A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Marriage Drama, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 18, 1951 (USA)  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

With the same director (Elia Kazan), a screenplay co-adapted by the playwright (Tennessee Williams), and three-quarters of the Broadway production's stars, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) transcended "filmed theater" to become a groundbreaking Hollywood work. Battling the stringent Production Code, Kazan and Williams made concessions concerning the "perverse" sexual elements of Blanche DuBois' past, but they retained the crucial rape of "delicate," old-fashioned Blanche by brutal, "modern" Stanley Kowalski, earning the Code's approval for a film definitively aimed toward adults. Marlon Brando's star-making performance as the "Stella"-howling Stanley burned itself into popular consciousness with its combination of carnality and Method-acting "naturalness," establishing Brando as the premier purveyor of the then-innovative Method acting style and a striking erotic presence. The more traditional Vivien Leigh, replacing Broadway's Jessica Tandy, similarly flourished as Blanche, while the Oscar-winning art direction, Harry Stradling's photography, and Alex North's moody, influential jazz score enhanced the hothouse atmosphere. The film was nominated for 12 Oscars, including Best Picture, and took home awards for Leigh, Karl Malden, and Kim Hunter, though Brando lost to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen. It was re-released in 1993 with four minutes of footage that had originally been censored by the Legion of Decency, including close-ups of Hunter's Stella eyeing Stanley with too much desire.