Keeping with the Desire

        A Streetcar Named Desire was written by Tennessee Williams in 1947. The movie came along in 1951 and was directed by Elia Kazan. This film is a close adaptation of the movie because the characters of Blanche, Stella, and Mitch are portrayed in the same way.

        The character of Blanche (Vivien Leigh) was the only character form the play that did not have the same actress in the movie. However, Leigh’s Blanche, like Jessica Tandy’s Blanche, was portrayed as an aging woman who did not know what to do without her looks. She had psychological problems due to her young husband killing himself. This leads Blanche down a road of getting mixed up with a student, becoming a “whore” and a pathological liar.

        Stella (Kim Hunter, who depicted Stella in the play) is the younger sister of Blanche. Stella as portrayed as being a lovesick dog. Dogs are loyal and always go back to their masters no matter how badly they are treated. She is also a woman who is pregnant, so she does not have many options when it comes to leaving her husband. Stella is just a lost cause; she is in a bad situation and does not want out.

        Finally there is Stanley (Marlon Brando, who portrayed him on the stage). Stanley is the husband of Stella. He is rough around the edges and seems barbaric at times. He tries to provide a good home, but at the same time he is physically and verbally abusive. When he gets liquor in him, he has a temper out of this world. Stanley not only abuses his pregnant wife but also brutalizes her insane sister. While his wife is in the hospital, he rapes Blanche.

        Yhe last character is Mitch (Karl Malden, another carryover from the stage production), Mitch is the “nice guy” in the bunch. He cares about his dying mother and works hard. He is sweet and naive, and that is how Blanche gets into his life. Mitch is a “genuine guy” who does not want to believe anything bad about Blanche until he is forced to do so.

        By keeping the characters Tennessee Williams created as the same in the movie, Kazan and the other film makers have produced a very close adaptation from play to movie. Having almost all the same principal cast members did not hurt either.

Kelly Kneer

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