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Tafero's DVD Reviews of the Day (0025) - A Streetcar Named Desire - 1951

This is a dvd movie review of a Streetcar Named Desire - 1951. This Tennessee Williams play is faithfully adapted by the direction of Elia Kazan.

0025 – A Streetcar Named Desire – 1951 – Directed by Elia Kazan, who also directed the successful stage production and starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Vivian Leigh, and Kim Hunter in the major roles. The Pulitzer Prize winning play was written by Tennessee Williams, who also wrote the screenplay with the help of veteran screenwriter, Oscar Saul. The film copped three major acting awards; Leigh nudging out Hepburn for best actress, Hunter, for best supporting actress and Malden for best supporting actor. The role of Blanche Dubois has become an icon of both stage and film lore. Every actress in the world over the age of forty has wanted to play this role and even in modern times, and there is no shortage of actresses who want to play this part on stage. Leigh’s portrayal in Streetcar Named Desire as Blanche is even better than her effort in Gone With the Wind, for which she is much-better remembered for. Brando, on the other hand, gives a supremely visceral performance as Stanley Kowalski, an animalistic, brute of a man who is not as stupid as he looks. Karl Malden turns in a very neat performance as the hoodwinked suitor of Blanche, and Kim Hunter, who is surrounded by a powerhouse cast, gives it her best shot as the passionate Stella. Kazan does not miss a beat in his mesmerizing manipulation of each of the characters on the screen. You can literally feel the various levels of heat on the screen. The film was nominated for and won a bevy of Academy Awards for 1951. This is easily one of Brando’s top three performances of all time on the silver screen.

The story is a simple one. Blanche visits her sister, Stella in New Orleans and the lecherous Stanley makes a half-hearted attempt at seducing her. Meanwhile, Harold (Karl Malden) pursues Blanche at a purer level until he finds out that Blanche has had less than a ladylike past. Blanche goes off the deep end after everyone finds out about her shady past and Stanley and Stella get back together again. The characters are completely faithful to the Tennessee Williams version of the play. It is soap at the very highest level, but soap, nevertheless. Although I have rated this film in my top thirty; I did so because of Marlon Brando, not because of Vivian Leigh. I loved the job Malden did in this film and he almost steals the movie. It is still a must see film.

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