Sunday, February 20, 2011

Streetcar Named Desire - the Film

I just finished watching for the second time the complete Streetcar film with Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando, and was tremendously moved by the film. Remembering some of the comments at our discussion two weeks ago, I know some thought that Brando was overemphasized in the film version, and it's true his performance is so mesmerizing you can't take your eyes off him -- or his body -- when he is performing. Leigh was deliberately dressed old fashioned and fussy and somehow it didn't add much to her character, and despite the occasional lapse into her Scarlet O'Hara voice, she delivered most of her lines in an affecting, scattered way that helped tremendously in making the last scene very moving. I now understand why this is one of the great roles for women and why Brando can be accused of skewing it. At the same time I don't believe he gave a better performance in any other film. But those who have never seen it, the wait is worth it.

By the way, the music didn't seem to jive with the music directions in the stage version.


walter said...

Some of you may see/read Nick Benton's somewhat eccentric column in Metro Weekly. His theme this week is that the movie of Streetcar is the "Greatest Gay Film Ever" because it began "the new wave of social progress that led into the 1960." However, one feels about that statement he goes on to say something that, I think, gives an interesting answer to our question about Blanche's character being a gay one. He says "Blanche embraces the archtypical gay sensibility....She is confronted and dissembled [disassembled?] by the boorish Sranley and his slavish wife, Blanche's sister, Stella, archtypes both in their respective roles and in their relationship of brutaal white male-dominated society. The profound injustice portrayed so poignantly by Williams spoke directly to the oppression of women and gays...."

walter said...


Tim said...

Benton's "column" is a paid advertisement. You won't be able to view it on MetroWeekly's website. You can however read it on his own. I agree with his characterizations, but his assertion that Streetcar "sparked a consciousness in relevant circles, including and on college campuses across the land" is just that.

Worth its own viewing is the Norman Rockwell Benton cites. There's no disputing the antecedence of April 8, 1933, before December 3, 1947, but "Spring Awakening" (my title) is gay mostly insofar as it's appealing to gays. As the Saturday Evening Post website makes clear, even in 1933 Rockwell was drawing on earlier artistic styles (Maxfield Parrish).