Marlon Brando, one of the finest actors to be put on screen, is showcased in near perfect form in Elia Kazan's 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire, based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play. The film displays a Brando that much of my generation has never seen. It is a Brando that is raw, and focused. His youth lends itself to be manipulated by his explosive talent and harnessed to take full advantage of the actors own rage channeled through the Brutish Stanley Kowalski.
Kowalski is like a rabid dog fighting to protect himself and his home. He is explosive and unpredictable. His gritty performance lends credibility to the Tennessee Williams-based script, and his slow-witted accent make him all the more volatile as if he is constantly on the verge of erupting. His slow, marauding manner leaves one waiting for the moment he will fly off his hinges. This wonderful character is set against Vivien Leigh's Blanche and Kim Hunter's Stella.
Stanley is an animal that refuses to let anyone challenge his domain. He sees Blanche as a threat; and, like any wild animal caged by society he is going to snap and bite at the first person he can. His drunken rages are wonderful to watch on screen, and the spark in his eye is something that must be enjoyed in his earlier works as it seems to be missing in any film after The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1972.
Brando's raw truthful performances would become a thing of legend. When Brando was on, people noticed. He was mesmerizing to watch, giving some of the most honest performances found in American cinema. Unfortunately like most animals, Brando would become tame; and his performances would become uninspired, leaving one to long for a time when he was just a roughneck in a stained white T-shirt, crying out for Stella.