Saturday, February 20, 2010
#140 A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Director: Elia Kazan
Cast: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias
I was excited for this film, first of all, because it is Vivien Leigh. Secondly, because I had never seen a Marlon Brando flick, and I have read loads about his intense method acting. Thirdly, I was dying to know what story leads to the classic line, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
And damn. What a movie!
Based off of an original theatrical production by Tennessee Williams, it is ((supposed)) to be a story focused on Blanche DuBois, a southern belle who has lost the family estate and travels to stay with her pregnant sister and brutish husband in New Orleans. We watch as her pathetic clinging to her traditions and delusions of refinement drive her sister's husband absolutely wild. Convinced she is hiding some sort of inheritance and is full of lies, he bullies her out of sheer frustration, to which Blanche ultimately responds with a loss of sanity.
If I can try to remove myself for a moment from the fact that Marlon Brando is so stinking SEXY in this film (all greased up and sweaty), his performance as Stanley Kowalski is absolutely brilliant. He is absolutely animalistic on the screen, and his attention to the detail of his character is captivating. When he first enters, we watch him engage with Leigh in his own apartment, absently scratching his belly and back as he lets his lines be shrugged off his muscley shoulders.
The film is more theatrical than cinematic, I would say. The director seemed far more interested in his characters than he did for creating a beautiful film. But there is something about this story and these characters that drives you to another place-- a place where you can count on women to be frail and pathetic and men to be covered in sweat and throw you over their shoulder.
Absolutely genius film. Five stars. Get in my life.