I had put off watching this video for sometime. I was afraid that I might be disappointed in this classic. Instead I was drawn into this marvelous film with its great Tennesse Williams' script.
Williams doesn't let any of his characters off. Brando's Stanley is a boorish, bullying, loudmouth. But he also possesses an extraordinary physical sexuality and also seems to be more than a little bit of a victim himself. Life has not been smooth for Stanley. No silver spoon here. Both his wife and sister-in-law put him down as a crude "Polack" and other variations on that theme. Not that there isn't some obvious truth to their put downs. However, truly nice people (as opposed to "nice" people) do not engage in such speech. There's also the table scene where Stanley is eating chicken and receives a harsh verbal reprimand from Stella. Whereupon he sees the tactics of class shame being used and he proceeds to blow up in a very physical and blue collar fashion. Stanley sexually assaults Blanche at he end of the film. Blanche was already hearing voices by this time in the film, and this act of aggression pushes her over the edge. Brando's performance was really superb.
Hunter's Stella is by far the most likeable character of the major 3 players. She's honest, kind, sexy, and very much in love with Stanley--despite his obvious faults. The depiction of the physical love and lust between Stanley and Stella is classic. She also loves her sister and wants what's best for her. She and Blanche collude to some extent against Stanley which provides much of the film's strongest tensions. Stella is financially and sexually/emotionally dependent on Stanley, but she's also a strong character in her own right. We don't really know for sure if she'll go back to Stanley at the end of the film after the baby and the sexual aggression against Blanche. We do know that Stanley for all his macho swagger is extremely emotionally dependent on her.
Vivien Leigh's character was a revelation. I thought the most brilliant moments in the film were towards the end when her character was speaking. I didn't really think Leigh's accent was all that great, but hey, when you can act like that who cares? Blanche is a victim, but Blanche is anything but innocent. She was having sex with one of her high school English lit students back in Mississippi. Naturally, the small town locals did not take a shine to such behavior. Also, she was more than just a bit on the promiscuous side for a high school teacher in mid-century small town America. It's not surprising that she got chased out of her small town teaching job. There's also the touching scene where she asks for and gets a kiss from the boy who is collecting for the newspaper. It's all tied in to her love for the boy who killed himself over her when she was 16. She said some very cruel words to him about being weak which led to the boy's suicide. She's not an innocent--by any means. The sexual attraction between Stanley and her is noticeable in a number of scenes. And yet for all her pretentiousness, lies, and putting on airs, the audience is drawn to her. Her fading beauty, vulnerability, and weakness can hardly help but elicit a sympathetic response. Blanche is the human condition writ large. In some respects there is some of Blanche in all of us: hidden ugliness from the past, both emotional and sexual neediness, and just plain old human weakness. I think Leigh's performance was really brilliant. And thank God for Tennnessee Williams and his ability to portray people more as we are than as we would like to be.
I do agree with at least one of the previous viewers that the term "nymphomaniac" seems somewhat out-of-date in describing Blanche. Blanche uses sex in a promiscuous fashion to escape from her loneliness. I think this is the same pathology that both men and women engage in when having "casual--such a strange contradiction in terms--sex". I certainly don't think that Williams saw her as either a "nympho" or a "slut". Rather, just a lonely, tortured individual.
A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire
Blanche DuBois, a high school English teacher with an aristocratic background from Auriol, Mississippi, decides to move to live with her sister and brother-in-law, Stella and Stanley Kowalski, in New Orleans after creditors take over the family property, Belle Reve. Blanche has also decided to take a break from teaching as she states the situation has frayed her nerves. Knowing nothing about Stanley or the Kowalskis' lives, Blanche is shocked to find that they live in a cramped and run down ground floor apartment - which she proceeds to beautify by putting shades over the open light bulbs to soften the lighting - and that Stanley is not the gentleman that she is used to in men. As such, Blanche and Stanley have an antagonistic relationship from the start. Blanche finds that Stanley's hyper-masculinity, which often displays itself in physical outbursts, is common, coarse and vulgar, being common which in turn is what attracted Stella to him. Beyond finding Blanche's delicate ...
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January 24, 2019 at 12:23 PM