In the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947, and directed by Elia Kazan, Vivien Leigh played the one of the main characters, Blanche Dubois. When I watched this film, I was a little let down. Vivien Leigh is my most favorite actress. In Victor Fleming's 1939 Gone With the Wind she was perfect, but in this film I did not feel that the way they had her play the role was the best.
When I read the play, I liked it very much; it was actually my favorite of the entire semester; but, when I saw the film, my opinion completely changed. I had pictured Blanche in a totally different way. First of all, I did not feel she should have blond hair. I felt this way for two reasons; one Leigh does not look good as a blond, and second I simply did not picture Blanche as a blond. Another thing that made me not care for the film was the way Leigh played Blanche's character emotionally. From the beginning she seemed timid and scared, and a little wimpy. When I read the novel she seemed very strong-willed and very outspoken and flirtatious. I think this took away from her character completely; she was a strong woman; and she should have been portrayed that way. Another problem I had with this film was the film makers made Blanche seems crazy from the beginning, whereas in the play, I took it as she was fine until the rape, and that was what had made her snap. Also, I thought that they left out a key point in Blanche's story and a possible at least in part explanation for the way she behaved, her husband turning out to be gay. This was a big deal then; and I blamed her behavior on this traumatic experience, described in the play.
I enjoyed the story a great deal; I just think that the film could have had some things done differently, especially in the way Blanche was depicted. I guess this is a prime reason why one should read the book first. Many times theatre of the mind is the best way to see a story because that is the way one has imagined it, whereas in a film one is watching it the way someone else has imagined it. Unfortunately, that at times can ruin it for the viewer.