The Name of that Rattle-Trap Streetcar that Bangs through the Quarter

         Directed by Elia Kazan in 1951, A Streetcar Named Desire has long been a celebrated film for its impeccable script from the play written in 1947 by Tennessee Williams, and for the unforgettable performances from Kazan's superb cast. In this paper I will focus on the actors of this film concerning their character development and overall delivery.

         Marlon Brando was new to the silver screen when this feature debuted; he had previous experience with this piece from playing the role of Stanley Kowalski on stage, and Kazan knew he could not make the film without Brando's involvement. Brando's performance in this film has never been forgotten; he has an entirely unique way of delivering his lines and developing the complexity of this character; displaying all of Stanley's different dimensions. Brando made this multifaceted part easy to love and easy to hate by delivering a roller coaster of emotions. In intense scenes he brought a heated performance; and, when a scene required a softer approach, he could become a loveable character.

         Whenever Vivien Leigh is involved in a film she finds a way to add a snobbish and sassy dimension to her roles that also remain easy to adore, and this film was no different. Blanche DuBois pranced around the Kowalski home as if she were a queen and maintained that feeling throughout most of the film. It is always a daunting task to play the role of someone who is mentally disturbed, and it was fascinating to see Leigh play this kind of role. I thought she grasped this personality beautifully and made a very gradual and smooth transition from mentally stable toward clearly unstable.

         I did not enjoy many elements of this film but could easily appreciate it for the engaging cast. Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh captured the essence of their characters entirely, which, for me, was unexpected. So, because of this factor I would recommend this film to other movie lovers.

Lydia Davis

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