Blanche DuBois, a high school English teacher with an aristocratic background from Auriol, Mississippi, decides to move to live with her sister and brother-in-law, Stella and Stanley Kowalski, in New Orleans after creditors take over the family property, Belle Reve. Blanche has also decided to take a break from teaching as she states the situation has frayed her nerves. Knowing nothing about Stanley or the Kowalskis' lives, Blanche is shocked to find that they live in a cramped and run down ground floor apartment - which she proceeds to beautify by putting shades over the open light bulbs to soften the lighting - and that Stanley is not the gentleman that she is used to in men. As such, Blanche and Stanley have an antagonistic relationship from the start. Blanche finds that Stanley's hyper-masculinity, which often displays itself in physical outbursts, is common, coarse and vulgar, being common which in turn is what attracted Stella to him. Beyond finding Blanche's delicate ...Written by
When Mitch embraces Blanche, she puts her arm around his shoulders, which changes between shots, either her left one or her right one. See more »
Can I help you, ma'am?
Why, they told me to take a streetcar named Desire and then transfer to one called Cemetery and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields.
See more »
Kazan was forced to cut several seconds from the scene where Stanley calls Stella down from Eunice's apartment, particularly the shots of Stella lingering at the top of the stairs and regarding her husband with a look of pure lust on her face before slowly making her way down and meeting him in a passionate embrace. Instead, several prints had Stella shadowed, opening the door to exit the apartment, and following with a shot of her already halfway down the steps. The music cue was also different: the raw, sultry jazz score was replaced with a more flowery romantic one. Both the full scene and the original music cue were restored in the "director's cut" DVD. See more »
With a screenplay by Tennessee Williams, direction from Elia Kazan and quite possibly the greatest performance ever in Vivien Leigh's Blanche DuBois- you can't go wrong.
This movie is dark, gritty and, at times, disturbing in its portrayals of domestic abuse and mental illness. It's astonishing how much of a punch this movie still has after all these years. This just goes to show what a true genius Tennessee Williams really was. The characters he wrote, with all their own complexities and contradictions, and the script with its haunting poetry and now iconic lines are all classic.
But what good is a great script without great actors? Well, luckily, the cast couldn't have been better. Here we have a young Marlon Brando as the brutish Stanley Kowalski, who is truly ferocious in the role. We then have Kim Hunter who gives a great performance as the weak-willed Stella. Stella is the most likeable character in the movie for all she wants is for everyone to get along. Karl Malden is equally great as Mitch, who is seemingly weak and simple and serves as a contrast to Stanley's brutality. Then we have Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois. As I said above, I believe Leigh's performance here to be the greatest ever to be committed to film and here's why- Blanche DuBois is probably one of the most complicated characters ever written. She's a compulsive liar, who lives in a world of her own, choosing to create her own reality rather than acknowledge her bleak surroundings. She's a snob, a hypocrite and a user but at the same time she's an underdog who's had a tough life and just wants to be loved. Tennessee Williams himself said of Vivien's performance that 'she brought everything I intended to the role and even much more than I had dared dream of' which pretty much sums up her performance here. She truly gives herself to the darkness of Blanche DuBois, she's unpredictable, tormented and haunting while still somehow sympathetic. Through Leigh's mastery of her character we see that Blanche is really just a daffodil in a windstorm rather than a bad person. Every time I watch this film I notice a new nuance in her performance, whether it's a look in her eye that I hadn't noticed before or a change in her voice as Blanche lets her mask slip- never has there been such a true embodiment of a character.
So all this considered, with Kazan's brilliant direction, great cinematography and the unique "jazzy" score, is why I consider 'A Streetcar Named Desire' one of the greatest films ever made. It's not a film for everyone- it's heavy from the start, it's quite talky and most of the film takes place within the Kowalski's apartment but if you want a movie with brilliant acting and a dark, poetic script then there's no better film than this.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this