The One and Only Stanley

     Whenever the title A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947, is mentioned one name comes to mind, Marlon Brando. Even people who have never seen the 1951 Elia Kazan film A Streetcar Named Desire, know that Marlon Brando played the part of Stanley. The scene with Stanley yelling for Stella at the bottom of the stairs has been etched into the American psyche.

     Very few films come to mind that only one person is thought of when a character's name is mentioned. One film would be Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 film The Godfather. The character of Don Corleone, acted again by the great Marlon Brando, is a character that could only be done by Brando. Brando has the ability to bring a special uniqueness to the characters that he portrays.

     As Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire, Brando gives Stanley a personality that one loves to hate. Despite Stanley's, sometimes-violent temper, the audience cannot help but like him. When Stanley is talking bad of Blanche, played by Vivien Leigh, and throws all her clothes out of her trunk, Brando has a way of making the audience sympathize with Stanley. Blanche's almost insane behavior does help Stanley seem justified in his actions and mistrust of Blanche. At the end of the film, after Stanley has raped Blanche, while his wife, Stella, acted by Kim Hunter, is having their first child, one still finds it hard to hate Brando. But when Stella leaves him, one cannot blame her for leaving; Stanley's actions were inexcusable.

     The idea of anyone else, beside Marlon Brando, playing the part of Stanley is hard to imagine. No other actors come to mind that could give Stanley the personality the Brando gave him. Others have tried on the stage, but even then Branbo is the one thought of. Brando also played Stanley on Broadway; he was the first person to act the part. So know matter, who else plays Stanley Kowalski, there will only be on Stanley in my mind.

Colin Moore

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