Academy Commits Highway Robbery

     Looking back on the 1952 Academy Awards, I am convinced that one thing is clear: Marlon Brando was robbed. His portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in the film A Streetcar Named Desire was Oscar-caliber. The 1951 film, directed by Elia Kazan and based on the Tennessee Williams 1947 play, was excellent all-around, with everything wonderful about it tying into Brando's performance.

     The role of Stanley seemed to be created for Marlon Brando, who had originally created it on Broadway, as directed by Elia Kazan. Brando had the perfect presence to play Stanley. His strength, sexuality, build, and even voice helped shape the character. While I was watching the film, I had such mixed feelings about Stanley. I hated the brutal, violent side to his character; but I also found him crudely charming, and of course, sexually appealing. I did not know if I loved him or hated him. No wonder the women in the film were so confused.

     Blanche DuBois (played by the unrecognizable Vivien Leigh) was a washed-up bag, and crazy on top of it. Leigh won the Academy Award, and rightfully so, but Brando's performance made Leigh seem good. The more Blanche complained about him, the cruder Stanley seemed to get. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Brando and Leigh interact on screen. One of my favorite scenes in the film occurs when Blanche meets the men for the first time during the poker game, and Stanley tells her that no one is going to stand up because she is there.

     Kim Hunter, who played Stella, also was the beneficiary of Brando's performance. Stanley and Stella's wild, passionate, and volatile relationship was evident in the film as it was in Williams' play. Their yelling could change to kissing in a matter of seconds.

     Stanley was a nice contrast from the character Mitch (Karl Malden). Mitch was the clean-cut, family-oriented "good guy," and Malden had the look that suited the role. I thought Mitch was definitely the "odd man out" in the film; he was too normal for the rest of them. I thought his fight scene with Stanley at the end was great.

     Leigh, Hunter, and Malden all won Academy Awards for their performances in A Streetcar Named Desire, but I do not believe any of them could have won without the outstanding job by Brando. He should have won an Academy Award. Who else but Brando could have stood outside soaking wet screaming "Stella?"

Krista Kimmel

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