Speaking of pre-1970’s masterpieces (See the MOVIE A DAY review of THE MALTESE FALCON), A STREETCAR NAME DESIRE is a powerhouse film adapted directly from the Tennessee William’s Broadway sensation and starring most of the original cast from the stage.
Directed by Elia Kazan, who directed the play as well, it tells the story of faded southern belle Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) and her decent into madness, driven there by her inability to exist in the real world.
Having lost her fortune, Blanche comes to stay for a while with her sister Stella (Kim Hunter) and her uncouth husband Stanley (Marlon Brando). She arrives into their working class life like the Queen of the Nile. Prim and proper, she can barely stop herself from criticizing the squalor that her sister lives in.
Stella puts up with her sister’s eccentricities, but it is Stanley who can see right through her and refuses to put up with it. This animosity continues to escalate especially when Blanche attempts to drive a wedge between he and Stella.
To make matters worse, Blanche falls for Stanley’s friend Mitch (Karl Malden), but when the truth comes out about her checkered past, he rejects her causing her ultimate spiral into insanity.
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE is character at its best and the performances are simply a revelation to behold winning Leigh, Hunter and Malden Oscars for their roles. Brando was nominated that year, but lost to Humphrey Bogart.
The interesting irony to the film is that as I was rewatching it, I realized how similar last year’s BLUE JASMINE is to it. As a matter of fact, it plays like a modern day STREETCAR and is uncanny how alike the two films are. So if you liked Woody Allen’s film than you will love this one.
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE is another MUST SEE MOVIE and needs to be seen by anyone who enjoys film at its purest.