A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

on September 19, 1951 by BOXOFFICE Staff
Classic Reviews This faithful picturization of Tennessee Williams' grim and depressing drama of Southern decadence will shock many regular picturegoers just as it will be widely praised and discussed by sophisticated patrons. Because of the realism of its squalid way of life, the earthy quality of chief characters and its frankness in dwelling on sex, it is strictly adult fare. The fame of the Broadway stage hit, which won the Pulitzer Prize and toured the key cities, and curiosity about Vivien Leigh's portrayal will attract feminine fans and insure strong grosses in the metropolitan centers. It's too talky and slow-moving for neighborhood or action houses. This is a sordid tale of unhappy humans and director Elia Kazan has spared the audience nothing by revealing the savage brutality of Marlon Brando's Polish husband and the neurotic behavior of Vivien Leigh's faded Southern Belle. Kim Hunter is outstanding as the pregnant wife.

Vivien Leigh, a faded, neurotic schoolteacher, takes a streetcar named desire in New Orleans and arrives at the shabby home of her sister, Kim Hunter, and the latter's coarse, earthy husband, Marlon Brando. Brando resents Vivien's fastidious behavior and her trunkful of finery while she is repelled by his bad manners and rowdy friends. But when she is attracted by Karl Malden, a shy factory-worker, Brando makes inquiries and learns about Vivien's unsavory past. He tells Malden and ruins Vivien's one chance to marry. While his wife is having a baby, Brando comes home drunk and tries to attack his sister-in-law. Vivien's mind is gone and she is taken away to an institution.

Vivien Leigh again portrays a southern belle in Tennessee Williams' vivid play of colorful New Orleans... Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Award for the best play... A heart-tugging story of frustrated, earthy humans... Elia Kazan re-creates his magnificent stage success based on Tennessee Williams' outstanding play. Warner Bros. 125 min.

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