5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2009
We watched this film in class while studying the play, so I was initially encouraged to view it critically. I adored Brando's portrayal of Stanley: very true to the character and with the raw, animal magnitism the part needs.
Leigh, I felt (at the risk of angering traditionalists) over acted Blanche, an easy trap of the part. Although she performed admirably, somehow I just didn't believe Blanche's emotions. I felt Leigh's portrayal lacked substance. But then, she was one of the first to play Blanche, and certainly the most famous to first portray her.
Hunter tries her best as the upstaged Stella, a part frequently underplayed and overlooked. In my opinion Stella is perhaps the most interesting role, and the one with the most freedom for interpretation. I felt Hunter could have done better: she seems to allow herself (and Stella) to shrink into the background when she could have used the intruiging aspects of her part to pull herself to centre stage.
However, for me, the talent of the actors cannot redeem this rendition of Streetcar. Perhaps it was the victim of censorship at the time, but I find it hard to believe that ALL the changes were due to that. For one thing, at the end Stella is NOT supposed to leave Stanley - Blanche is taken away, Stella stays and it is then implied that she goes on to have sex with Stanley (again!). Why was this taken out of the film? As we do not see the inevitable sex scene (Williams ends the play with Stella sobbing "luxuriously" and Stanley undoing her blouse) why did they change the end? Was it impossible at that time to imagine that a woman might stay with such a husband simply because of desire? That was one of the points of the play.
And of course there's the fact that the film slides subltely over the fact that Blanche's late husband was gay and she caught him with another man (the reason they substitute for his suicide is frankly ridiculus). And who can forget the glaring absence of the rape? This is what pushes Blance over the edge: it is a vital part of the play. Yes, I can understand that this was a victim of censorship, but they could still have made it obvious with Stanley pushing Blanche onto the bed, the camera panning away and her screaming or perhaps, (to be more tame), sobbing. Therefore nothing explicit.
These discrepancies sadden me, mostly because this version was built up to be the best representation of Williams' play. But apart from that, this is a good version, and I would recommend it, as long as the viewer doesn't expect accuracy.
on 15 February 2015
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE  [60th Anniversary Edition] [Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook] [Blu-ray] [US Import] Perhaps The Most Thrilling Display of Ensemble Acting in this All American Film!
`A Streetcar Named Desire'  [The Original Restored Version] is the Elia Kazan and Tennessee Williams film moviegoers would have not have seen, because of the Legion of Decency censorship occurred at the last minute in 1951. Here it makes its Blu-ray debuted, stunningly restored and digital re-mastered to brilliant 1080p clarity. This classic is presented in a collectable, premium 40 page Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook, with behind-the-scenes photography, production notes, biographies and more! Plus Three minutes of previously unseen footage underscoring, among other things, the sexual tension between Blanche DuBois [Vivien Leigh] and Stanley Kowalski [Marlon Brando], and Stella Kowalski's [Kim Hunter] passion for husband Stanley Kowalski. This is the Original Restored Version
FILM FACT: `A Streetcar Named Desire' won Four Awards at the 1951 24th Academy Awards® where the film set an OSCAR® record when it became the first film to win in three acting categories and they are as follows: Won: Vivien Leigh for Best Actress. Won: Karl Malden for Best Supporting Actor. Won: Kim Hunter for Best Supporting Actress. Won: Richard Day and George Hopkins for Best Art Direction for Set Decoration in Black-and-White. Nominated: Charles K. Feldman [Producer] for Best Motion Picture. Nominated: Elia Kazan for Best Director. Nominated: Marlon Brando for Best Actor. Nominated: Tennessee Williams for Best Writing and Screenplay. Nominated: Harry Stradling for Best Cinematography in Black-and-White. Nominated: Lucinda Ballard for Best Costume Design in Black-and-White. Nominated: Alex North for Best Music, Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. Nominated: Nathan Levinson for Best Sound Recording. Its contributions continue to be celebrated, and holds a place on the AFI's list of Top 100 films.
Cast: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias, Wright King, Richard Garrick, Ann Dere, Edna Thomas, Mickey Kuhn, Mel Archer (uncredited), Dahn Ben Amotz (uncredited), Marietta Canty (uncredited), John George (uncredited), John Gonetos (uncredited), Chester Jones (uncredited), Lyle Latell (uncredited), Maxie Thrower (uncredited), Charles Wagenheim (uncredited), John B. Williams (uncredited) and Buck Woods (uncredited)
Director: Elia Kazan
Producer: Charles K. Feldman
Screenplay: Tennessee Williams and Oscar Saul (adaptation)
Composer: Alex North
Cinematography: Harry Stradling
Audio: English: 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, French: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, German: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Italian: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono and Portuguese: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Romanian, Slovenian and Swedish
Running Time: 125 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: `A Streetcar Named Desire' originally garnered most of the drama prizes awards when it was playing on Broadway. But with director Elia Kazan and a simply superlative cast have fashioned a motion picture that throbs with passion and poignancy. Indeed, through the haunting performance England's great Vivien Leigh gives in the heart-breaking role of Tennessee Williams's deteriorating Southern belle and through the mesmerising moods with the help of Elia Kazan and with his brilliant techniques that you view on the screen, this picture has now become a fine, if not finer, than the stage play. Inner torments are seldom projected with such sensitivity and clarity on the screen.
Blanche DuBois is an aging schoolteacher who leaves her hometown under mysterious circumstances and stays with her pregnant sister Stella in New Orleans. Stanley Kowalski, Stella Kowalski's brutish husband, resents Blanche DuBois's presence and accuses her of squandering the family inheritance. Stanley Kowalski sets about tearing down the fragile world of illusion with which Blanche DuBois attempts to surround herself.
Of course, the first factor in this triumph is Tennessee Williams's original play, which embraced, among its many virtues, an essential human conflict in visual terms. The last brave, defiant, hopeless struggle of the lonely and decaying Blanche du Bois to hold on to her faded gentility against the heartless badgering of her roughneck brother-in-law is a tangible cat-and-dog set to, marked with manifold physical episodes as well as a wealth of fluctuations of verbally fashioned images and moods. And all of these graphic components have been fully preserved in Oscar Saul's film script and availed of by the brilliant director Elia Kazan in his cinematic tour-de-force.
No less brilliant, however, within his area is Marlon Brando in the role of the loud, lusty, brawling, brutal, amoral Polish brother-in-law. Marlon Brando created the role in the Broadway stage play and he carries over all the energy and the steel-spring characteristics that made him vivid on the stage. But here, where we're so much closer to him, he seems that much more highly charged, his despairs seem that much more pathetic, and his comic moments that much more slyly enjoyed.
Other actors from the Broadway cast of the stage play, Kim Hunter as the torn young sister and wife, Karl Malden as a timid, boorish suitor, Nick Dennis as a pal, and all the rest fill out the human pattern within a sleazy environment that is so fitly and graphically created that you can almost sense its sweatiness and smells. Alex North's incidental music deserves prominent commendation, too, as do all of the technical aspects of this film which Charles K. Feldman has produced.
Needless to say, the filming of `A Streetcar Named Desire' was more problematic than the stage production. Vivien Leigh clashed with Elia Kazan over her interpretation of Blanche DuBois and also had problems connecting with her fellow cast members who were trained in the "Stanislavsky Method." "In many ways she was Blanche DuBois." Marlon Brando said in his autobiography, Vivien Leigh was memorably beautiful, one of the great beauties of the screen, but she was also vulnerable, and her own life had been very much like that of Tennessee Williams's wounded butterfly...like Blanche DuBois, and was beginning to dissolve mentally and frayed at the end physically.
While in production, `A Streetcar Named Desire' began to encounter resistance from the film industry's self-regulating production code office with references to the sexuality of Blanche DuBois's deceased husband were removed and the harsh original ending was altered, with Stella rejecting her husband rather than remaining by his side. Still, the film encountered controversy during its release and Warner Bros. deleted an additional five minutes of material, it was later added back in a 1993 restoration, which included dialogue references to Blanche DuBois's past promiscuity and visual evidence of the lustful relationship between Stanley Kowalski and Stella Kowalski.
All the troubles were well worth it in the end because `A Streetcar Named Desire' is now considered a landmark film in terms of the ensemble performances. Elia Kazan's direction and the evocative art direction by Richard Day. The derelict New Orleans tenement is given a convincing presence through the accumulation of image details, such as crumbling stucco and bricks, peeling wallpaper, streaks of dirt on the walls and the dramatic courtyard staircase with wrought iron railings. In collaboration with Harry Stradling's evocative textures of light and shadow, the sets provide crucial atmospheric support for the actors' naturalistic performances. Plus the Composer Alex North's haunting film score, which unfortunately was only nominated for Best Music, Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.
While in production, `A Streetcar Named Desire' began to encounter resistance from the film industry's self-regulating production code office. References to Blanche DuBois's deceased [gay] husband were removed and the harsh original ending was altered, with Stella Kowalski rejecting her husband rather than remaining by his side. Still, the film encountered controversy during its release and Warner Bros. deleted an additional five minutes of material, it was later added back in a 1993 restoration, which included dialogue references to Blanche DuBois's past promiscuity and visual evidence of the lustful relationship between Stanley Kowalski and Stella Kowalski.
All the trouble was worth it in the end because ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is now considered a landmark classic film in terms of the ensemble performances, Elia Kazan's direction and the evocative art direction by Richard Day. The derelict New Orleans tenement is given a convincing presence through the accumulation of details such as crumbling stucco and bricks, peeling wallpaper, streaks of dirt on the walls and the dramatic courtyard staircase with wrought iron railings. In collaboration with Harry Stradling's evocative textures of light and shadow, the sets provide crucial atmospheric support for the actors' naturalistic performances.
Blu-ray Video Quality – This Blu-ray has a stunning 1080p encoded transfer, with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 that was achieved with many of the original film's black-and-white elements. It is typical of the fine work Warner Home Video has done with some it prestige titles like ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘Casablanca.’ Fine detail is more variable, struggling a bit in wider shots, and faring better in close ups, yet film grain looks intact with no evidence of excessive noise reduction measures. Dupes and other image manipulations (one standing out more than others), made in the original edit, can be starkly obvious next to the sharper and tighter extra supplements material. But the transfer ultimately proves faithful to the source elements, even though those elements may not always look the most perfect.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – `A Streetcar Named Desire' is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that `A Streetcar Named Desire' is more than sixty years old, the sound quality still impresses. Sure, there are modest limitations in fidelity, but the track is a very strong performer. Alex North’s music comes across with good sense of character. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves a generally smooth quality to the soundtrack. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
BONUS: Collectible Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook: The nicely produced book packaging that includes cast and crew biographies, background on the production and numerous photographs.
Audio Commentary: Commentary by Actor Karl Malden, and Film Historians Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young: features supplements producer Laurent Bouzereau hosting and we get comments from co- star Karl Malden [Actor], Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian] and Jeff Young (all recorded separately). Jeff Young got to know Elia Kazan quite well when Jeff Young was an executive of Paramount Pictures and has some good anecdotes about the director Elia Kazan. Rudy Behlmer contributes more of an overall historical perspective and Karl Malden is able to give an actor's viewpoint, on both the stage and screen versions. Some of Karl Malden's comments about Marlon Brando in his early career are quite surprising, and there are some wonderful anecdotes shared about the original Broadway run, including some great stories about the "mother hen," the original star Jessica Tandy. This is an extremely worthwhile and informative piece that should appeal equally to scholars and film fans alike.
Special Feature Length Profile of Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey  [480i] [4:3] [1:15:30] Written and directed by film critic and film historian Richard Schickel, and narrated by Eli Wallach, the documentary traces Elia Kazan's career from his beginnings as a stage actor to his work as an award-winning film director. An extensive interview with the director himself provides much of the film's structure and content, following a predictable pattern that alternates between the interview and material from the films. As it focuses almost exclusively on his directing work, there's little examination of Elia Kazan's controversial actions related to the Hollywood Blacklist of the 1950s. Nevertheless, it provides a fitting tribute to a very talented director. We also get a very interesting insight into the journey Elia Kazan journey from his native land where he was born and eventually ending up directing top quality Hollywood and New York films that have won endless plaudits. This is a definite documentary not to be missed.
Special Feature Documentary: A Streetcar on Broadway  [480i] [4:3] [22:00] This feature documentary describes with the development, production, and reception of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning play how it made its journey to the silver screen. Contributing to this documentary, we get intimate information from the likes of Elia Kazan [director], Karl Malden [actor], Rudy Behlmer [film historian] and Richard Schickel [author of "Elia Kazan: A Biography"] provide most of the interview material, but also includes an archival interview with Kim Hunter [actress].
Special Feature Documentary: A Streetcar in Hollywood  [480i] [4:3] [28:08] A continuation of the previous feature documentary which describes the play's next phase as it moves from the stage to the silver screen. Once again contributing to this very interesting documentary, we again get insightful intimate information from the likes of Elia Kazan [director], Karl Malden [actor], Rudy Behlmer [film historian] and Richard Schickel [author of "Elia Kazan: A Biography"] and Kim Hunter [actress].
Special Feature Documentary: Censorship and Desire  [480i] [4:3] [16:20] With this particular documentary, we get details about the National Legion of Decency's objections and moral outrage to some of the sexual contents in the film, and the ultimate edits made in order for it to be "morally objectionable in part" as opposed to be completely condemned. It also informs us how the director's sleight of hand was instrumented in making subtle changes to allow the censors to pass the film. This interesting feature also provides helpful side-by-side views of the edited and original versions of key scenes. Contribution to this documentary is Rudy Behlmer [film historian], Karl Malden [actor], Kim Hunter [actress] and Robert Townson [record producer]. We also get to hear how Alex North [composer] and how he had to re-score the film music, as the censors thought certain scenes were too provocative with his original score. But luckily by accident they found a can of film with all the censored scenes and were carefully restored to the original restored version.
Special Feature Documentary: North and the Music of the South  [480i] [4:3] [9:14] This fascinating documentary gives an interesting insight into the composer Alex North and how he gave the film its distinctive film score. Contributions comes in the form of Robert Townson [Record Producer] of Varese Sarabande talks about the work of the award nominated composer Alex North, and shares how he got involved with producing and releasing Alex North's abandoned score to Stanley Kubrick's ‘2001: A Space Oddysey’ with the help of Jerry Goldsmith [composer, which you can now hear the full score on a CD Album. We also get to find out that Robert Townson got to know Alex North personally in his later years before he sadly passed way.
Special Feature Documentary: An Actor Named Brando  [480i] [4:3] [8:52] Fellow performers and historians talk about the impression the actor made in the theatre and film industry and through his work on the Academy Award® winning film ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’ We are also informed how Marlon Brando personality is so different from his screen persona and how he hated the character he played in the film. Contributing to this documentary, we see Elia Kazan [director], Karl Malden [actor], Richard Schickel [author of "Elia Kazan: A Biography"] and Kim Hunter [actress].
Special Feature: Marlon Brando Screen Test  [480i] [4:3] [5:05] Here we get to see the young Marlon Brando with Warner Test shots. Also segments from Marlon Brando's screen test for ‘Rebel Without A Cause.’ But we also get intimate shots of a well-dressed Marlon Brando, who is obviously very self-conscious. Sometimes you get no audio sound at all.
Special Feature: Outtakes  [480i] [4:3] [15:38] Here we get to see a series of unused film clips from ‘A Streetcar Named Desire' that is somewhat sort of interesting, but without any context and hard to understand, especially as they are not in any set order and some are very short in appearance, but you also get a lot of repeat outtakes, especially with a voice over with the director Elia Kazan.
Special Feature: Outtakes [Audio only]  [1080p] [16:9] [17:01] Similar to the film outtakes, which is difficult to discern the context from seemingly random snippets of audio recordings and all the time you listen to this, you get a colorized still image from the film. To be honest I cannot understand the point of this section.
Theatrical Trailers: We get to see three trailers, starting with Warner Bros. [1951 Release] [480i] [2:34]. 20th Century Fox [1958 Reissue] [480i] [2:08]. United Artists [1970 Reissue] [480i] [1:48].
Finally, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a cinematic classic that has been beautifully rendered in high definition. Warner Home Video Blu-ray delivers a strong presentation of Elia Kazan's award-winning adaptation of the equally acclaimed Broadway play. This All Region Blu-ray release comes with awesome Special Features, that have been transferred from the 2006 special edition inferior NTSC DVD, making the purchase of this Blu-ray release, and is well worthwhile for those looking to upgrade, as well as for first time purchasers. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, "A Streetcar Named Desire" won the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The 1951 film of "Streetcar" was almost as celebrated. Elia Kazan directed the Broadway production and the film. Three of the four principals, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden, starred on Broadway and in the movie. Only Vivien Leigh, who replaced Jessica Tandy as Blanche DuBois, did not act in the Broadway production; Leigh had performed Blanche on stage in London.
Williams' script, the acting, direction, cinematography, and music make "Streetcar" a moving, lasting film. The play tells the story of a fading Southern belle, Blanche DuBois, who is forced by circumstances to come stay with her sister Stella and her husband, Stanley Kowalski, in a shabby apartment in New Orleans' French Quarter. Stella has had a promiscuous sexual past after the death of her husband many years earlier. She flees her native town in search of one final chance at happiness. The play explores the tension between the romantic Blanche, and the crude, earthy, Stanley. The film builds in force as Stanley destroys Stella's dreams, in the form of a possible relationship with Stanley's friend Mitch, and Stella's sanity and liberty.
The film is best-known for Marlon Brando's performance as Stanley. Brando becomes the character in all his crudity while giving Stanley a vulnerable side as well. Although the performance defined his career, Brando did not win an Academy Award for his portrayal of Stanley in "Streetcar." Each of the other principals, Leigh (best actress), Hunter (best supporting actress) and Malden (best supporting actress) received Oscars. Leigh's performance as Blanche is highly charged and sexual in its own right. It almost matches rather than opposes Stanley's raw sensualy. Kim Hunter's portrayal of Stella shows her strong sexually-based attraction to Stanley. Malden's performance of Blanche's would-be suitor, the mama's boy Mitch, is a gem.
The scenes on the New Orleans streets in the French Quarter are highly effective in the film as was the lighting and the music. Before its release, "Streetcar" faced a battle with censors. Blanche's hysteria and nymphomania and the homosexuality of her young husband were toned down. The climactic rape scene was kept in while its portrayal was only suggested. The ending of Williams' play was changed to suggest that Stella was leaving her husband while in the play the family stays together as Stella tries to push from her mind Stanley's rape of her sister. With the changes, this film remains an excellent realization of Williams' play.
I have been revisiting Tennessee Williams after reading a new biography by John Lahr, "Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh". (2014) Lahr's book offers many insights into both the play and the film of "Streetcar". I have seen the play on stage and read it several times over the years, but oddly this was my first time with the movie. The copy I had was poor with several scratches and stops. It was a library copy which undoubtedly had been through many hands and many machines. I was glad for the opportunity to see it. Those with an interest in American theater or American movies will want to see this film of "A Streetcar Named Desire".