Elia Kazan takes Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar named Desire from the stage to the screen with spectacular results. The original would feature some editing that has now been restored since it was controversial to 1950s ears but now seems quaint. Whatever the case it features powerful performances, especially Brando.Blanche DuBois (Vivian Leigh) is running away from reality by living in a genteel Southern past that has faded away. She runs to her sister Stella Kowalski’s (Kim Hunter) New Orleans’ apartment. This does not set well with Stella’s animalistic husband Stanley (Marlon Brando).
Blanche does catch the eye of Stanley’s friend Mitch (Karl Malden) but when Stanley discovers that Blanche’s reasons for coming to New Orleans hide some stinging truths, the pressure cooker brewing in the apartment head towards explosion.
When Blanche arrives on a streetcar named Desire she sets off a fuse that will explode in the squalid apartment of her sister and her high-intensity husband. That fuse was devised by the brilliant playwright Tennessee Williams and had already garnered many accolades on Broadway. It was not surprising when Hollywood came calling and most of the cast would make the transfer to the big screen including the lesser known Marlon Brando.
That would change with the film’s release. Not all of the content would make it though as some of the stuff would be considered too controversial for the production code and would be watered down, some of that material has been restored for this cut. The acting is top notch and it’s not hard to see why many stood up and took notice of the cast.
The film would win four Oscars and three of those would be for acting (Leigh – best actress, Malden – best supporting actor, and Hunter – best supporting actress). Brando would be nominated for best actor but lost to Humphrey Bogart in African Queen (tough call) but audiences would remember Brando’s fiery performance.
A Streetcar named Desire is presented in 1080p fullscreen (1.33:1).
Special features, presented in standard definition, include a commentary from actor Malden and historians Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young, the 75 minute “Elia Kazan: A Director’s Journey” about the legendary director, the 22 minute “Streetcar on Broadway” about the original Broadway show, the 28 minute “Streetcar in Hollywood” about the film version, the 16 minute “Censorship and Desire” about the changes to the film, the 9 minute “North and the Music of the South” about composer Alex North, the 9 minute “An Actor named Brando” about the legendary actor, the 5 minute Brando screen test, 15 minutes of outtakes, 17 minutes of audio outtakes, and 6 minutes of trailers. It’s all packaged in a very nice digibook package that has pages of information and photos.
A Streetcar named Desire features powerful performances that still resonate and this Blu-ray ports over the fantastic supplements but also features an excellent transfer. This package is highly recommended for fans of classic cinema.
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