlon Brando's apparel had to be washed several times and then the back stitched up to appear tightly over the actor's chest.
While Vivien Leigh was playing Blanche, her real-life husband Laurence Olivier was also in Hollywood, filming Carrie (1952), costarring Jennifer Jones and directed by William Wyler. On one occasion, the celebrated couple dined with Marlon Brando.
Shot on a 36-day schedule.
Jessica Tandy was originally slated to play Blanche, after creating the role on Broadway. The role was given to Vivien Leigh (after Olivia de Havilland refused it) because she had more box-office appeal. De Havilland turned down the role because her-then husband Marcus Goodrich advised against her playing it.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #47 Greatest Movie of All Time.
The movie's line "Stella! Hey, Stella!" was voted as the #45 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
Elia Kazan originally resisted the idea of directing the film adaptation as he felt that he had achieved everything he wanted with the stage version. It was only after Tennessee Williams implored him to take on the assignment that Kazan signed on.
Robert Mitchum was offered the role of Stanley Kowalski, but RKO refused to let him do it.
By the time the film was made, the Desire streetcar line had been converted to buses, but streetcars were still used in other parts of the city. The authorities were able to lend the production a car with the Desire destination sign for the opening sequences of Blanche's arrival in the city.
The Desire streetcar was restored in 1998 in New Orleans and is still in service today.
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The play takes place entirely in the Kowalski's apartment and their front square. The movie adds more locations such as a bus station, a bowling alley, a dance hall, a dock, and Stanley's plant.
The Broadway stage production of "A Streetcar Named Desire", directed by Elia Kazan and produced by Irene Mayer Selznick, opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on December 3, 1947 and ran for 855 performances.
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Early in development, William Wyler had expressed an interest in adapting the play with Bette Davis in the part of Blanche.
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The role of Blanche was first offered to Olivia de Havilland, whose wage demands proved to be too excessive.
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While working on the film, Marlon Brando shared an apartment with Jay Kantor, two other MCA representatives and Tony Curtis.
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The poetry quote, " ... and if God choose, I shall love thee better after death", is from "Sonnets from the Portuguese, No. 43" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1850).
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Due to the highly contentious subject matter, no major studio would dare touch the property. 20th Century Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck expressed an interest but had to relinquish the idea when his boss point blank refused to allow it to happen.
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Vivien Leigh replaced Jessica Tandy as Blanche. This was actually the second time the two of them had shared a role. Leigh previously played Ophelia opposite her husband and director Laurence Olivier as Hamlet. Tandy played Ophelia in actor/director John Gielgud's production of Hamlet.
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There was some bad blood between Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando at the beginning of the shoot, but these conflicts had nothing to do with acting style. Brando was simply annoyed at Leigh's typically British manners and stuffiness. The two acting giants eventually became friends as the shoot progressed. Brando's dead-on perfect imitations of Laurence Olivier's Henry V did much to break the ice between him and Leigh.
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When Stella and Blanche get out of the house, there is a guy passing by on his bicycle and singing a traditional, folk Greek song called "Samiotissa".
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Independent producer Charles Feldman bought the screen rights to Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play. He took it to Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, about making it but Zanuck point-blank refused, knowing that the censors would strip all the meaning out of the play.
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There were clashes on the set between Vivien Leigh and her fellow cast members. Besides being the only major cast member not to have come from the Broadway production, Leigh was a classically trained actress, whereas most of the other actors studied under the "Stanislavsky Method," also known as Method acting. But Leigh was determined to make a good picture and create a great performance. She reportedly could not wait to get to the set every day, and was often the last lead actor to leave at day's end.
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Della Robbia blue is a color used in the Italian Majolica bas reliefs of Luca Della Robbia (1400-1482), whose famous gates of the Sacristy of the Cathedral were said by Michelangelo to be worthy of being the Gates of Heaven.
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The varsovienne / varsouvienne / varsoviana, named for Warsaw (Poland) where it originated about 1850, is a slow, graceful dance in 3/4 time with an accented downbeat in alternate measures. It combines elements of the waltz, mazurka, and polka. The dance was popular in 19th-century America, where it was danced to the tune "Put Your Little Foot".
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Elia Kazan's first collaboration with Tennessee Williams.
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Huey Long was the governor of Louisiana (1928-1932) and a U.S Senator from Louisiana (1932-1935). He introduced program called 'Share the Wealth' with the motto 'Every Man A King'.
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Credited on-screen: "The Pulitzer Prize and New York Critics Award Play".
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Joan Fontaine was considered for the role of Stella.
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Patricia Neal was very much thought of for the role of Stella, but was considered at five feet seven inches too tall to be Vivien Leigh's sister.
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Of all the cuts suggested by the Production Code censors, the one that Elia Kazan and Tennessee Williams were most adamantly against was the rape of Blanche. Kazan threatened to walk off the production if the scene was to be deleted. And in an August 1950 missive to Joseph Breen, the director of the Production Code office, Williams wrote, "The rape of Blanche by Stanley is a pivotal, integral truth in the play, without which the play loses its meaning, which is the ravishment of the tender, the sensitive, the delicate, by the savage and brutal forces of modern society. It is a poetic plea for comprehension..."
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Marlon Brando was paid a sizeable $75,000 for his work, partially because of the insider scoop that hailed Brando's acting style as the most revolutionary thing to hit Hollywood since the Talkies. Vivien Leigh received a $100,000 salary, making her the highest paid English screen actress of the day.
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At a test screening, Elia Kazan and producer Charlie Feldman received a shock: the audience laughed at Blanche DuBois. Ever observant of his actors, Kazan discovered that the audience was laughing specifically at the scene when the Young Collector reacts to Blanche's bold and yearning way in which she reaches for him from her door. Kazan eliminated Wright King's reaction shots, which did the trick of quelling the unintended laughter.
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The 5th biggest hit of the year.
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Anne Baxter was very seriously considered for the role of Stella by Elia Kazan.
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For the Broadway production, several Hollywood stars were considered for the role of Stanley Kowalski, including John Garfield, Burt Lancaster, Van Heflin, Edmond O'Brien, John Lund, and Gregory Peck. Marlon Brando, still a relative newcomer to the stage, was originally rejected for the role because he was considered too young and too handsome. It was only because of Brando's agent, Edie Van Cleve, that Brando got a chance to read for Tennessee Williams, who came away from the audition with the assurance that Brando was perfect for the part.
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The Catholic Legion of Decency threatened to sink the box office prospects for the with a Condemned rating. Elia Kazan made a last ditch effort to get his un-cut version seen by the public. He asked Warner Bros. to try releasing the film in both his director's version and the edited version, with each clearly marked so audience members could choose for themselves. Warners said no. Kazan then campaigned for his director's cut to be screened at the Venice Film Festival. Again, Warners refused, since the Legion mandated that only their approved version could be released, and the studio didn't want to risk earning a Condemned rating which would hurt the film at the box office. As a result, Kazan's version would not be seen until Warners restored the film in 1993.
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Elia Kazan worked closely with the production designer to create the authentically sordid look. They had the walls of Stanley and Stella's home built in small sections that could be removed, so that as Blanche feels more constricted and threatened inside the Kowalski home, the walls could literally move in and create a claustrophobic tension within the space.
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For the London stage production, Vivien Leigh bleached her famous brunette locks. But she wore bleached wigs throughout the film since Blanche DuBois was supposed to have ragged-looking hair and look like someone who had led a rough life. Since she did not trust the American hairdressers, Leigh air-mailed her wigs back to London to be cleaned and redressed by wig-maker and theatrical entrepreneur Stanley Hall.
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To prepare for the part of Stanley Kowalski, Marlon Brando began a daily workout routine at a local gym where he exercised with weights to build up his chest and biceps. Prior to this role, the actor was not known for his muscle-bound physique and when Truman Capote first observed Brando's transformation, he said "It was as if a stranger's head had been attached to the brawny body, as in certain counterfeit photographs."
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The script follows the Tennessee Williams play closely with several small changes. However, there are three notably large alterations of the original plot. The first is the exclusion of Blanche's late young husband's homosexuality, which is referred to explicitly in the play, but only obliquely referred to in the movie. In the play, Blanche caught him in bed with another man and she screamed at him, calling him weak, and he killed himself; she blames herself for not understanding his feelings and for his resulting suicide. In the movie, the fact that her husband committed suicide is masked with a line from Blanche that says that "she killed him herself" by leading him to suicide. The second large difference is the rape scene. It is not explicitly shown/described in the play, but it is more obviously alluded to than in the movie. Two of Stanley's key lines in the scene were omitted from the theatrical release: "Tiger, tiger, drop that bottle top," which has since been added back to the movie, and "We've had this date with each other since the beginning!", after which Stanley grabs Blanche and hauls her off to the bed. Both of these changes were made for censorship reasons, but they've changed the story in some basic ways and led to some confusion, especially about the rape scene, which is key to understanding Stanley's final breaking of Blanche. The last change from the play is the ending. In the play, Stella stays with Stanley at the end: "He kneels beside her and his fingers find the opening of her blouse." The reason she left him in the film was that the punishment of the rapist was demanded by the Hollywood moral code.

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