If I could award the laurel wreath to the best adaptation of a film viewed in this class, it would go to A Streetcar Named Desire. The play, written in 1947 by Tennessee Williams, was wonderfully adapted to film by Elia Kazan in 1951.
I feel this film truly does justice to the characters and the story. The casting for the film is fantastic. While Blanche (Vivien Leigh) is the main character, Stanley (Marlon Brando) is the star of the show. I feel that, because Williams wrote the story as a play, it may have given Kazan an advantage in turning it into a major motion picture. But with bad casting, any film can come out horribly. Also, it was very smart of Kazan to stick so closely to the original story. Some directors would have instantly added more to the story or even have taken away crucial moments.
As much as I would love to see a director do a modern day version of this film, I know it would be a bad idea. Some stories can only be told well by certain people. Just think about the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo & Juliet--a fantastic story ruined by a contemporary director.
One of the other things that makes Kazan's film so fantastic is his directing style. This story is not a fairy tale and needs to be told in a very realistic way. Elia Kazan is one of the great masters of film realism. He does not feel the need to make film over dramatic or showy. Many of today's directors get caught up in the hoopla of movie making. More of today's film makers should rediscover the films of yesterday and learn from directors like Kazan.
I love Kazan's ability to believe in Williams' choice of an ending. Not everyone gets a happy ending. Kazan could have easily made the story one of those that ends with the couple living happily ever after.
For Kazan's realistic approach to film making, I applaud him. For that and a fantastic performance by Marlon Brando, I would present Streetcar with the laurel wreath.