Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

“I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic.”

            The more I read a Tennessee Williams’ play or see a film based off his plays the more I cannot stand him. The same thing goes for Marlon Brando good God does this man drive me up a wall! So you may be asking yourself why if I do not like the playwright or the actor did I sit through A Streetcar Named Desire? Well first my brother several years ago gave me the TCM collection of dramas with the film along with The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof which I have not watched until a few days ago for the first time and Vivien Leigh was in the film and I adore her so I had to see it. If Vivien Leigh had not been in the film I never would have even bothered to see it.
            I cannot even tell you what the plot is because I did not understand it. All I know is that Blanche Du Bois (Leigh) went to New Orleans to visit her sister Stella and her husband Stanley Kowalski. Blanche is seriously disturbed she has some kind of psychological disorder. She was had been an English teacher but as she says she was forced to resign. The more she stays in the house with Stanley and Stella the more she loses grip on reality and the more she becomes disturbed.
            Stanley certainly does not help at all. He is a greasy, nasty brute. Blanche cannot understand what her sister sees in the man. As time goes on Stanley plays on her illness going so far as to drive her to the breaking point where she needs to be put in a home. Stella hates her husband for what he has done to her sister who mentally is like a child and she leaves him.
            Vivien Leigh was amazing. She won the Academy Award for this role and absolutely deserved it. This is one of the best performances in a film I have ever watched. Before Leigh performed Blanche in the film she originated the character on the London stage. Laurence Olivier had directed her in the stage show and she claimed that his direction rather than Elia Kazan’s direction for the film influenced her the most. You can see her performing like she was on the stage she had such a great intensity that is only seen in a live performance. I read that this point in her life Leigh was suffering from bipolar issues and had a hard time distinguishing her real life from the character. That was sad to read because she was such a talented actress but then again she performed so well she did not let her illness get in the way. The scene where Leigh blew me away was when Stanley’s friend Mitch came by the house. Mitch had been dating Blanche but Stanley was an ass and told him nasty things about her and Mitch no longer wanted to see her. For some reason he went to the house and was just totally cruel to her. She told him to get out of the house or she would scream. She did scream she chased him out of the house screaming and right into the court yard. Leigh was perfection she was intense and emotionally over the edge.
            The rest of the cast was alright. Marlon Brando was not Brando yet. I really cannot stand Brando I know the character was a jerk and everything but whatever the man is in I cannot stand him a minute. The cast including Brando were from the original Broadway play. Jessica Tandy played Blanche in the stage show but she was not well known at the time and the studio wanted a big name so they went with Leigh.
            A Streetcar Named Desire was alright. It is not the kind of film I would want to sit through again. I find Tennessee Williams plays to be boring. Marlon Brando kind of ruined the whole thing for me in many scenes. Only sit through the film if you want to see Vivien Leigh be absolutely amazing or if you like Brando or Tennessee Williams.