Manly Stanley, Mainly Stanley? Brando Bigger than A Streecar Named Desire

         I admit it. I missed the theme on this one. Brando was so overpowering that I was left thinking that A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947 and directed by Elia Kazan on 1951, was about the over-abusive Pole, Stanley Kowalski, played by a youthful Marlon Brando. Everything else seemed just to support his actions and reactions to his wife Stella, depicted by Kim Hunter and to Blanche DuBois, portrayed by Vivien Leigh.

         It is hard at first to realize it is a story of Blanche DuBois and her life. It is a story of how she came to be at Elysian Fields. It tells of her early life; a life of wealth and social status in Mississippi. It tells of her struggles with deaths of her family and loss of her husband (the film leaves out the homosexuality of her husband found in the play) and how she came to be in the state she is in.

         Blanche is seen as a person that desperately tries to hold onto her youth and her needs to be loved. She appears to have two personalities, with the beat-down, spiteful, revengeful voice shining through at times. It is she that drives a wedge between Stella and Stanley by being less than truthful. She thus causes Stella to find out the truth through Stanley that she had been a harlot living in a second-rate hotel and had lost her job teaching by being immoral and having an affair with a seventeen-year-old student.

         Her lies and presence disrupt the life of Stanley and Stella, and she causes a lot of grief between them. She brings misery to the household of a man that is like a powder keg, and he does blow.

         These explosions from Stanley and the psycho nature of Blanche show how truly dynamic this play is. It is in this respect that Kazan does shine in his direction of the actors in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Ron Watkins

Table of Contents