A Streetcar Named Desire is about a former English teacher named Blanche DuBois (French for Whitewood) played by Vivien Leigh, who after some tragic losses of her family, leaves her hometown Mississippi for an unknown amount of time and moves in with her sister Stella and husband Stanley, who are living in a dilapidated two-room house with a compassionate lady living upstairs. Stanley and Stella are expecting a baby in a few months time, and Stanley is unsure of two things: whether he should be excited for this baby or not, and if Blanche is being all nice because she is, or because she wants to intimidate Stanley. You can tell how Blanche just wants to stay polite when Stanley finds all these old papers, is humungously curious about them, and Blanche says, "I'm sorry, I must have lost my mind." I don't think Blanche loses her mind ever, to be honest. Blanche decides this is the perfect time to try and find love.
This is a mind-wandering but heartwarming movie with a fantastic uncubic performance from Vivien Leigh, who is quite likeable as an addled frightened lassie with a Texan mouth instrument like an early Faye Dunaway (who starred in some hit sixties movies like Bonnie and Clyde and The Thomas Crown Affair. And right from the start, Marlon Brando as Stanley is the right choice for the intimidating chew-gum hook-up-with-the-gal-at-the-port no-care still-somehow-sometimes-gentle type he is. Not to mention his voice sounds like Donald Trump's. A good fit if you ask me. So acting? Good enough to help add personality to these characters who we don't really know a lot about other than that they are, as far as we know, typical folk. When we are first introduced to Stanley, he is sweating and his skin is shiny; he also isn't really polite to Blanche upon her arrival. I wasn't sure if he was socially awkward or having a bad day, but I was paying attention to see if there was a sparkle between him and Blanche.
So my opinion on how the movie was crafted? I was thinking a lot about David Tennant's Hamlet as I was watching this because I still hadn't recovered from the endurance test that was, where the actors all played their roles incorrectly and stood around like background mannequins. The reason I was thinking of it is because this is based on a play too. Though this adaptation is sometimes unintentionally confusing, at least this one doesn't look like they're reading their lines from offscreen and just stand around only for pointless screen time. The large dialogue renditions are very blobby and sometimes distracting though, especially when a character, notably Blanche, gives a speech about her lost life, acting like there's nobody else in the room, and we would rather be watching a clearer flashback. During Blanche's speeches, in which they are the longest, sometimes they're so long that the point can get a little lost. Plus, Blanche's relationship with Mitch and how it is always apparently in the dark is a little unnecessary and weird. If Blanche was trying to hide her age, she could've used lots of makeup like she is shown to already do. But unlike David Tennant's Hamlet, we care about our protagonist enough to make our hearts bump a little during a surpringly treacherous last ten minutes (and it's not what you think.) For example, Stanley goes through Stella's clothes for a little while saying how useless they are and how she is spending all their hard-earned money. Both actors show they are committed; Brando shows anger and Kim Hunter as Stella shows fear in trying to keep all the clothes in good condition without getting hurt. Not to mention that whenever Stanley snaps, it's impossible to take your eyes off the screen. Windows break, punches are thrown, and some material that was close to illegal at the time of its release (it's kind of funny how we had less abilities and right to put...revealing...things on screen but there was more racism at the same time) is shown as much as it was allowed to.
During my last French class, we saw a play-movie thingy of a horrid play by Moliere called L'Avare, and there, the characters all stayed in one entirely black house and I was a little worried the whole movie was going to be like that if it stayed in this two-room house. Fortunately, it kind of doesn't. It has to; it was a Hollywood film. And the lighting and minor effects helps with this; director Elia Kazan actually had the walls move closer together the more the movie happened to make the viewers like us feel chlostrophobic, which it succeeds in, and the lighting makes most of the days on screen seem like nighttime or evenings, where everything's a little extra macabre and Blanche, hence her shiny name, is the sun of all the bad. It's almost like Kazan wanted this to have a heist movie texture. I don't usually review backgrounds like this during my reviews, but here, it works fine. It made me admire the movie more rather than enhance my viewing pleasure.
So, in conclusion, A Streetcar Named Desire wasn't perfect and sometimes suffered from too-accurate play adaptation syndrome with too big of a script, but the actors pull the script back and make it fairly enjoyable. Not to mention I had the same reluctance about paying attention to this movie as Stella was about going down to Stanley when he laughably yet passionately screams her name. Twice. Both times unforgettably.