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A Streetcar Named Desire

27 Sep

It’s a hot, humid, summer afternoon in New Orleans when Blanche DuBois (played by Vivien Leigh) arrives in the French Quarter. She’s come to visit her sister Stella (by Kim Hunter) and Stella’s husband Stanley (by Marlon Brando). Although Blanche is accustomed to a far more genteel lifestyle, surrounded by the finer things in life, she wants to stay for a while and she moves in with the couple in their small, dingy flat. This part of town is known for the passion of its inhabitants and its often dramatic way of life. Blance thinks Stanley is an uncouth, violent, brute and is completely mystified by Stella’s passion for him. We learn that as their parents aged, the sisters’ marvellous family estate “Belle Reve” was let run down, then sold for a pittance – and Blanche has since fallen on hard times. Stanley thinks Blanche has cheated Stella out of her share of the proceeds from “Belle Reve”, so Blanche and Stanley are continually at odds. One day one of Stanley’s friends, Mitch (by Karl Malden), visits Stanley with his poker buddies to play cards and he is instantly entranced by Blanche. She manages to maintain her air of mystique with Mitch and he is quickly smitten by this intriguing and demure southern belle… that is until Stanley tells him the real truth about Blanche and her previous exploits in her home town. Will the course of true love run smooth for Blanche now? and will she ever make amends with Stanley?  ….

This movie is a classic.  If you haven’t seen Marlon Brando in the movies from this era (but only the more recent ones), this will open your eyes and explain exactly what all the fuss was all about. He certainly has the x-factor here.  It’s hard to pin-point exactly what it is about him, but his presence on screen just commands your eyes to follow his every move. This movie is also responsible for Brando’s classic line …. “Stella! …. hey, Stella-a-a-a-ah !!!”.  For 1951, the themes and issues covered in this movie are quite adult and controversial and there are scenes that involve partial nudity (including the buff young Brando with his shirt off …), which again, would have been quite risque for movies of this era. Without exception, all four key actors put in marvellous performances and at the Academy Awards (Oscar) presentation in 1952, Karl Malden, Vivien Leigh and Kim Hunter won awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role; Actress in a Leading Role and Actress in a Supporting Role (respectively), and the movie won an oscar for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration. It was also nominated for several others including Best Actor in a Leading Role for Marlon Brando, Best Director for Elia Kazan and Best Picture. From the production and scene development, it is clear that this is an adaptation of the play (by Tennesee Williams) and he developed the screenplay for this (another oscar nominated contribution). Overall, the movie stands the test of time pretty well.

Made in 1951.  Directed by Elia Kazan

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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Movies

 

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