The Perfect Stanley

         It must have been hard to find someone to play a drunk, an abuser and such a likeable character all at the same time. Elia Kazan did it in his 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the 1947 play by Tennessee Williams. He cast Marlon Brando to play the part of the power-driven, abusive Stanley Kowalski. Of all the film adaptations viewed during this course, Marlon Brando most successfully transformed himself into his role.

         After reading the 1947 play by Tennessee Williams, I was eager to see how Brando would portray Stanley. I did not know much about Brando, but had heard many other students speak about him in a positive light. I think Brando surpassed all of my expectations of him as Stanley. From the moment he was tearing through Blanche's belongings to the final moments of him screaming at Stella to return to him, Brando was Stanley. I particularly enjoyed the scene of Blanche's birthday. When Stanley felt demeaned by Stella's name-calling and snide comments, he was quick to reclaim his place as king of his castle. The way he threw his plate against the wall and stood glaring over Stella and Blanche sent chills down my spine. He is ruthless, conniving and powerful, just as the image of Stanley from the play was in my head. But that is not what makes Brando the perfect character. The fact that I could like and hate him at the same time was remarkable. He was attractive, and it was easy to see how someone like Stella could become so wrapped up in her sexual desire for him. He seemed to have this ability to justify his actions and make himself seem like the everyday man simply protecting his home from the invader. His performance was admirable and true. He seemed made for the part.

         It is hard to find good actors today without paying them millions to star in films. Marlon Brando seemed to really have a passion for playing Stanley, and it shows on the screen. His performance made me feel as if I were part of the film. I do not believe any other actor could have done that and made it seem so effortless.

Michelle Farney

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