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2 reviews, 38 user ratings

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Streetcar Named Desire, A
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by Matt Mulcahey

"Brando's Stanley Kowalski: The most influential performance in film history"
5 stars

Most of you probably know someone who refuses to watch old movies. Belittling the hammy acting style and ultra-conservative subject matter, they prefer the emotional realism of today’s best actors and the themes of sex and violence that have consumed cinema for the greater part of the last three decades. However, these two distinctly different eras have a bridge between them, and the exact moment of metamorphosis can be pinpointed with the release of Elia Kazan’s adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.

Set in the seedy French Quarter of New Orleans, Stanley Kowalski (Brando) and his wife Stella (Kim Hunter) lead a simple, passionate existence void of pretense or deep thought. Their world is thrown into upheaval with the arrival of Stella’s sister Blanche, a former schoolteacher and quickly deteriorating southern belle who has lost the family homestead and her job but isn’t forthcoming with the details.

A Streetcar Named Desire is a battle of wills between Brando’s Stanley, he of the brutish indifference to manners, feelings and refinement, and Leigh’s Stella, floating in a dream world full of beauty, delicacy and class. It’s also head-on collision between two acting styles: the classical theatrics of esteemed British actress Leigh, with perfect diction and impeccable preparation, versus the Method approach of a young Brando, with a delivery consisting of mumbles, slurs and pauses.

As with all of William’s work, the film is ripe with subtext, exposed through the layers of Brando’s performance. While Stanley Kowalski could easily come off as a pre-feminism Neanderthal misogynist, Brando refuses to allow his character to be a one-dimensional personification of overbearing male evil. Behind Kowalski’s violent outbursts and single-minded cruelty is an uneducated, inarticulate man who can’t understand or control his own emotions. Brando filled Kowalski with such humanity and sympathy that the prevailing film censor boards and conservative America complained that the film glorified Stanley and, as was required at the time, failed to adequately punish him for his wrongdoing.

The raw sexuality that Brando exuded also disturbed America’s prudes, as sex was a forbidden subject in American film circa 1951. It wasn’t the Cary Grant sexiness, which said, “I’d just love to have a romantic diner and then maybe a sweet goodnight kiss.” Brando strolls onto the screen in a skintight, sweat drenched T-shirt dripping with primal, animalistic sensuality that screams, “I want to fuck you right now.”

In the end the emphasis on sexuality and the dark, adult subject matter was too much for the Breen Office and the other censoring boards in charge of keeping America wholesome, and now-restored cuts were required for the films’ release (For anyone who believes that America has always been a safe-haven for freedom of speech and expression, I encourage you to read about the Breen Office, the House On Un-American Activities and the Blacklist).

While Brando has become a punchline for many, the genesis of all the great actors from the last half-century, from De Niro to Penn, lies in this one performance. Before he decided acting was a joke and became a whore to the highest bidder (i.e. playing Superman’s father), Brando possessed a volcanic, blistering intensity and a naturalness that have rarely been duplicated and never been surpassed. And it is Brando’s presence that makes A Streetcar Named Desire a film so powerful and timeless that it just may make the most stubborn of contemporary film devotees yearn to further explore classic Hollywood.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2081&reviewer=255
originally posted: 06/26/02 00:45:12
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User Comments

4/12/12 keith miron Too slow and talkitive 1 stars
1/26/10 art ONE OF BRANDO"S MASTERPIECE"S! 4 stars
5/04/08 Bob Smith The movie was not great at all 2 stars
10/07/07 mr.mike notable mostly for the performances 4 stars
7/27/07 R.W. Welch This cast could do the phone book and make it interesting. 4 stars
11/27/06 Doug the best film acting on celluoid.Vivien Leigh is BRILLIANT! An absolute classic!! 5 stars
11/02/06 Danielle I think this movie is a bit overated,and I couldnt see why Viven's performance was so great 3 stars
3/31/04 Rose Marlon Brando, hot, Vivien Leigh, phenomenal, great writing by Tennesee Williams 4 stars
12/19/03 Kent Mesmerizing, great classic! 5 stars
12/08/03 amy fab 5 stars
12/06/03 john phenomenal adaptatopn of the play - just the scene on the steps alone is worth it! 5 stars
11/24/03 Carl Handratty Slyder is an uneducated cockbite who believes vulgarity can mask stupidity. Get rid of him 4 stars
11/23/03 La :) i've seen the other 2 versions, and this is the best. marlin brando is gorgeous 4 stars
11/18/03 Matthias Henkel excellent performance in one of the most tantalizing plays ever written 5 stars
11/10/03 Miss Loafy Marlon Brando makes me want to die. The sensuality is too much. I like rewinded the meow :) 4 stars
8/05/03 Putski A ho-hum named desire 1 stars
7/21/03 JL Vivien Leigh is the best! 5 stars
6/15/03 Anne a typical hollywood ending. they should of stuck to the original on that one. 5 stars
5/29/03 The Bitchfucker Brando and Leigh are great. The movie is dopey soap opera theatrics, horribly overrated 3 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink Jessica, Talonsoft and Katherine!!! Thou shall burn in HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/06/03 natasha_theobald powerful performances of brilliant writing 5 stars
12/05/02 jocelyn vera it was ok 5 stars
7/14/02 Charles Tatum If you don't like this film, seek professional help 5 stars
5/19/02 Kristen It was hard watching my idol being tortured by Brando, but it was one of Viv's best 5 stars
5/09/02 Robert N. De Santis One of the most beautifully realized and shattering films that I have ever seen. 5 stars
2/26/02 Jessica shitty movie 1 stars
10/21/01 Andrew Carden Broadway Musical: Great, Movie: What Do Ya Think? 5 stars
3/07/01 katharine does anyone else think Hunter overdid the jumping on Brando all the time?! 3 stars
1/15/01 Skip If you liked this, check out BABY DOLL, also by Tennessee Williams. 5 stars
12/14/00 Nome Wow! Marlon's AWESOME! 5 stars
12/12/00 Francine Awesome 5 stars
10/28/00 Mic Stirring adaptation (even slight change of ending justified) with perfect casting. 5 stars
10/24/00 Helen Northington It was really good. 5 stars
9/01/00 Simsey Pretty damn good 5 stars
8/10/00 Elvisfan Blows almost everything else out of the water, of course 5 stars
6/02/00 Kevin Probably the best film ever made...Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter...wow 5 stars
4/16/00 Sofia Kavakoglou It was one of the most remarkable movies I have ever seen in my entire life! 5 stars
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  DVD: 02-May-2006



Directed by
  Elia Kazan

Written by
  Oscar Saul
  Tennessee Williams

  Vivien Leigh
  Marlon Brando
  Kim Hunter
  Karl Malden
  Rudy Bond
  Nick Dennis

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