35. A Street Car Named Desire

Adapted from Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire is a gritty and tense drama starring Vivien Leigh as Blanche, who has lost her family home and her job and moves to New Orleans to live with her sister Stella (Kim Hunter) and her domineering husband Stanley (Marlon Brando).  As Vivien settles in, Stanley immediately questions her past and intentions as he notices lavish clothing and suspect explanations of her predicament.

Vivien begins dating Mitch (Karl Malden) as Stanley’s abuse towards Stella intensifies by the day.  To further complicate things is an implied attraction between Stanley and Blanche despite their many disagreements and confrontations.  As Stanley uncovers Blanche’s many dark secrets, it is only a matter of time before it all reaches a stunning climax.

One of my favorite things about this film were the many underlying issues between the characters that slowly unfold.  Stanley hates Blanche and wants to get rid of her, but deep down they are both insanely attracted to each other.  Stella is absolutely terrified of Stanley, but agrees to let her sister crash with them indefinitely.  Stella also turns a blind eye to her sister’s mysterious past which includes her leave of absence from her teaching career and death of her husband, not to mention Stanley’s jealousy towards Mitch as he courts Blanche.

I was very surprised to read that this film won the Academy Award in all 4 major acting categories except for Best Actor.  I thought Brando was absolutely electric in every scene he appears, stealing the stage from anyone else on the screen.  With such a multi-layered story, the chemistry between all the characters was magnetic and interwoven precisely.

On the other hand I found a lot of the dialogue hard to follow.  Even while I was paying close attention to every line, I still managed to get a little confused with what the characters were saying and what exactly was happening.  This was pretty distracting to me but the energy pulsing from the screen was enough to get me through the film.  A repeat viewing is definitely in order.

The survey says…3.5 stars out of 5.

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Categories: 100 Films

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