A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE  [60th Anniversary Edition] [Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook] [Blu-ray] [US Import] Perhaps The Most Thrilling Display of Ensemble Acting in this All American Film!
`A Streetcar Named Desire'  [The Original Restored Version] is the Elia Kazan and Tennessee Williams film moviegoers would have not have seen, because of the Legion of Decency censorship occurred at the last minute in 1951. Here it makes its Blu-ray debuted, stunningly restored and digital re-mastered to brilliant 1080p clarity. This classic is presented in a collectable, premium 40 page Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook, with behind-the-scenes photography, production notes, biographies and more! Plus Three minutes of previously unseen footage underscoring, among other things, the sexual tension between Blanche DuBois [Vivien Leigh] and Stanley Kowalski [Marlon Brando], and Stella Kowalski's [Kim Hunter] passion for husband Stanley Kowalski. This is the Original Restored Version.
FILM FACT: `A Streetcar Named Desire' won Four Awards at the 1951 24th Academy Awards® where the film set an OSCAR® record when it became the first film to win in three acting categories and they are as follows: Won: Vivien Leigh for Best Actress. Won: Karl Malden for Best Supporting Actor. Won: Kim Hunter for Best Supporting Actress. Won: Richard Day and George Hopkins for Best Art Direction for Set Decoration in Black-and-White. Nominated: Charles K. Feldman [Producer] for Best Motion Picture. Nominated: Elia Kazan for Best Director. Nominated: Marlon Brando for Best Actor. Nominated: Tennessee Williams for Best Writing and Screenplay. Nominated: Harry Stradling for Best Cinematography in Black-and-White. Nominated: Lucinda Ballard for Best Costume Design in Black-and-White. Nominated: Alex North for Best Music, Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. Nominated: Nathan Levinson for Best Sound Recording. Its contributions continue to be celebrated, and holds a place on the AFI's list of Top 100 films.
Cast: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias, Wright King, Richard Garrick, Ann Dere, Edna Thomas, Mickey Kuhn, Mel Archer (uncredited), Dahn Ben Amotz (uncredited), Marietta Canty (uncredited), John George (uncredited), John Gonetos (uncredited), Chester Jones (uncredited), Lyle Latell (uncredited), Maxie Thrower (uncredited), Charles Wagenheim (uncredited), John B. Williams (uncredited) and Buck Woods (uncredited)
Director: Elia Kazan
Producer: Charles K. Feldman
Screenplay: Tennessee Williams and Oscar Saul (adaptation)
Composer: Alex North
Cinematography: Harry Stradling
Video Resolution: 1080p [Black-and-White]
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English: 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, French: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, German: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Italian: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono and Portuguese: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Romanian, Slovenian and Swedish
Running Time: 125 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: `A Streetcar Named Desire' originally garnered most of the drama prizes awards when it was playing on Broadway. But with director Elia Kazan and a simply superlative cast have fashioned a motion picture that throbs with passion and poignancy. Indeed, through the haunting performance England's great Vivien Leigh gives in the heart-breaking role of Tennessee Williams's deteriorating Southern belle and through the mesmerising moods with the help of Elia Kazan and with his brilliant techniques that you view on the screen, this picture has now become a fine, if not finer, than the stage play. Inner torments are seldom projected with such sensitivity and clarity on the screen.
Blanche DuBois is an aging schoolteacher who leaves her hometown under mysterious circumstances and stays with her pregnant sister Stella in New Orleans. Stanley Kowalski, Stella Kowalski's brutish husband, resents Blanche DuBois's presence and accuses her of squandering the family inheritance. Stanley Kowalski sets about tearing down the fragile world of illusion with which Blanche DuBois attempts to surround herself.
Of course, the first factor in this triumph is Tennessee Williams's original play, which embraced, among its many virtues, an essential human conflict in visual terms. The last brave, defiant, hopeless struggle of the lonely and decaying Blanche du Bois to hold on to her faded gentility against the heartless badgering of her roughneck brother-in-law is a tangible cat-and-dog set to, marked with manifold physical episodes as well as a wealth of fluctuations of verbally fashioned images and moods. And all of these graphic components have been fully preserved in Oscar Saul's film script and availed of by the brilliant director Elia Kazan in his cinematic tour-de-force.
No less brilliant, however, within his area is Marlon Brando in the role of the loud, lusty, brawling, brutal, amoral Polish brother-in-law. Marlon Brando created the role in the Broadway stage play and he carries over all the energy and the steel-spring characteristics that made him vivid on the stage. But here, where we're so much closer to him, he seems that much more highly charged, his despairs seem that much more pathetic, and his comic moments that much more slyly enjoyed.
Other actors from the Broadway cast of the stage play, Kim Hunter as the torn young sister and wife, Karl Malden as a timid, boorish suitor, Nick Dennis as a pal, and all the rest fill out the human pattern within a sleazy environment that is so fitly and graphically created that you can almost sense its sweatiness and smells. Alex North's incidental music deserves prominent commendation, too, as do all of the technical aspects of this film which Charles K. Feldman has produced.
Needless to say, the filming of `A Streetcar Named Desire' was more problematic than the stage production. Vivien Leigh clashed with Elia Kazan over her interpretation of Blanche DuBois and also had problems connecting with her fellow cast members who were trained in the "Stanislavsky Method." "In many ways she was Blanche DuBois." Marlon Brando said in his autobiography, Vivien Leigh was memorably beautiful, one of the great beauties of the screen, but she was also vulnerable, and her own life had been very much like that of Tennessee Williams's wounded butterfly...like Blanche DuBois, and was beginning to dissolve mentally and frayed at the end physically.
While in production, `A Streetcar Named Desire' began to encounter resistance from the film industry's self-regulating production code office with references to the sexuality of Blanche DuBois's deceased husband were removed and the harsh original ending was altered, with Stella rejecting her husband rather than remaining by his side. Still, the film encountered controversy during its release and Warner Bros. deleted an additional five minutes of material, it was later added back in a 1993 restoration, which included dialogue references to Blanche DuBois's past promiscuity and visual evidence of the lustful relationship between Stanley Kowalski and Stella Kowalski.
All the troubles were well worth it in the end because `A Streetcar Named Desire' is now considered a landmark film in terms of the ensemble performances. Elia Kazan's direction and the evocative art direction by Richard Day. The derelict New Orleans tenement is given a convincing presence through the accumulation of image details, such as crumbling stucco and bricks, peeling wallpaper, streaks of dirt on the walls and the dramatic courtyard staircase with wrought iron railings. In collaboration with Harry Stradling's evocative textures of light and shadow, the sets provide crucial atmospheric support for the actors' naturalistic performances. Plus the Composer Alex North's haunting film score, which unfortunately was only nominated for Best Music, Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.
While in production, `A Streetcar Named Desire' began to encounter resistance from the film industry's self-regulating production code office. References to Blanche DuBois's deceased [gay] husband were removed and the harsh original ending was altered, with Stella Kowalski rejecting her husband rather than remaining by his side. Still, the film encountered controversy during its release and Warner Bros. deleted an additional five minutes of material, it was later added back in a 1993 restoration, which included dialogue references to Blanche DuBois's past promiscuity and visual evidence of the lustful relationship between Stanley Kowalski and Stella Kowalski.
All the trouble was worth it in the end because 'A Streetcar Named Desire' is now considered a landmark classic film in terms of the ensemble performances, Elia Kazan's direction and the evocative art direction by Richard Day. The derelict New Orleans tenement is given a convincing presence through the accumulation of details such as crumbling stucco and bricks, peeling wallpaper, streaks of dirt on the walls and the dramatic courtyard staircase with wrought iron railings. In collaboration with Harry Stradling's evocative textures of light and shadow, the sets provide crucial atmospheric support for the actors' naturalistic performances.
Blu-ray Video Quality ' This Blu-ray has a stunning 1080p encoded transfer, with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 that was achieved with many of the original film's black-and-white elements. It is typical of the fine work Warner Home Video has done with some it prestige titles like 'Citizen Kane' and 'Casablanca.' Fine detail is more variable, struggling a bit in wider shots, and faring better in close ups, yet film grain looks intact with no evidence of excessive noise reduction measures. Dupes and other image manipulations (one standing out more than others), made in the original edit, can be starkly obvious next to the sharper and tighter extra supplements material. But the transfer ultimately proves faithful to the source elements, even though those elements may not always look the most perfect.
Blu-ray Audio Quality ' `A Streetcar Named Desire' is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that `A Streetcar Named Desire' is more than sixty years old, the sound quality is still impresive. Sure, there are modest limitations in fidelity, but the track is a very strong performer. Alex North's music comes across with good sense of character. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves a generally smooth quality to the soundtrack. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Commentary by Actor Karl Malden, and Film Historians Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young: features supplements producer Laurent Bouzereau hosting and we get comments from co- star Karl Malden [Actor], Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian] and Jeff Young (all recorded separately). Jeff Young got to know Elia Kazan quite well when Jeff Young was an executive of Paramount Pictures and has some good anecdotes about the director Elia Kazan. Rudy Behlmer contributes more of an overall historical perspective and Karl Malden is able to give an actor's viewpoint, on both the stage and screen versions. Some of Karl Malden's comments about Marlon Brando in his early career are quite surprising, and there are some wonderful anecdotes shared about the original Broadway run, including some great stories about the "mother hen," the original star Jessica Tandy. This is an extremely worthwhile and informative piece that should appeal equally to scholars and film fans alike.
Special Feature Length Profile of Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey  [480i] [4:3] [1:15:30] Written and directed by film critic and film historian Richard Schickel, and narrated by Eli Wallach, the documentary traces Elia Kazan's career from his beginnings as a stage actor to his work as an award-winning film director. An extensive interview with the director himself provides much of the film's structure and content, following a predictable pattern that alternates between the interview and material from the films. As it focuses almost exclusively on his directing work, there's little examination of Elia Kazan's controversial actions related to the Hollywood Blacklist of the 1950s. Nevertheless, it provides a fitting tribute to a very talented director. We also get a very interesting insight into the journey Elia Kazan journey from his native land where he was born and eventually ending up directing top quality Hollywood and New York films that have won endless plaudits. This is a definite documentary not to be missed.
Special Feature Documentary: A Streetcar on Broadway  [480i] [4:3] [22:00] This feature documentary describes with the development, production, and reception of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning play how it made its journey to the silver screen. Contributing to this documentary, we get intimate information from the likes of Elia Kazan [Director], Karl Malden [Actor], Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian] and Richard Schickel [Author of "Elia Kazan: A Biography"] provide most of the interview material, but also includes an archival interview with Kim Hunter [Actress].
Special Feature Documentary: A Streetcar in Hollywood  [480i] [4:3] [28:08] A continuation of the previous feature documentary which describes the play's next phase as it moves from the stage to the silver screen. Once again contributing to this very interesting documentary, we again get insightful intimate information from the likes of Elia Kazan [Director], Karl Malden [Actor], Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian] and Richard Schickel [Author of "Elia Kazan: A Biography"] and Kim Hunter [Actress].
Special Feature Documentary: Censorship and Desire  [480i] [4:3] [16:20] With this particular documentary, we get details about the National Legion of Decency's objections and moral outrage to some of the sexual contents in the film, and the ultimate edits made in order for it to be "morally objectionable in part" as opposed to be completely condemned. It also informs us how the director's sleight of hand was instrumented in making subtle changes to allow the censors to pass the film. This interesting feature also provides helpful side-by-side views of the edited and original versions of key scenes. Contribution to this documentary is Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian], Karl Malden [Actor], Kim Hunter [Actress] and Robert Townson [Record Producer]. We also get to hear how Alex North [Composer] and how he had to re-score the film music, as the censors thought certain scenes were too provocative with his original score. But luckily by accident they found a can of film with all the censored scenes and were carefully restored to the original restored version.
Special Feature Documentary: North and the Music of the South  [480i] [4:3] [9:14] This fascinating documentary gives an interesting insight into the composer Alex North and how he gave the film its distinctive film score. Contributions comes in the form of Robert Townson [Record Producer] of Varese Sarabande talks about the work of the award nominated composer Alex North, and shares how he got involved with producing and releasing Alex North's abandoned score to Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Oddysey' with the help of Jerry Goldsmith [composer, which you can now hear the full score on a CD Album. We also get to find out that Robert Townson got to know Alex North personally in his later years before he sadly passed way.
Special Feature Documentary: An Actor Named Brando  [480i] [4:3] [8:52] Fellow performers and historians talk about the impression the actor made in the theatre and film industry and through his work on the Academy Award® winning film 'A Streetcar Named Desire.' We are also informed how Marlon Brando [Actor] personality is so different from his screen persona and how he hated the character he played in the film. Contributing to this documentary, we see Elia Kazan [Director], Karl Malden [Actor], Richard Schickel [Author of "Elia Kazan: A Biography"] and Kim Hunter [Actress].
Special Feature: Marlon Brando Screen Test  [480i] [4:3] [5:05] Here we get to see the young Marlon Brando with Warner Bros. Test shots. Also segments from Marlon Brando's screen test for 'Rebel Without A Cause.' But we also get intimate shots of a well-dressed Marlon Brando, who is obviously very self-conscious. Sometimes you get no audio sound at all.
Special Feature: Outtakes  [480i] [4:3] [15:38] Here we get to see a series of unused film clips from 'A Streetcar Named Desire' that is somewhat sort of interesting, but without any context and hard to understand, especially as they are not in any set order and some are very short in appearance, but you also get a lot of repeat outtakes, especially with a voice over with the director Elia Kazan.
Special Feature: Outtakes [Audio only]  [1080p] [16:9] [17:01] Similar to the film outtakes, which is difficult to discern the context from seemingly random snippets of audio recordings and all the time you listen to this, you get a colorized still image from the film. To be honest I cannot understand the point of this section.
Theatrical Trailers: We get to see three trailers, starting with Warner Bros. [1951 Release] [480i] [2:34]. 20th Century Fox [1958 Reissue] [480i] [2:08]. United Artists [1970 Reissue] [480i] [1:48].
BONUS: A Special Collectible Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook: The nicely produced book packaging that includes cast and crew biographies, background on the production and numerous photographs.
Finally, 'A Streetcar Named Desire' is a cinematic classic that has been beautifully rendered in high definition. Warner Home Video Blu-ray delivers a strong presentation of Elia Kazan's award-winning adaptation of the equally acclaimed Broadway play. This All Region Blu-ray release comes with awesome Special Features, that have been transferred from the 2006 special edition inferior NTSC DVD, making the purchase of this Blu-ray release, which is well worthwhile for those looking to upgrade 100%, as well as for first time purchasers of this Blu-ray disc. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller ' Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
on June 12, 2004
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.
Although Blanche is the person most visibly engaging in deception (of herself and others), almost everyone of the characters suffers loss after a brutal reality check: Stella, who hasn't been back home for years, first learns from Blanche that their genteel home Belle Reve (literally: "beautiful dream") is "lost" - although in what manner precisely Blanche doesn't specify, which immediately raises the suspicion of Stella's husband Stanley (Marlon Brando) - only to later hear from Stanley that under the veneer of Blanche's appearance as a delicate Southern lady lies a promiscuous past, and the true circumstances of her ouster from her job and ultimately from their home town were not as Blanche would have Stella believe. Stanley's friend Mitch (Karl Malden), who despite their disparate social backgrounds intends to marry Blanche after they are drawn to each other by their mutual need for "somebody" in their life, is similarly disillusioned by Stanley, and subsequently by Blanche herself when he insists on seeing her in bright light instead of the dim light of dancehalls and of the paper lamp she has insisted on hanging over Stella and Stanley's living room lamp, neither able to face the effects of age and a profligate lifestyle herself nor willing to reveal them to others. And Blanche's own loss of innocence, finally, set in years earlier, when she found her young husband in bed with another man and he committed suicide after she publicly reproached him. "Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see each other in life," Tennessee Williams says about "A Streetcar Named Desire" in Kazan's 1988 autobiography "A Life;" and in a letter opposing the movie's censoring before its release he described the story as being about "ravishment of the tender, the sensitive, the delicate, by the savage and brutal forces of modern society."
The brute, of course, is Stanley, who not only becomes the catalyst of Blanche's fate and the destroyer of Stella's, Mitch's and Blanche's own illusions, but is her antagonist in everything from background to personality: Where she is a fading belle dreaming of days gone by he is all youthful virility, a working-class man living in the here and now; where she is refined he is crude, and where she engages in pretense, he tears down the facade behind which she is hiding. The conversation during which Stanley tells Stella about Blanche's past is pointedly set against Blanche's humming the Arlen/Harburg tune "It's Only a Paper Moon," which sees love transforming life into a fantasy world, which in turn however "wouldn't be make-believe if you believed in me." Yet, as portrayed by Marlon Brando, who with this movie stormed into public awareness with his unique and volcanic approach to acting, Stanley is no mere vulgar beast but a complex, often controversial character, despite his brutal streak almost childishly dependant on his wife and frequently hiding his own insecurities under his raw appearance (thus putting up a certain front as well, but unlike Blanche's, a socially acceptable, even common one). Ever the method actor, Brando reportedly stayed in character even during filming breaks; much to the disgust of Vivien Leigh, for whom lines like "[h]e's like an animal. ... Thousands of years have passed him right by and there he is: Stanley Kowalski, survivor of the stone-age, bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle" must consequently have come from the bottom of her heart.
In early 1950s' society, "Streetcar" was considered way too risque - even downright sordid - to be presented to moviegoing audiences without severe censorship, which Williams and Kazan were only partly able to fight. One of the most substantial changes made in the adaptation was that at the end of the movie Stanley is punished for his brutality towards Blanche, whereas in the play's cynical original ending he is the only character experiencing no loss at all; indeed seeing his world restored after Blanche's exit. Since Kazan's suggestion to produce two alternate versions (one to please the censors, one in conformity with Williams's play) was rejected, even the 1993 "Original Director's Version" retains its altered, censorship-induced ending. Therefore, the play will forever constitute the last word on Williams's intentions. But even in its censored version this movie was a deserved quadruple Oscar- and multiple other award-winner (albeit undeservedly not for Brando). It has long-since become a true classic: a cinematic gem of first-rate direction and superlative performances throughout.
And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.
Hart Crane, "The Broken Tower": Preface to the published version of Tennessee Williams's play.
on April 2, 2004
Whether or not you like Elia Kazan as a person--think he's a ..., what have you--his talent for direction is undeniable. And he shows this in the film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire. With the same aspect as such films as Wuthering Heights is, it's uncoth, it's dark, it's moody, it's creepy. But with reason. Some things just look better in black + white. To think of this in colour is unspeakable, even. This, along with On the Waterfront, rank as Kazan's best work. Both with Marlon Brando.
But dare I speak my mind? As much as I agree Brando is a very talented actour, and that his performance as Stanley Kowalski is excellent, a certain word comes to my mind...overrated? Now, perhaps it's because I prefer more of the traditional acting technique myself over method. Although you're not, in essense, "in character", it takes a real talent to pull it off. And in a nest of respected, seasoned methods, the one traditional gives, by far, the most outstanding performance. Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois is, not only the greatest acting in her career, but quite possibly by any female in the history of cinema. As stated before, she's purely technique. But the eery circumstances surrounding her life at this moment made her Blanche, and not with purpose. Although in a shallow perspective, Blanche is an overdramatic nympho whom many want to slap, I won't let it stop at that. Tennessee Williams remarked on how her Blanche was everything he had intended to bring to the role, and more. This I agree. Having read the play beforehand, and realizing that it would undoubtedly difficult to bring to life, I was persuaded by the 'closing credits' that Viv is one of the greatest actresses in cinematic history, at least to my knowledge. And because of that, she ranks as my most favourite. Above Katharine Hepburn, above Greta Garbo, above Joan Crawford. She can't be surpassed. And perhaps it's becuase I too, oddly enough can sympathize with the character. Sure, I'm not an aging, tormented nyphomaniac-of-a-southern belle, some of it is all to eery. Nothing is greater than the line "I've always depended on the kindness of strangers". Damn..in a twisted way, it's the hero of the epic tale--one who can surpass all time and place with what they represent. Can't be better.
Karl Malden also gives a great performance as Mitch. Having liked him as an actour [and Mitch as a character], I was satisfied with what I watched. I didn't care much for Kim Hunter, although she's not neccesarily bad. The art direction is everything that it should be, and it's Alex North's finest hour. Should've won best picture.
Coming from a huge Tennessee Williams fan, this can't be surpassed in terms of film-adaptations of plays. My favourite play, my favourite movie, my favourite actress, and one of my favourite directors. It can't be defeated.