“A Streetcar Named Desire” Review

5 December, 2016

Year of Release: 1951
Director: Elia Kazan
Screenwriters: Tennessee Williams, Oscar Saul 
Director of Photography: Harry Stradling Sr.
Cast: Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh

Synopsis: Upon relocating to the city to live with her sister, a mentally unstable woman finds herself confronted by the harshness of reality after her brother-in-law’s aggressive yet inquisitive tendencies push her to breaking point in a series of ferocious arguments.

Streetcar Named Desire Review:

As one of Tennessee Williams’ most widely adapted and studied plays, Elia Kazan gives “A Streetcar Named Desire” the care and attention it deserves as he crafts each set piece, musical insert, and hot-tempered interaction between his characters with the precision of a skilled watchmaker. While the play itself provides the bulk of the film’s substance, as allusion and foreshadowing rise to the surface within the words of each bitter confrontation, Kazan goes further with the screenplay than was ever expected as his cardboard sets open up to reveal a haunting amount of emotional depth.

Blanche and Stanley are, in many ways, two sides of the same coin. They’re selfish, heavy drinkers, and they clash at full force the moment they cross paths. But, at the same time, Williams presents them as literal opposites; one a self-absorbed Southern snob who lives in a world of materialism and fakery, the other a common city boy with a destructive temper and burly presence.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” is a picture-perfect theatre piece featuring a pair of Hollywood superstars locking horns in a fight to the death. While a timelessly handsome, and still relatively unknown, Brando saunters on-screen in the role he was born to play, Vivien Leigh gives her final great performance before she was handed one of the most well-earned Academy Awards in Hollywood history. It’s a battle of wills between a veteran and a rookie but one with a level playing field and sensational results.


Although undoubtedly stagey and aesthetically modest, “A Streetcar Named Desire” is a whirlwind of neurosis and emotional abuse. While fiction and fakery tar Blanche’s image, Stanley proves to be a ruthless bully and a ferocious predator. He’s a lion roaming his territory, a fact made even more painful by Brando’s distinctive handsomeness and charisma. His droopy eyes and plump lips are a thing of captivating beauty yet Stanley is a brutal and bitter man. He’s a person of contradiction and wonder, a lump of coal locked inside the chiselled physique of a real life statue of David.

 

   

Summary
Review Date
Movie
A Streetcar Named Desire
Rating
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