A Streetcar Named Desire
- TV Movie
- 2h 36m
Tennessee Williams' Blanche DuBois (Jessica Lange) lives in New Orleans with her sister, Stella, and brutish brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski (Alec Baldwin).Tennessee Williams' Blanche DuBois (Jessica Lange) lives in New Orleans with her sister, Stella, and brutish brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski (Alec Baldwin).Tennessee Williams' Blanche DuBois (Jessica Lange) lives in New Orleans with her sister, Stella, and brutish brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski (Alec Baldwin).
There may be those that question the point of this made for television version, and generally because the film is so good and it would be difficult to equal or better it. Personally don't think that should be the case, it's just another version of the play and plays, of all different types of qualities (even some of lesser Shakespeare has more than one version available), often have more than one adaptation/production. Williams' work is no exception, well his best anyhow, so the likes of 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof', 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and 'The Glass Menagerie'.
Do prefer the film version on its own terms, but on the most part 'A Streetcar Named Desire' is a worthy version. It is truer to the source material, with what was omitted in the film (now with censorship not getting in the way this time), intact, same with every location, every line, every one of the play's bold themes and the character writing deeper. It is faithful but not too faithful.
Where the film scores over this version though is that to me it had more of the smoldering passion that is a little lacking here and this didn't leave me as moved. The direction, while always thoughtful and never distasteful, isn't as pulling no punches as Kazan's and while the performances are very good, even great, here from personal opinion none reach the same iconic level. While details wise it is more faithful, which is to be lauded as the play is one of Williams' best, to me the film captured the spirit of the play more.
Judging it on its own, there isn't anything done disastrously. There are a few repetitive shots that make us aware of the camera and do agree that the attitudes of Blanche and Stella to Stanley's rape do not ring true, something that should have hurt and anger pouring out but treated with indifference.
For those short-comings though, there are also a good number of virtues. The production values are pleasing on the eyes, the locations having surprising authenticity and the camera work is mostly fluid, the odd bit of repetition aside. Williams' dialogue is intelligent and poignant, wordy but that is a hardly a fault with the production and have never considered it a short-coming with the play either (with lesser Williams plays like 'Orpheus Descending' it is more noticeable and less forgivable). The storytelling may not have the same amount of impact but the faithfulness is not something that works against the production, although the film smolders more there is hardly a shortage of tension and emotion. The climax is quite powerful.
None of the performances are on the same level as the iconic performances of the film, but they are very strong in their own way. Jessica Lange is a remarkably nuanced if perhaps not frail enough Blanche, while not overdoing too much the manipulation, and Diane Lane, at times telling a lot through her face, is heart-wrenching as Stella, one can really feel the character's conflict. John Goodman does an admirable job in trying to break away from the comedic work he was famous for at the time (which must have been very difficult to do), and does so sympathetically if perhaps a touch too soft at times. Which brings me to Alec Baldwin, was worried that he would be a disaster having read some of the reviews, but did appreciate that his interpretation was different from Brando's and not an imitation, he doesn't smolder as much and isn't as brutish but the more human approach that he brought to this difficult role was interesting and he did it well from personal view.
On the whole, worth a watch. 7/10
- Sep 21, 2019