A Streetcar Named Brando

     Marlon Brando as Stanley in Elia Kazan's 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire , based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, added intensity and meaning to his role, and it is undeniable that he was able to reach his audience, at least his female audience, in every aspect of his performance. Brando is simply dynamic in his appearance on screen, which was audible in the gasps throughout the classroom when he first appeared in the movie. He displays characteristics of the strong-willed stubborn male chauvinist that produces an emothion of contempt for him; but, yet, he is also the loving, caring husband and protector, which earns him respect from many viewers and makes most females swoon. When the complete package is portrayed on screen, Stanley becomes a charismatic figure that you love to hate, but, at the same time, hate to love.

     Stanley shows only a strong hand and heart to Blanche, played by Vivien Leigh, but she does not back down from him, which he is not used to. In this way, and many others, Blanche provokes him into being even harder with her. She entices him in a twisted way by infuriating him and driving him to distraction. Brando displays his desire in hidden ways, but these instances cannot be missed by a close observer. These shadowy inuendos add depth to Stanley's character and keep the viewer enthralled wondering exactly what he is thinking and what he is going to do next.

     Stanley's interactions with Stella (Kim Hunter) are of a different caliber than that of with Blanche because he can go from hurtful and violent to loving and supportive in an instant. He and Stella have an explosive relationship that consists of two extremes: blissfully happy and crazy about one another or contemptuous and damaging emotionally and physically. However, his desire for her is blatant and undisguisable, much like her desire for him. Blanche's desire in many scenes is also obvious, such as when she asks him coyly to button her dress and in her other discourses with him that drip with lust.

     Basically I cannot believe that Tennessee Williams was reluctant at all in casting Brando in the role of Stanley. He gives the character a range of qualities that demand respect and awe. In essence, Brando puts the word "desire" in the title.

Amberly McLimore

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