Brando Is Stanley

        When I read articles on this 1947 play and 1951 movie, all the critics mentioned that, instead of the focus being on Blanche as Tennessee Williams had written it, it was focused on a young twenty-four-year-old actor named Marlon Brando. It is clear that he dominated the role of Stanley Kowalski. It definitely is one of his most memorable roles as an actor, another being the Godfather.

        I had never seen Elia Kazan’s A Streetcar Named Desire before we watched it in class; but, to Mr. Brando’s and of course Mr. Tennessee Williams’ credit, I think most people have at one time or another has heard someone scream: “Stella!!!!!” It has to be one of the best-known lines in history. It has been quoted in movies, plays, parodied in comedies and dramas, but only one gives this character the justice it deserves--Marlon Brando. He is a dominant factor in the play and movie. When he is in the scene he dominates it. When he walks in the apartment after having the car fixed, he stands in the door he seems to take up the whole doorframe. Then he smiles, and Stella runs to him. It almost makes one say: “Okay so he’s not so bad.” But then he opens his mouth and ruins it with his brashness. He is the only person that I could see play the role of Stanley, although many others have done so. I also read an article that said James Gandolfini was an understudy to the actor that played Mitch (Timothy Carhart) on Broadway. Mr. Gandolfini is an actor that I could see playing Stanley instead of Mitch. I do believe that he is one of the few actors that could dominate the role of Stanley as Brando did.

        Brando portrays the character as close to how Tennessee Williams wrote the character as possible. Mr. Brando was a very physical actor in the film directed by Elia Kazan. He seemed very physical in almost every scene he was in; he threw plates, shoved Stella, and went after Blanche even after she armed herself with a broken bottle. He immersed himself into the character of Stanley. When Brando was in a scene he took over the whole scene. He is the focal point of the whole movie and play instead of Blanche and Stella. Blanche should have been the subject that the audience engrossed them into. The play I think was really about her struggle with losing everything she held dear in life. In every scene that Brando and Leigh were in that they sparred with each other Brando dominated it. I think it would have taken a very dominant actress to be noticed in a scene with Brando. Someone very confident and assertive would have been a good choice, but that did not happen. If they had chosen someone of that ability would Blanche have been as believable? I do not think so. I think Blanche needed to be played vulnerable, because she was at that point in her life.

        In conclusion I really did not mind if the play and subsequent movie had been called the Marlon Brando show. From now on when I hear the name Stanley even just in conversation, I will think of Brando.

Kristin Anderson

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