A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951) B/W 125m dir: Elia Kazan

w/Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias, Edna Thomas, Wright King, Richard Garrick, Ann Dere

From The Movie Guide: "In this consensual screen classic, Marlon Brando is electrifying as working-class hunk Stanley Kowalski, reprising his Broadway role in Tennessee Williams's most famous play. Elia Kazan, who directed the play in New York, made the trek west for the film, joined by Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias, and Edna Thomas from the stage version. Only Jessica Tandy, who had been a smash as Blanche DuBois on Broadway, was replaced --- studio chiefs felt that she wasn't well-known enough for the movie. The role went to Vivien Leigh, who had been starring in a London presentation of the play directed by her husband, Laurence Olivier. The resulting film is an actors' showcase and a flamboyant, sometimes uneasy admixture of Manhattan and Hollywood sensibilities.

"The film opens with Blanche (Leigh) arriving in New Orleans, where she intends to stay with her pregnant sister Stella Kowalski (Hunter) and her brutish husband Stanley (Brando). (To get to their seedy apartment, Blanche has to take a streetcar named Desire --- named after a New Orleans street.) Stella, an earthy, pragmatic woman, seems happy in her marriage to the trashy but overtly sexual Stanley, but Blanche is delicate, morose, and deeply neurotic. Stanley immediately sees through Blanche's southern-belle facade and the two are quickly at odds. As sexual and financial tensions escalate, Stanley sets out to reveal the truth about Blanche.

"A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE features some of the finest ensemble acting ever offered on the screen, speaking some of Williams's most vivid dialogue. Kazan's direction, however, sometimes verges on the pedestrian, as though he's struggling to recreate his Broadway staging in a much more visually demanding medium. Leigh, in the final great triumph of her screen career, is the very picture of tattered magnificence. She's like a cracked figurine from The Glass Menagerie come to life; her emotional choices are tragic and horrifying at the same time. Brando has no peer when it comes to conveying the physical threat and sexual potency that make the character work. Kim Hunter is more than adequate in the most sketchily written role. Three minutes of footage censored from the original were restored in a 1994 video re-release."

Oscars went to Leigh (Best Actress), Malden (Supporting Actor), and Hunter (Supporting Actress); and to the film for Best Art Direction (Richard Day). STREETCAR was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Brando), Screenplay (Williams), Cinematography (Harry Stradling), Score (Alex North), Costume Design (Lucinda Ballard), and Sound (Colonel Nathan Levinson).