The Many Faces of Blanche DuBois

        I think that Vivien Leigh was a perfect choice for the part of Blanche DuBois in the movie A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan in 1951and based on Tennessee Williamsí 1947 play. In my opinion Vivien Leigh was the perfect southern woman. It is also a funny anecdote to know that she was not by any means southern. When she plays Blanche, her fragile state of mind lends itself to her portrayal of the character.

        It takes a great actress to portray a complex character like Blanche DuBois. One would have to be able to have the ability to encompass the whole southern package, to have the accent/drawl, the manners and the every action of a southern lady. This would take a very rounded actress--someone that could step out of the box and absorb herself into the character of Blanche. One would need to be strong on the outside, but very, very fragile on the inside.

        In 1992 Jessica Lange reprised the role. She also is a believable actress as a southern woman. I have not seen this version of the play, but I have seen Ms. Lange in numerous movies in which she plays southern characters including the later version of the movie Cape Fear, directed in 1991 by Martin Scorsese. I can visualize her in the part of Blanche. In the original Broadway version Ms. Jessica Tandy played the part of Blanche DuBois; I personally think that this was a good choice by Irene Mayer Selznick to have cast her in this part. I feel that Ms. Tandy would have been an exquisite Blanche DuBois. She also looked the part of a very delicate woman but spoke as if everyone just had to listen. I can believe she captivated the audiences with every performance because she did in every one I have seen her in. My only regret is that I was not able to see Ms. Tandy on Broadway. I can only imagine the fireworks between Mrs. Tandy and Mr. Brando each and every night at every show. She, like Ms. Vivien Leigh showed grace, beauty, intelligence and strength as a southern woman.

        It takes a very special artist to play a southern person and not be perceived as stupid. Too many times performers are saddled with parts as southern people, and they play the character as an uneducated, crude, uncivilized unrefined hillbilly. These are the reasons that I believe that Vivien Leigh makes the best version of Blanche. She brought the character of Blanche through several personalities before ending in a crumpled heap of mental angst.

Kristin Anderson

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