Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
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
During the conversation about the Napoleonic Code between Stella and Stanley, the plate Stanley has been eating off of disappears off of the top of the trunk, which is suddenly open. 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.
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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 »
I just read one user review here that completely misinterpreted the character of Blanche Dubois to the point of my utter exasperation, another one that had absolutely nothing to do with this film, and a third that expressed total boredom with it, so pardon me while I take a deep breath and count to ten so that I don't write what I might regret, even if it does pass the IMDb censors.
"Streetcar Named Desire" is an exceptionally good film due to (1) the superb acting ability of its two leads, Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando, as well as the few members of its outstanding supporting cast, (2) an excellent screenplay by the original playwright, Tennessee Williams, that is packed from beginning to end with explosive, conflict driven dialogue, and (3) the brilliant direction of Elia Kazan.
From the very start, the central character, Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh), is helped onto a streetcar by a perfect stranger, a sailor, in a simple act that neatly ties the film's beginning to her final, heartbreaking line, "I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers". Blanche is lost in the big city, and she becomes more and more hopelessly adrift in the world as the film approaches its very tragic end.
Broke and friendless, Blanche lands in New Orleans where her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter) lives with her coarse, crude husband, Stanley Kowalski (Brando). Having lost her ancestral home on account of family-related debt and having been dismissed under vague circumstances from her position as a high school teacher in the small Mississippi town from where she came, she has no other place for assistance at a time of dire need.
Although Stella is genuinely concerned about Blanche's declining physical and mental state, the shabby apartment where she lives with Stanley consists of two small rooms, barely enough space for the Kowalskis even without Stanley's regular poker group, which seems to park itself there at every available opportunity. What makes matters worse is Stanley's loud and boisterous personality. From the start, Stanley resents the presence of Blanche, which he views as an unwanted, disruptive invasion of his marriage and his home. He regards her with total distrust and disdain. Another reviewer here interpreted this as a cultural clash between the old and the new South, and I think that is a very astute observation. In any case, Stanley is totally unsympathetic to Blanche's plight and looks upon her with nothing but suspicion and contempt.
Blanche is trapped in the claustrophobic and confining prison of the dingy Kowalski apartment. For a fleeting moment, she believes that Mitch (Karl Malden), Stanley's poker buddy and co-worker, represents her one bright hope to escape from the walls that continue to close around her, but he turns out to be anything other than her desperately needed "knight in shining armor". Tragically, Mitch, a weak individual who is still dominated by a strong mother well into his adulthood, is the last person with the ability to give Blanche the love that she so urgently needs and to whisk her away from the stifling, debilitating grip of the Kowalski dungeon. Blanche's one, last hope for personal redemption soon fades away forever.
I read that, under different circumstances, the lead roles could have been awarded to Olivia de Haviland and John Garfield. As much as I like them both, this would have been a much different movie with them as the leads. Ms. Leigh, a stunning Englishwoman who managed to score two Oscars for playing two iconic, southern American characters, portrays a mentally declining Blanche with great depth and compassion. As to Mr. Brando's brutish and obnoxious Stanley, you've got to see him in action to appreciate his magnificent performance. As in the case of his Terry Malloy in "On the Waterfront", I don't believe that Stanley's most famous lines from this film would be among the most imitated to this day if they weren't delivered so powerfully by Brando in the first place. "Hey, Stel-la!" Sorry. I just couldn't help myself.
While Brando was beaten out of the Oscar by Humphrey Bogart in "African Queen" (not my favorite Bogey movie by a long shot), Leigh, Malden, and Hunter swept these awards for their performances here and deservedly so. The memorable role of feisty neighbor Eunice also launched Pat Hillias's successful television career throughout the 1950's, the golden age of the medium, until her tragic and untimely death in 1960.
If you want to watch a most impressive and powerful interpretation of a strong, dynamic script that is worthy of such a talented cast and director, don't miss this one.
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