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A Streetcar Named Desire (1951 film)

A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1951 American drama film, adapted from


A Streetcar Named Desire
Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play of the same name. It tells
the story of a southern belle, Blanche DuBois, who, after encountering a series of
personal losses, leaves her aristocratic background seeking refuge with her sister
and brother-in-law in a dilapidated New Orleans tenement. The Broadway
production and cast was converted to film with several changes.

Tennessee Williams collaborated with Oscar Saul and Elia Kazan on the
screenplay. Kazan, who directed the Broadway stage production, also directed the
black and white film. Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden were all cast
in their original Broadway roles. Although Jessica Tandy originated the role of
Blanche DuBois on Broadway, Vivien Leigh, who had appeared in the London
.[3]
theatre production, was cast in the film adaptation for her star power

Upon release of the film, Marlon Brando, virtually unknown at the time of the
play’s casting, rose to prominence as a major Hollywood movie star. The film
marked the first of Marlon Brando's four consecutive Academy Award
nominations for Best Actor and earned an estimated $4,250,000 at the US and
Canadian box office in 1951, making it the fifth biggest hit of the year.[4] In 1999,
Theatrical release poster by Bill Gold
A Streetcar Named Desire was selected for preservation in the United States
National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, Directed by Elia Kazan
historically, or aesthetically significant". Produced by Charles K.
Feldman
Screenplay by Tennessee
Williams
Contents Based on A Streetcar
Named Desire
Plot 1947 play
Cast by Tennessee
Differences from the play Williams

Reception Starring Vivien Leigh

In popular culture Marlon Brando


Kim Hunter
References
Karl Malden
External links
Music by Alex North
Cinematography Harry Stradling
Plot Edited by David Weisbart

Under mysterious circumstances, Blanche DuBois, an aging high school teacher, Distributed by Warner Bros.
leaves her home in Auriol, Mississippi to travel to New Orleans to live with her Release date September 18, 1951
sister, Stella Kowalski. She arrives on the train and boards a streetcar named
"Desire" and reaches her sister's home in the French Quarter where she discovers Running time 125 minutes[1]
that her sister and brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski, live in a cramped and
Country United States
dilapidated two-room apartment in an old New Orleans tenement. Blanche and
Language English
Stella are all that remain of an old aristocratic family. Blanche discloses that the
Budget $1.8 million[2]
family estate, Belle Reve, has been lost to creditors, and that she wants to stay Box office $8 million
with Stella and Stanley for a while. Blanche seems lost and broke, with nowhere (North America)[2]

to go. Stella welcomes her with an open heart.

From the start, Blanche and Stanley are wary of each other. Blanche has a
soft-spoken manner; Stanley is rough and loud. His mere presence seems
to threaten her, while her behavior and manner arouse suspicion in him.
She is especially adroit at patronizing and criticizing Stella from the start.
When interrogated about her past, struggling to be polite, Blanche says
that she was married and widowed at a young age. She says that she has
taken a leave of absence from her job due to her nerves. To satisfy
Stanley's skepticism about the loss of the estate, Blanche hands over her
papers pertaining to Belle Reve. But Stanley grabs at some of her private
papers that she is holding back, and they cascade to the floor. Weeping,
she gathers them all back, saying that they are poems from her dead
husband. He defends himself by saying that he was just looking out for
his family, and then announces that Stella is going to have a baby
.

Soon after her arrival, Stanley has a poker night with his friends where
Blanche meets Mitch. His courteous manner sets him apart from Stanley's
other friends. They like each other right away. This is the start of their Cast photo, L-R: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando,
Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden
romance. Stanley explodes in a drunken rage, striking Stella, and sending
his friends running, while Blanche and Stella flee to the upstairs neighbor,
Eunice. When his anger subsides, Stanley cries out remorsefully for Stella to come back. "Stella, Stella, hey Stella," he bellows, until
she comes down, and Stanley carries her off to bed. In the morning, Blanche tells Stella that she is married to a subhuman animal. In
an emotional monologue, she urges her sister to leave Stanley. Stella disagrees with her sister's bluntness and assures Blanche that all
is well, and that she does not want to leave.

As the weeks pass into months, the tension rises between Blanche and Stanley. But Blanche has hope in Mitch, telling Stella that she
wants to go away with him and not be anyone's problem. She is on the verge of mental collapse, anticipating a marriage proposal
from Mitch. Finally, he tells her that they need each other and should be together. But Stanley, still skeptical, begins to research her
past and discovers a closet full of skeletons. He tells Stella what Blanche has been concealing from them, that she has a reputation for
mental instability and that she was fired from her teaching job in Auriol for having sexual relations with a minor and practically run
out of town. He then says that Mitch will not be coming around anymore. Stanley has informed Mitch about Blanche's past, and the
news of her promiscuity has turned Mitch off from her. Stella erupts in anger that Stanley has ruined Blanche's chances with Mitch.
But the fight is cut short, as she tells Stanley to take her to the hospital; the baby is coming.

As Blanche waits at home for news of the baby, Mitch arrives and confronts her with the stories that Stanley has told him. At first,
she denies everything. Then, she breaks down in confession, describing, in a lengthy monologue, her troubled past. As she speaks to
Mitch, she gives up the Southern belle façade; her voice grows weary and deep; her face becomes drawn and old; she pleads for his
forgiveness, but Mitch is hurt and humiliated and rejects her. Blanche starts screaming, and Mitch runs away. Later that night, while
Stella's labor continues, Stanley returns from the hospital to get some sleep, only to find Blanche dressed up in a tattered old gown
pretending to be departing on a trip with an old admirer. She disdainfully antagonizes him, asserting her sense of superiority over
him, spinning tale after tale about her plans for the future. He sees that she is delusional, but he feels no pity for her. Instead, he seeks
to destroy her illusions. They become engaged in a struggle and the fact that Blanche is shown as having regressed into a psychotic
state gives the impression that Stanley has raped her
.

Weeks later, at another poker game at the Kowalski apartment, Stella and her neighbor, Eunice, are packing Blanche's belongings.
Stella and Eunice have told Blanche that she is going on a vacation, but, in truth, Blanche is being committed to a mental hospital.
She has suffered a complete mental breakdown. She has told Stella what happened, but Stella cannot believe Blanche's story. Stella,
under obvious stress, does not know what to do. An older gentleman and lady come to the door; it is the doctor and nurse come to
take Blanche away. Blanche does not recognize them and resists going; she collapses on the floor seized with total confusion. Mitch,
present at the poker game, breaks down in tears. The doctor approaches and helps Blanche up. He offers his arm gently to her, and
she goes willingly with him, saying, "Whoever you are, I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers." As the car drives
away with Blanche, Stella takes the baby upstairs to Eunice's, and says she is never coming back to Stanley again.

Cast
Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois
Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski
Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski
Karl Malden as Harold "Mitch" Mitchell
Peg Hillias as Eunice Hubbel
Rudy Bond as Steve Hubbel
Nick Dennis as Pablo Gonzales
Mickey Kuhn as The Helpful Sailor
Wright King as a Newspaper Collector
Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois
Edna Thomas as the Flower Lady
in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Richard Garrick as a Doctor
Ann Dere as a Matron / Nurse
John George as Passerby (uncredited)
As of September 2017, Wright King and Mickey Kuhn are the last surviving cast members.

Differences from the play


The play was set entirely at the Kowalski apartment. The movie was opened up to include places only briefly mentioned or non-
existent in the play, such as the train station, the streets of the French Quarter, the bowling alley, the pier of a dance casino, and the
machine factory.

Dialogue was abbreviated or cut in some scenes, when Blanche was trying to convince Stella to leave Stanley, for example, or when
Mitch confronted Blanche about her past.

The name of the town where Blanche was from was changed from Laurel, Mississippi, which is a real place, to Auriol, Mississippi, a
fictitious place.

The play's themes were controversial, causing the screenplay to be modified to comply with the Hollywood Production Code. In the
original play, Blanche's husband had committed suicide after he was discovered having a homosexual affair. This reference was
removed from the film; Blanche says instead that she showed scorn at her husband's sensitive nature, driving him to suicide.

At the end of the play, Stella, distraught at Blanche's fate, mutely allows Stanley to console her. In the movie, this is changed to a
[5]
"Hollywood ending" in which Stella blames Stanley for Blanche's fate, and resolves to leave him.

Other scenes were shot but cut after filming was complete to conform to the Production Code and later, to avoid condemnation by the
National Legion of Decency.

In 1993, after Warner Brothers discovered the censored footage during a routine inventory of archives,[6] several minutes of the
[7]
censored scenes were restored in an 'original director's version' video re-release.

Close tight photography altered the dramatic qualities of the play, for example in the lengthy scenes of escalating conflict between
Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh, or when Karl Malden shines the light on Leigh to see how old she is, or when the camera hovers
over Leigh, collapsed on the floor, with her head at the bottom of the screen, as though she were tu
rned upside down.
In the movie, Blanche actually rode the streetcar, only mentioned in the play. By the time the film was in production however, the
Desire streetcar line had been converted into a bus service, and the production team had to gain permission from the authorities to
hire out a streetcar with the "Desire" name on it.[8]

The music score, by Alex North, was written in short sets of music that reflected the psychological dynamics of the characters. For
his work on the film, North was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music Score, one of two nominations in that category
that year.

Reception
Upon release, the film drew very high praise. The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther stated that "inner torments are seldom
projected with such sensitivity and clarity on the screen" and commending both Vivien Leigh's and Marlon Brando's performances.
Film critic Roger Ebert has also expressed praise for the film, calling it a "great ensemble of the movies." The film currently has a
98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 50 reviews.[9]

A Streetcar Named Desire won four awards at the 24th Academy Awards.[10] The film set an Oscar record when it became the first
film to win in three acting categories (a feat only since matched by Network). The awards it won were for Actress in a Leading Role
[11]
(Leigh), Actor in a Supporting Role (Malden), Actress in a Supporting Role (Hunter), and Art Direction.

Award Result Notes


Charles K. Feldman, producer
Best Motion Picture Nominated
Winner was Arthur Freed (MGM) – An American in Paris

Elia Kazan
Best Director Nominated
Winner was George Stevens – A Place in the Sun

Marlon Brando
Best Actor Nominated
Winner was Humphrey Bogart – The African Queen

Best Actress Won Vivien Leigh


Tennessee Williams
Best Writing, Screenplay Nominated Winner was Harry Brown and Michael Wilson – A Place in the
Sun

Best Supporting Actor Won Karl Malden


Best Supporting Actress Won Kim Hunter
Best Art Direction–Set Decoration, Black-and-
Won Richard Day and George Hopkins
White
Harry Stradling
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White Nominated
Winner was William C. Mellor – A Place in the Sun

Lucinda Ballard
Best Costume Design, Black-and-White Nominated
Winner was Edith Head – A Place in the Sun

Best Music, Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Alex North


Nominated
Picture Winner was Franz Waxman – A Place in the Sun

Nathan Levinson
Best Sound Recording Nominated
Winner was Douglas Shearer – The Great Caruso

American Film Instituterecognition

1998 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies No. 45


2002 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions No. 67
2005 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes:

"Stella! Hey, Stella!" No. 45


"I've always depended on the kindness of strangers," No. 75
2005 AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores No. 19
2007 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) No. 47

In popular culture
Ten Years After's song "Hard Monkeys" references the movie: "Got no street car called Desire, and I'll never light the
fire."
In Modern Family episode "Door to Door", Gloria loses Jay's dog Stella. Gloria in a panic asks Cam for help. While
searching for the dog, Cam realizes that he is to play the role he was meant to play , screaming Stella just as Stanley
did in A Streetcar Named Desire.
In The Simpsons episode "Secrets of a Successful Marriage", Waylon Smithers has a flashback to his love, withMr.
Burns below his balcony yelling "SMITHERS!" the way Stanley called for Stella. In the episodeA"Streetcar Named
Marge" is centered around a musical remake ofA Streetcar Named Desirein which Marge plays Blanche Dubois.
Marge's portrayal of Blanche is meant to mirror her relationship with her husband, Homer .
In The Princess and the Frog, when Naveen and Tiana had turned into frogs and accidentally disrupt a party, "Big
Daddy" La Bouff calls for a dog named Stella, in the same manner, to get the frogs.
In Over the Hedge, when Tiger the Persian cat is separated fromStella the skunk, who is disguised as a cat, he calls
for her as Stanley called for Stella.
In Wu-Tang Clan's song "Triumph", Method Man references the movie: "Transform into the Ghost Rider / A six-pack
and a streetcar named Desire."[12]
In the Rod Stewart / Larry John McNally song "The Motown Song", a line references Stanley Kowalski's remark
during one of his poker games in the movie: "'Cause you know what luck is / luck is believing you're lucky".
In Panic! at the Disco's song "Memories", they refer to the play: "And it was beautifully depressing, like a street car
named Desire. They were fighting for their love that had started growing tired."
New Orleans rapper Curren$y references the film in his song "Famous": "this morning staring down at the ocean,
inspired, scribbling fire on a streetcar named Desire."
In Seinfeld episode "The Pen", Elaine takes too many muscle relaxants and meets a woman named Stella at a
function. She screams "Stella" repeatedly during the function.
In Saves The Day's song entitled "Hot Times in Delaware", thetrack starts with an excerpt from the movie's script:
"Oh, how pretty the sky is. I oughta go there on a rocket that never comes down. Which way do we go now , Stella,
this way? Stella: No, honey this way."
In Lana Del Rey's song entitled "Carmen", Blanche's famous line is alluded to: "That's the little story of the girl you
know, relying on the kindness of strangers".
In Sleeper, a 1973 Woody Allen film, Miles Monroe (Woody Allen) attempts toregain his identity by acting out a
scene with Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton) from A Streetcar Named Desire, with Keaton playing the Stanley
Kowalski (Marlon Brando) role and Allen playing Blanche DuBois (V ivien Leigh).
In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Krelboynes act out scenes from the movie with puppet dolls.
In Lil Wayne's song "Let's Start a Fire", he raps "She's riding me like a street car named desire."
In the title song to Colin Hay's 2002 album Company of Strangers, a "Blanche DuBois" is invoked as is reliance upon
the kindness of strangers.

References
1. "A Streetcar Named Desire"(http://www.afi.com/members/catalog/DetailView.aspx?s=&Movie=53428). American
Film Institute. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
2. "A Streetcar Named Desire - Box Office Data, DVD and Blu-ray Sales, Movie News, Cast and Crew Information"(htt
p://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Streetcar-Named-Desire-A#tab=summary). The Numbers. Retrieved December 15,
2014.
3. Manvell, Roger. Theatre and Film: A Comparative Study of the Two Forms of Dramatic Art, and of the Problems of
Adaptation of Stage Plays into Films. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Presses Inc, 1979. 133
4. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
5. Williams, Tennessee, Memoirs, 1977
6. Warner Archive Podcast (June 3, 2014).(http://pdl.warnerbros.com/wbol/us/dd/podcasts/wac/W
AC_new_release_po
dcast_20140603.mp3)
7. Censored Films and Television at University of Virginia online (http://explore.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/show/censored/
walkthrough/film1)
8. "New Orleans Public Service, Inc. 832"(http://www.pa-trolley.org/Roster/832N.htm). Retrieved November 13, 2011.
9. A Streetcar Named Desire(https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1020333-streetcar_named_desire/)at Rotten
Tomatoes
10. "The 24th Academy Awards (1952) Nominees and Winners" (http://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/1952).
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20110706093825/http://www .o
scars.org/awards/academyawards/legacy/ceremony/24th-winners.html) from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved
2011-08-20.
11. "NY Times: A Streetcar Named Desire"(https://movies.nytimes.com/movie/47311/A-Streetcar-Named-
Desire/details). The New York Times. Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20090125175326/http://movies.nytimes.
com/movie/47311/A-Streetcar-Named-Desire/details)from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
12. "Wu-Tang Clan – Triumph Lyrics" (http://rapgenius.com/Wu-tang-clan-triumph-lyrics). Retrieved February 12, 2013.

External links
A Streetcar Named Desireat the American Film Institute Catalog
A Streetcar Named Desireon IMDb
A Streetcar Named Desireat the TCM Movie Database
A Streetcar Named Desireat AllMovie

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