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66. A Streetcar Named Desire; movie review

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Title : 66. A Streetcar Named Desire; movie review
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Cert 12A
120 mins
BBFC advice: Contains moderate violence

Sunday morning and we beat Storm Ciara!
Against the odds - and ferocious winds, our plane took off from East Midlands Airport and I got stuck into a downloaded version of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Of course, being buffeted in an aircraft is not the ideal way of watching a movie but I have to admit that I take every chance I can get to keep my figures of viewing movies high (geddit?).
And I still felt the full force of the passion of 27-year-old Marlon Brando in his first major role alongside a powerful lead from Vivien Leigh.
Elia Kazan's movie is a shouting match, centred almost entirely on a tiny apartment in sweltering New Orleans.
I felt I could almost touch the sweat as Blanche Dubois (Leigh) arrives at the home her sister (Kim Hunter) shares with her punchy husband, Stanley (Brando).
Blanche tells her tale of embellishments and downright lies with supreme eloquence, thanks to Tennessee Williams' beautifully crafted script.
Because of its low number of cast numbers and limited set, it always has the feel of the original theatre piece.
Brando is magnetic, one-minute eloquent and loving and the next smashing up his apartment in rage at the antics of Blanche.
However, we have a different perspective on Leigh's performance than would have been the case in 1951.
At that point, she would have been simply labelled 'nuts' but only now can we see that her delusions are signs of mental illness.
Actually, come to think of it, Stanley's actions would be rightly perceived as domestic violence nowadays.
Leigh is towering as Blanche but, after a while, her uppitiness and over-egged sense of grandeur started to wear me down.
Indeed, my problem with Streetcar Named Desire is its repetitiveness - so much so, that both the explosions of Blanche and Stanley become predictable.
Nevertheless, it is a movie of its time and will forever be remembered as the launchpad for one of the greatest actors to emerge from Hollywood.

Reasons to watch: Brando's debut lead
Reasons to avoid: Too melodramatic

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 8.5/10

Did you know? Jessica Tandy was the only lead from the Broadway play to be dropped for the film. Vivien Leigh had played the role of Blanche in a London production but, more importantly, was a household name thanks to her Oscar-winning role as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind.

The final word. Elia Kazan Well, there was no audition (for Brando in his debut on stage). I had produced a play with Harold Clurman where he played a part. And he played a six-minute scene, and he was stupendous. (Later) I began to think who really would be good as Stanley Kowalski, I thought of Marlon and gave him 20 bucks to go up and see Tennessee Williams. NPR

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