Wednesday, January 11, 2012
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951)
Classics Revisited Book Group (Posting 4)
A Streetcar Named Desire directed by Elia Kazan
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
The thing about comparing a movie to the text of the play is that the play is written to be performed and watched over being read. I would certainly do both with A Streetcar Named Desire, but regardless, the original movie does have much going for it. The strength of Tennessee’s story, the New Orleans setting brought to life by director Elia Kazan and the great cast led by Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando all make this required viewing.
There were a couple of censorship issues that the movie couldn’t deal with adequately. I’m speaking primarily of Blanche Du Bois (Vivien Leigh) confessing to Mick (Karl Malden) that her ex-husband was a homosexual. Since she couldn’t say it this way, the script changes the confession to say that he was a …poet. What was that, again?
Another censorship issue that actually works to the films advantage is the rape scene, which is symbolized by a crashing mirror. The audience doesn’t see exactly what happens and this makes the drama and horror of it more effective.
Since I’m not making a real choice between play or movie here, I will choose the Kazan/Brando collaboration on Streetcar over the Kazan/Brando collaboration on On the Waterfront just because I felt the need to choose something.