Marlon’s Magic Falls Short

         While Stanley Kowalski is no one's hero, given his grotesque behavior in both the 1947 play and the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando gives the performance of a lifetime in the film, making Stanley Kowalski a man everyone loves to hate and hates to love. Brando played Stella's (Kim Hunter) hero and Blanche's (Vivien Leigh) villain but serves as both to the film's viewers, who are torn between which Stanley they should love or hate more.

         No other actor could have played Stanley Kowalski better than Brando did. He is the loving husband and hateful rapist that the character must be to fulfill the role Tennessee Williams created. Kowalski is abusive, both verbally and physically, which Brando brought so realistically to the screen in the film; but, even more evident, is the love he holds in his heart for Stella.

         Through his expressive eyes and heart-warming moments, Brando becomes the Hollywood heartthrob admirers knew him to be in Streetcar and subsequent films, despite the fact that he plays an abusive husband. However, even at the end of the play, when Blanche has been escorted away by the doctor and matron, and Stella doubts her own husband, she still goes back to him. In the film, she leaves him; but, in the play, she stays. It is a complicated decision for her to make, the choice between her sister and her husband; but Stella chooses Stanley in the play.

         One of the most ironic parts about the film is that, with Stanley, viewers are given a face with which to associate his character. He is a character who loves his wife, works hard, tries but fails, and a character that can be cruel enough to rape his wife's sister. It is Marlon Brando's face-a face that has captured the hearts of many-and Stella finds a way to walk away from it, which would be no easy task for any woman, especially if he gives her his "Stellaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah mating call again?

Vanessa Childers

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