Brando and Leigh: Brilliant at Destruction

     Elia Kazan's 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, adapted from the 1947 Tennessee Williams play and directed by Elia Kazan, was brought to life through Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. Brando's portrayal of Stanley Kowalski was amazing. From the moment Stanley walked onto the scene, Brando grabbed my full attention. I almost found it hard not to fall in love with Stanley myself, with Brando's great looks and Stanley's sarcastic humor. Yet, Brando pulled off the barbarian destruction of Stanley's character well. Vivien Leigh destroyed Blanche DuBois brilliantly as well. Being known for her beloved role in Gone With the Wind, directed by Victor Fleming in 1939, Leigh is remembered as beautiful and graceful. However, I thought DuBois' immoral and pathetic character was brought to the screen perfectly by Leigh.

     Brando riveted the screen from temper tantrum to sensual husband to rapist. I can well see how the role shot Brando into the spotlight. He carried off the humor of Stanley's character as well as the violence. And throughout the film, one sees a little more of Stanley's character decay each time one watches him. When he loses his temper over a radio playing over his loud poker game, one hates him. Yet, somehow he always comes back looking lovable. When Stanley shouts for excitement over the birth of a son, one loves him. Brando played the spectrum of Stanley Kowalski in an amazing manner, well suited to Williams' work.

     Leigh as well captured the true character of Blanche DuBois. She is seen as what once was a great beauty, who has now tried to seize upon her last chance of happiness only to come up with failure and despair. Leigh showed the face of despair and a haunted past. When the cat finally came out of the bag about her immoral past, her voice dropped to a new low as did her character. I thought Vivien Leigh brought the destruction of DuBois out brilliantly.

     The words of Williams' work were portrayed wonderfully by two talented actors: two actors seen as beautiful and graceful, yet coming through on screen as wretched and horrid. Stanley's barbarian cruelty and Blanche's immoral and eventual insanity were wonderfully delineated by Leigh and Brando. They brought out the destruction of two characters brilliantly, and Kazan captured it beautifully in the adaptation of Tennessee Williams' great contemporary piece of literature.

Kaycee Cooper

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