“A Streetcar Named Desire” was released on September 18th in 1951 and it is still a fascinating, wrenching character study
Revisiting Elia Kazan’s 1951 “A Streetcar Named Desire”
“A Streetcar Named Desire” written by famed author Tennessee Williams, was released on September 18th in 1951 and it is still a fascinating, wrenching character study. It intelligently describes the needs and feelings of its four main characters, and director Elia Kazan uses moody lighting and subtle camera movements only to emphasize on the incredible performances of the leads, who all got Oscar nominations for the picture and all won except for, ironically, Brando, even though this turned is often hailed as the most influential male portrayal on screen. The great Method actor makes Stanley into a riveting, rough, sensual man’s man. His behavior is unacceptable, yet his blunt attitude and animal aura only make him more appealing, to his wife at least. Played by Kim Hunter, Stella is a tossed around housewife who can’t help but forgive her careless man. Then there’s Karl Malden, who also played along Brando in Kazan’s “On The Waterfront” and in the Brando-directed Western “One-Eyed Jacks”. Malden is a more conventional but still very effective actor, who carefully reveals his character’s nature. His Mitch is a sad, lonely man who desperately needs somebody, anybody. So does Blanche, and their thing could lead to marriage for all the wrong reasons if Blanche’s twisted past doesn’t become an issue. And what about Blanche, whom Vivien Leigh propels into dangerous emotional grounds. Leigh bares all, making us forget that she’s just acting. “A Streetcar Named Desire” is about the senselessness of desire, about fading beauty and shattered dreams. It’s a powerful masterpiece which still feels oh so relevant after 66 years.
By Ken Warren, 2018
Directed by: Elia Kazan
Starring: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter
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