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Streetcar Named Desire

Vivien Leigh , Marlon Brando , Elia Kazan    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   VHS Tape
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

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Looking for a benchmark in movie acting? Breakthrough performances don't come much more electrifying than Marlon Brando's animalistic turn as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. Sweaty, brutish, mumbling, yet with the balanced grace of a prizefighter, Brando storms through the role--a role he had originated in the Broadway production of Tennessee Williams's celebrated play. Stanley and his wife, Stella (as in Brando's oft-mimicked line, "Hey, Stellaaaaaa!"), are the earthy couple in New Orleans's French Quarter whose lives are upended by the arrival of Stella's sister, Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh). Blanche, a disturbed, lyrical, faded Southern belle, is immediately drawn into a battle of wills with Stanley, beautifully captured in the differing styles of the two actors. This extraordinarily fine adaptation won acting Oscars for Leigh, Kim Hunter (as Stella), and Karl Malden (as Blanche's clueless suitor), but not for Brando. Although it had already been considerably cleaned up from the daringly adult stage play, director Elia Kazan was forced to trim a few of the franker scenes he had shot. In 1993, Streetcar was rereleased in a "director's cut" that restored these moments, deepening a film that had already secured its place as an essential American work. --Robert Horton


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars some of the best the screen has ever seen July 13 2004
By momazon
Format:DVD
Vivien Leigh, well-known for her portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara in 1939's "Gone With the Wind", plays Blanche, a Southern belle as fragile as Scarlett is strong. In a way, Blanche is what Scarlett would have become if she had watched her mother die. "Death is very pretty compared to dying," she tells her sister Stella, who only came home for the funeral.
Stella is pregnant and married to Stanley (the inimitable Brando) who both abhors and is fascinated by his sister-in-law Blanche (and not just in a platonic manner.) Blanche in turn is interested in meeting new gentleman callers, as her great love once killed himself (as she tells us in one of the most riveting scenes in movie history.) Interesting note: the delivery boy she flirts with is Mickey Kuhn, who once played Leigh's nephew Beau in GWTW.
Blanche is so fragile that she has no choice but to break. Unfortunately, others hurry her down that path. Perhaps the worst thing one can do, it seems, is depend on the kindness of strangers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paper Moon. June 12 2004
Format:DVD
As a playwright, Tennessee Williams was to the South what William Faulkner was as a fiction writer: a creative genius who revolutionized not only the region's arts scene and literature but that of 20th century America as a whole, bringing a Southern voice to the forefront while addressing universally important themes, and influencing and inspiring generations of later writers.
Pulitzer-Prize-winning "A Streetcar Named Desire" dates from the peak of Williams's creativity, the period between 1944 ("A Glass Menagerie") and 1955 ("Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," his second Pulitzer-winner). After its successful 1947 run on Broadway, "Streetcar" was adapted into a screenplay by Williams himself for this movie produced and directed by Elia Kazan, starring the entire Broadway cast except Jessica Tandy, who was replaced by the star of the play's London production, Vivien Leigh. The piece takes its title from one of the New Orleans streetcar lines that protagonist Blanche DuBois (Leigh) rides on her way to the apartment of her sister Stella (Kim Hunter), foreshadowing her later path, from (ever-unfulfilled) Desire to Cemetery (death, or the loss of reality) and a street called Elysian Fields, like the ancient mythological land of the dead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One Quick Question......... (3.5 stars) Aug. 6 2002
Format:DVD
I'm curious to know if anyone has read the play. Because, I want to know what they think of the ending in the movie version. It completly changes the tone and subject of the movie! Let me tell you something: this play was supposed to be about Blanche's tragedy. Changing the ending takes that element away. You can no longer call it a tragedy, and all of the sudden now the movie is about Stella.
Coming from someone who absolutely LOVED reading the play, I think this new ending is a complete cop out. Well, it is. I know it was forced on the studio from people who didn't think the original ending was "appropriate."
My advice: read the play. It's better. Actually, the movie is also really good as well....except when it gets to the ending.
All in all, I was really disappointed with how it ended. Should've stuck to the original ending that was in the play. I would've given it 5 stars had it not been for the ridiculous "forced" ending.
But that's just one man's opinion.
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2.0 out of 5 stars "Luck is believing you're lucky, that's all." June 27 2004
Format:DVD
Elia Kazan's film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" features some of the best tour-de-force acting cinema has ever seen. Yet, the film feels strangely lacking and deficient. This is due more to the shortcomings of the source material than Kazan's direction. While Williams' minimalist story contained enough material to produce an engaging stage play, the same work comes across as diminutive when adapted to the larger canvas of the big screen.
Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) arrives in New Orleans after losing her family estate. Scandalous rumors have tarnished her reputation and she is hoping to find some comfort and peace of mind by moving in with her sister, Stella Kowalski (Kim Hunter). Blanche tries to mask her fragile psyche by weaving tall tales about herself but Stanley (Marlon Brando), Stella's brute of a husband, sees right through them. Conflict ensues in the household as Stanley uses his insight to torment Stella while his wife tries to maintain the peace.
Brando is magnificent in "A Streetcar Named Desire." This fact is hardly in dispute. His portrayal of Stanley is tremendously masculine as the iconic image of him in his torn shirt in the pouring rain screaming for his wife will attest. His acting is also surprisingly sensitive in the quiet moments when Stanley and Stella are making romantic small-talk. The other performers are stellar as Hunter, Leigh, and Karl Malden actually manage to keep pace with Brando. However, the new standards set for cinematic emotional conflict and realism cannot overcome the simple nature of the story. This lack of narrative complexity limits "A Streetcar Named Desire" to being only a brilliant acting showcase.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Looks great
It's a gift which I'm sure the person I bought it for will be happy to receive it. Thank you
Published 22 months ago by Laura Bush Giles
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable performances and a whole lot of sultry atmosphere
Tennessee Williams' phenomenal stage play exploded onto the silver screen over sixty years ago, causing a whirlwind of controversy, and since then has lost little of its powerful... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Jamie MacDougall
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally satisfied
The DVD arrived in timely fashion, the quality was excellent (I had been worried about that, but all was okay, it turned out) and the material on the second disc was wonderful. Read more
Published on April 27 2010 by Dean Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Brando at his finest
With obvious rekindled interest because of the recent death of Marlon Brando, this "one of a kind" film is making a deserved comback. Read more
Published on July 11 2004 by "thomabbott"
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense and Sexy
This is a perfect date movie. It is intense, sexy, and packed with intellectual and emotional whallop. Read more
Published on July 3 2004 by Godaddy
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating observation of humanity...
Although, I find that "A Streetcar named Desire", for the most part had better acting,and a stronger story(mainly due to the fact there was less alteration to please the... Read more
Published on June 25 2004 by Justine "movie fanatic" Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
One of the greatest films I have ever seen in my life, "A Streetcar Named Desire" is perfectly cast with an emotionally wrenching plot. Read more
Published on June 10 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The need to be desired personified...
Desire is a streetcar that brings Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) to the French Quarters of New Orleans where her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), lives with her husband, Stanley (Marlon... Read more
Published on May 25 2004 by Kim Anehall
5.0 out of 5 stars Moments of true sensuality
Try as they may, few movies released in recent years have been able to duplicate the feminine sensuality of the scene in which Stella walks down the staircase to meet Stanley. Read more
Published on May 3 2004 by Reine des Coeurs
5.0 out of 5 stars Tourtured Souls
This is a movie about tourtured souls and lose. Stanley is a man who just wants to be left alone and then Blance enters the picture and convinces his wife that he is a bad man. Read more
Published on April 12 2004 by Char
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