Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Marlon Brando isn't fat.

It seems like turning a play into a movie would be an easy thing to do. The script is already written and all you have to do is film it. Most of us realize how totally untrue that is, but every once in awhile the transition can be made with positive results. A Streetcar Named Desire is one of those fortunate examples of when a good play becomes and equally good film.

A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the play of the same name by Tennessee Williams, is the story of a down and out woman named Blanche DuBois. She finds herself, after loosing everything that she held dear, living with her sister and husband in New Orleans. She doesn't really get on with the in-laws and goes bat-shit insane. The film stars Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden and is a certifiable classic. It went on to win 4 Oscars, one for each of it's stars, except for Brando, and one for Art Direction, and it was nominated for another 8. Today, it exists as a much beloved classic and a common inclusion on lists of the best films ever made.

What makes A Streetcar Named Desire great is the acting. The cast does an outstanding job of making William's character spring to life and without their superb performances, the film would be mediocre. The be honest, A Streetcar Named Desire is one of my least favorite works by Tennessee Williams and by bias carried over slightly to the film. Even though the performances are good, I don't really buy into the characters themselves. Everything is just a little bit too dramatic and the movie teeters on the edge of melodrama for most of it's run time. Overall, the film is worthy of the praise it receives. It's technically well done and the performances alone are worth sitting down and watching the movie for. For the younger folk, it's worth watching just to see the reason why your parents or grandparents had a crush on Marlon Brando.


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