REVIEWED
7/20/04

STORY



LOOK

A Streetcar Named Desire
Director: Elia Kazan
Year: 1951
TRT: 2:05


This could be a lot better if not for the overcompensating, melodramatic acting by lead Vivien Leigh as the slightly-off older sister. Sure it's part of her character I guess, but man, it's fuckin annoying at the beginning. I guess that's kinda the point, this "respectable" southern belle finding herself so out of place in the dirty urban confines of New Orleans. Fortunately the rest of the cast is solid in this adaptation from the stage. Marlon Brando is perfect as the somewhat surly, base husband Stanley having to put up with the sister-in-law. Pretty gritty and probably pretty risque for '51 considering some of the subject matter. It's a good dialogue-driven drama to the end, and even Leigh's character comes around for an ending that isn't your standard Hollywood fare.

Blanche (Leigh) moves in with her younger sister Stella (Kim Hunter) and her husband Stanley after the loss of the family estate. Tensions mount as time passes and Blanche sticks around. Stanley digs a bit into the somewhat questionable past Blanche has led, and while there may be a way out as Stanley tries to hook Blanche up with his somewhat stiff friend Mitch (Karl Malden), the past catches up and states of mind and relationships crumble from the pressure.

Not exactly an action-driven flick, to be sure, but a good adaption of Tennessee Williams' play to the screen with Brando making the transition from stage to film with ease. Considering its pretty limited scenery (taking place mostly in the young couple's apartment), it's shot well and has some pretty inventive audio cues from time to time. Won 4 Oscars, including Best Actress by Leigh (who'd of thunk, considering Gone With the Wind), Supporting Actress by Hunter, Supporting Actor by Malden, and Art/Set Direction by Richard Day & George Hopkins.

Great Scene: After a poker game at their place, Stanley gets a bit out of hand. But he knows his limitations, and his utter remorse woos Stella back to him yet again.

DVD Notes: Not very clean transfer from WB that is apparently the "Director's Cut" of the film, which goes a bit more into the somewhat seedier side of the story, apparently. Some brief bios on the majors are also included, and has subtitles. Overall a pretty lame presentation by WB for what is a pretty decent film.