Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I, are trading classic movies this summer. She gives me a suggestion and I give her one and then we will write a post with our impressions of the movie we watched.
This week I suggested Double Indemnity for Erin (because I kid you not, I was about to suggest Key Largo and she was already going to watch it. We think along the same lines sometimes and sometimes we are totally on the opposite side of things. It makes life interesting. *wink*) and she suggested Streetcar Named Desire from 1951.
I have watched a couple of scenes from Streetcar Named Desire (Stella! Stella!!) but had never watched the entire movie. Erin is a huge fan of the young Marlon Brando, which is why she suggested this one. It is, as she said and I agree, one of his best.
His character is not “the best” of course. In fact, Stanley Kowalski is a complete jerk and Brando pulls it off amazingly well. His acting is flawless which may be because he was also playing the character on Broadway when they decided to film the movie, which is based on a play by Tennessee Williams.
In fact, everyone in the film, from what I’ve read, with the exception of Vivian Leigh who plays Blanch Dubois, was from the original play. Leigh was added to add more star power to the movie.
Brando was so natural and real in this – it was like I was watching a reality TV show in some ways and that’s not a good thing.
Vivian Leigh was apparently good at playing flirtatious women because here she was yet again needing attention from men just like in Gone with the Wind, where she played Scarlet.
It was awful to watch everyone, especially Stanley and Blanche, manipulate those around them, mainly Stella who wasn’t an angel but was really caught in the middle most of the time. I don’t want to give away anything for someone who hasn’t seen the movie (though it is over 50 years old, others could be like me and have never watched it), but watching Blanche pretty much falls apart more and more as she can’t keep her façade up is heartbreaking to watch. She creepily reminds me of a family member by marriage. She’s told so many lies she doesn’t know what reality is anymore.
I read after I watched the movie that the message of the play and the movie was that Blanche and Stella were both victims of societal pressures placed on them by men’s idea of how women should be treated in postwar America. Huh. Okay, we can go with that but I also felt like the sisters didn’t have a very warm upbringing, maybe from abusive homes, so that made them look for love and security in all the wrong places — mainly with men. Stella seems to suffer from the same issues abused women suffer from, which is the fear to leave their abusive spouse for a few reasons, including the fact they think no one else will want them. In Stella’s case, she also fell for Stanley’s good looks and the dangerous edge to his personality.
Whatever the theme and whatever the issues of the women, the acting was superb and focusing on the acting helped take my mind off the sobering subject matter of the movie.
If you are among the few that have not seen the movie, I do recommend it, but be aware the subject matter is dark and you are constantly worrying about what bad is going to happen next. To distract yourself from the tough subjects, do what I did and focus on the acting instead.