A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Directed by Elia Kazan
Starring: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden
This 1951 film was the winner of four Oscars including Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Art Direction. The Tennessee Williams play was brought to life by the great director Elia Kazan. Kazan won two Oscars during his amazing career, once for On the Waterfront and again for Gentleman’s Agreement.
Tennessee Williams was also well-known in the world of films. He was nominated for two Oscars, once for this film’s screenplay and again for adaptingBaby Doll.
The stars of this movie are all well-known. Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden brought together their talents for this incredible film. Leigh had many memorable roles including Anna Karenina and Gone With the Wind. She won an Oscar for her role in A Streetcar Named Desire in addition to the Academy Award she won for Gone With the Wind.
Marlon Brando is another Hollywood legend. He won Academy Awards for On the Waterfront and for The Godfather. He had a number of incredible performances over his career including Last Tango in Paris and Apocalypse Now.
Another of the film’s stars was Kim Hunter, who won an Oscar for her supporting role in this classic. Perhaps her most memorable roles came in the Planet of the Apes films, where she played Zira.
Karl Malden also won an Oscar for his role in this movie. He had a long career in film and television that included movies like Patton and On the Waterfront with Marlon Brando. He also played Mike Stone in the popular television series The Streets of San Francisco which also starred a young Michael Douglas.
Blanche DuBois (Leigh) has just arrived in New Orleans where she’s hoping to find her sister Stella (Hunter). Blanche is a troubled woman who’s looking for an escape from a painful past. She thinks she might have found a new home with Stella and Stanley (Brando), Stella’s husband. Things begin to unravel as Stanley uncovers more about her troubles than she’s been willing to share. While she tries to start a romance with Stanley’s friend Mitch (Malden) she’s also falling apart. None of this is helped by Stanley’s constant tormenting of the fragile woman.
This is an amazing movie that circles around a dark subject. All four of the main actors give marvelous performances. If it wasn’t for the success of Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen this film might have swept the acting categories at the Oscars. Leigh is especially brilliant in her portrayal of the manic and troubled Blanche. As the woman falls apart through the story Leigh manages to give perhaps her best performance. Brando is equally good as the overpowering and abusive Stanley.
Kim Hunter and Karl Malden both hold their own quite well throughout the movie. Their Academy Awards are well-deserved as they blended into the story wonderfully. With most of the movie revolving around only the four people it would have been easy for someone to stand out if they failed to keep up with the talent around them. This time there was no failure by any of the actors.
The sets, camera work, and other technical aspects of the movie also work wonderfully. The story is dark and the setting seems perfect for the action that occurs.
This is a great movie with classic dialogue and a powerful story. Despite being over 60 years old, this is a movie for mature audiences since it deals with some rough subject matter and a dark premise. I give this movie 4.7 out of 5 stars.
I prefer the musical… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oUA6wirNfE
Seriously though, this is a film I need to see again. It’s been too long.
Very good review. I agree that Leigh gave one of her best performances in this film.
Thanks for the comment!