A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)




Elia Kazan




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


Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh), a fragile, neurotic and disturbed woman, moves in with her sister Stella (Kim Hunter) in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law (Marlon Brando) while her reality crumbles around her.


Given the great reputation that precedes the film, I went into it with high hope, and I was left disappointed.

While it wouldn't be fair calling it awful, I can't even say it is great. "A Streetcar Named Desire" indeed is a fine, but uneven drama, at times very interesting, at times very dragged on and boring.

I haven't had the pleasure - or displeasure - to see Tennessee William's play, but the way Kazan turned it into a movie didn't make the story particularly interesting for me, and never managed to impress me. 

The slow-moving and neurotic plot makes it hard to pick someone to root for. Everyone seems to be the "bad guy", and just when you start feeling something for one of the characters they let you down. One is probably supposed to sympathize with Blanche against the rude Stanley, but I didn't feel anything for any of the characters, not until the end, when, even though Blanche's mysterious history emerged, I couldn't help but feel commiseration for her.

Also it seems a bit too dated. I'm sure nothing could have been done differently because of the time's censorship, but 60 years later the film really suffers from that as it diminished the intensity in some scenes, and the powerful shocking value the story seems aiming for lacks completely.

What makes the film worth watching are the performances. While Vivian Leigh gives a tremendous performance as the emotionally fragile Blanche, and really convinces with her descent into madness, Marlon Brando stands out. The power of his presence is obvious, and his portrayal of Stanley Kowalski is sensational. The supporting cast could have done a better job, but I guess they have been overshadowed by the leads.


  1. I can see what you mean because it is a play made into a film. I also found it slow in parts but the acting was great. How anyone would go back to Stanley, I have no idea. Vivien Leigh was undergoing electric shock treatment during this time as well so I look at her character & can't help but think of her own illness she had to deal with

    1. Oh, I didn't know about Leigh's problem at the time. She really did an impressive job here despite that.