Desire for A Streetcar Named Desire

        I believe that Tennessee Williams would applaud the 1951 cinematic version of his 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire. The director of the movie was Elia Kazan, and the screenplay was written by Tennessee Williams himself. But in the end it is up to the director how the film is created and how the script is portrayed. There are a lot of similarities and quite a few differences in the play version versus the 1951 cinematic film version.

        The characters are all the same, and the cast is very much the same as was in the original play. The film version had a new actress for the role of Blanche Dubois, Vivien Leigh. It kept Kim Hunter as Stella and Marlon Brando as Stanley. Personally I believe that Marlon Brando was the shining star of this play and movie; he became so adapted to his character’s role for the play; and he carried those emotions into the role of Stanley for the original film version. Kazan made a good choice in adding Vivien Leigh to the cast list because her performance as Blanche is absolutely stunning. She even won a Best Actress Award for her role in the movie.

        The romances of the play and the film version are followed perfectly; I could not have better pictured the wooing Blanche did in order to win Mitch, Stanley’s friend (Karl Malden). Mitch thought he was in love with Blanche, and she made everyone believe that she really loved him as well. Until Stanley told his friend the truth about Blanche and her history with men, money and her other scandalous activities, then Mitch was through with her. Also, Brando and Hunter had formed a bond during the Broadway production and carried that over to the screen for the cinematic version. In the beginning of the play/movie their love is strong, and she is very loving and forgiving. But throughout the story, as he begins to show his hatred for her sister more, hit her, and become a meaner person all-together, she ends up leaving him. They love each other dearly, but they constantly fight. This constant fighting was written very descriptively by Williams for the play version partly because in plays one must often be over-dramatic and the actors must follow the lines they are given. Therefore the writer must be very detailed when writing the script for a play, especially a play as important as a Broadway production.

        The love between the characters Stella and Stanley Kowalski is a strong love and could survive very strenuous levels of pressure. Their marriage almost did not make it after he hit her, but she came back because she wanted her baby to have its father.

        At the end of the play/movie, Blanche is taken away to a psych-ward for insanity. She was imagining things and had thought someone rich was coming to take her away on a cruise; in reality it was a psychological doctor knocking on the door to take her away. Vivien Leigh portrayed this character so well; she made it seem as if she was going crazy herself. But she was not at all; she was just a brilliant actress.

        That is the biggest applauding for A Streetcar Named Desire: the cast was phenomenal and so profoundly into character that the audience could not tear their eyes away from the stage or the screen. I believe that Williams applauded his and Kazan’s work on the 1951 cinematic version of A Streetcar Named Desire more than he would have the other film versions of his 1947 play.

Caina Lynch