A Streetcar Named Desire

Review No. 446

You can shout “STELLA!” all you want, and no one will shout, “YOU FORGOT THE ‘R’!”

streetcar_named_desire

Directed by: Elia Kazan
Screenplay by: Tennessee Williams and Oscar Saul
Based on: “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams
Blanche DuBois: Vivien Leigh
Stanley Kowalski: Marlon Brando
Stella Kowalski: Kim Hunter
Harold “Mitch” Mitchell: Karl Malden
Also Starring: Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias, Richard Garrick, Rudy Bond, Wright King

Distributed by Warner Bros. on September 18, 1951. Produced in English by the United States. Runs 122 mins. Rated PG by the MPAA–mature themes.

A Streetcar Named Desire was watched on March 5, 2013.

“Stella!” –Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando)

Strange. I have so much respect for 1939’s Gone with the Wind. I watched it at the age of 10, and I wasn’t expecting much, just an old, four-hour letdown to even out for Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I had watched just a day before. But I ended up loving it to death in spite of myself.

Yes, the movie is four hours long, give or take a few minutes, but no, I wouldn’t dare call it “long” or “boring.” 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire clocks in at just over two hours and I found myself checking the time excessively. I guess you could identify which one I felt was marked by a great performance from Ms. Vivien Leigh, and which one featured her as a saving grace.

A Streetcar Named Desire is an all-too-familiar abomination of the romance genre. The most interesting thing about it is exactly what makes it so banal: it’s intended a hot summer feature, and based on a play by Tennessee Williams, but Lorda mercy, it only leave yeh cold.

These characters are nothing but clichés. Okay they have names for the sake of deceptive attraction, but those names are like substituting “James Bond” with “007” for the sake of secrecy. Shh. We’re just the “bad boy,” the “hopeless romantic,” and the “married woman who seems like she’s in heaven.” A very thin façade.

It’s no secret that John Hinckley, Jr.’s assassination attempt on President Reagan was linked to Jodie Foster’s character in Taxi Driver. Thank God he failed. It’s unfortunate that Nicholas Sparks didn’t when he used A Streetcar Named Desire against the romance genre. He hasn’t admitted it, but if he’s at all honest, he will. It Happened One Night, Casablanca, His Girl Friday, and…I don’t know, maybe Gone with the Wind. These titles have righteously been dubbed as classics. You emulate these Golden Age romance gems and you end up with more recent masterpieces like When Harry Met Sally, Titanic, and Shakespeare in Love.

You emulate A Streetcar Named Desire and you get a theater full of female young adults who will do anything to see a hot guy on the big screen. Because Marlon Brando DOES look suave when he first appears sweating down his front. No that’s not sweat…that’s a good story that’s been melted away.

C MINUS

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14 thoughts on “A Streetcar Named Desire

  1. Ouch… Quite a low score for one of my all-time favourites. Don’t worry, though. This isn’t the only one of my favourites which I know you didn’t like that much. 😛 I can still see where the film can’t particularly appeal to everybody, though I was one who was quite impressed by it.

  2. Ouch, that’s a mighty low score. I love this movie, but then again I’m a theater major. Marlon Brando and Karl Malden give stunning performances, and serve as great opposites to one another.

    I was mighty bored watching Gone with the Wind, but I agree that Vivien Leigh is much better in that. This might also have to do with the fact that Jessica Tandy was the one who made the role famous on Broadway, but was not offered to do the film as she didn’t have enough box office appeal.

    I wouldn’t call this a romance, as it’s a gross display of love and how abuse effects relationships. Elia Kazan was an amazing director. Anyways, sorry for writing so much. 😛

    Despite the differing opinion, I still respect yours and I’m happy that you at least like classic movies. Many young people, it appears, can’t get over the fact that a movie is black and white.

    • Wow, thanks for the long comment! I really appreciate it, actually.

      I don’t recall saying that Vivien Leigh wasn’t as good here as in Gone with the Wind. I think she weighs the same in both, but she was what kept me awake watching A Streetcar Named Desire.

      I think I really would’ve loved seeing Jessica Tandy in the movie version, but that’s because she’s done great movies post-1951.

      This was a movie about abuse? I just remembered that all the characters were drunk at one point or another (so maybe abuse? I just don’t know…), Marlon Brando wouldn’t stop shouting “STELLA!”, and whenever two women spoke to each other, it was never about anything other than a man they were attracted to. The kinds of clichés that drive me freaking nuts.

      The whole experience, for me, was pretty stultifying. There’s some movies that bore me so much that I just decide to start writing my review once I’m halfway through (writing while I’m watching, of course, to soak in more detail). I think A Streetcar Named Desire may have been one of these rare scenarios.

      And yess!!! One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say they were bored by a movie just because it was black and white. That’s only topped off when they say their favorite movie was something made within the past two years. GOD it bothers the hell out of me.

      • Yeah, I might have added the part about Vivian Leigh being better in Gone with the Wind. 😀 I think most of the abuse is spoken about, but I do think there is one point where Brando strikes his wife.

        Then the problem with Blanche is that the man she was getting married to was gay and she found out on their wedding day as she walked in on him during the act of cheating. She confronted him, called him weak and other stuff and then he killed himself. This leaves her unstable and she is now alone and past her good years. I only mention this because the movie doesn’t really spell it out because the film was heavily censored, especially with the scene where Stanley rapes Blanche when Stella is away giving birth.

        Apparently there is a 1993 Unrated version that features this, and I would love to see it as it’s closer to the play. Tennessee Williams is really an interesting artist, probably the second best playwright in American history. The first being Arthur Miller.

        I too am annoyed when people say their favorite movie was made within the past two or three years. My favorite decade for movies has got to be the 1990’s, and even then I still think that’s too recent. Sadly, I had someone tell me that Se7en was not a good movie because it was “too old”. I had to hold myself back for fear of punching him square in the jaw.

        • I think the movie would have actually worked better if it weren’t censored. I do remember the scene when Brando strikes his wife, come to think of it, but not much else to do with abuse. The themes that you mention would have helped a lot.

          I kind of laughed when you wrote “was not a good movie because it was ‘too old’.” When has there been such a thing? Lol. And Se7en?! That’s only three years older than me!

          I do agree as well that the ’90s is my favorite decade for movies. GoodFellas, The Silence of the Lambs, Cape Fear, JFK, Beauty and the Beast, Thelma & Louise, Unforgiven, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, Speed, Babe, Braveheart, Casino, Fargo, Titanic, As Good As It Gets, Shakespeare in Love, American Beauty, The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense…I think I may have even missed several there.

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