There are distinct schools of acting, each specializing in its own style. Furthermore, there are good reasons that these so-called styles are kept separated. One medium can call for a completely different style then another. What works in Japanese No Theatre just looks silly when being applied to a Shakespearean play. There are of course more subtle crossings over.

         The performance given by Vivian Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan in 1951 and based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, would be superb if she were on stage. She obviously did not adapt the style of her acting to the necessary medium. She is as theatrical as if she were on stage from the way she delivers her lines to the way she moves across the floor. Why she attacked the role in such a manner is mysterious to me. Jessica Tandy created the role on stage. She did not get cast in the film, however, due to her stature as a lesser known actress at the time. This is not unlike what happened to Julie Andrews when My Fair Lady , directed by George Cuker in 1964, was cast. That role went instead to Audrey Hepburn. In both cases it is my opinion that the creators of the roles would have been more capable of performing them than the actresses who took them over for the respective films.

         On the other side of the spectrum, the great Marlon Brando, who portrayed an unforgettable Stanley Kowalski in both the film and on stage, did an excellent job of adapting styles. His theatrical style was praised and well reviewed because he had performed as a thespian. His film role was praised because he had turned himself into a film actor flawlessly. That is the mark of a truly great actor--one who can adapt to any medium and be convincing.

         Unfortunately for the film, Leigh simply did not do this transforming from stage to screen acting, whereas Brando most certainly did achieve that desired goal.

Andreas Shabaan

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