A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Blanche DuBois: You’re married to a madman.

Stella: I wish you’d stop taking it for granted that I’m in something I want to get out of.

Blanche DuBois: What you are talking about is desire – just brutal Desire. The name of that rattle-trap streetcar that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another.

Stella: Haven’t you ever ridden on that streetcar?

Blanche DuBois: It brought me here. Where I’m not wanted and where I’m ashamed to be.

Stella: Don’t you think your superior attitude is a little out of place?

Blanche DuBois: May I speak plainly?… If you’ll forgive me, he’s common… He’s like an animal. He has an animal’s habits. There’s even something subhuman about him. Thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he is. Stanley Kowalski, survivor of the Stone Age, bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle. And you – you here waiting for him. Maybe he’ll strike you or maybe grunt and kiss you, that’s if kisses have been discovered yet. His poker night you call it. This party of apes.

A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1947 play written by American playwright Tennessee Williams that received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948. The play opened on Broadway on December 3, 1947, and closed on December 17, 1949, in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The Broadway production was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Jessica Tandy, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, and Kim Hunter. The London production opened in 1949 with Bonar Colleano, Vivien Leigh, and Renee Asherson and was directed by Laurence Olivier. The drama A Streetcar Named Desire is often regarded as among the finest plays of the 20th century, and is considered by many to be one of Williams’ greatest.

Rating 8.0 in IMDB

Watch the Trailer (just click)

Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

PLOT:

After the loss of her family home Belle Reve to creditors, Blanche DuBois travels from the small town of Laurel, Mississippi, to the New Orleans French Quarter to live with her younger, married sister, Stella, and brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski. Blanche is in her thirties, and with no money, she has nowhere else to go.

Blanche tells Stella that she has taken a leave of absence from her English teaching position because of her nerves (which is later revealed to be a lie). Blanche laments the shabbiness of her sister’s two-room flat. She finds Stanley loud and rough, eventually referring to him as “common”. Stanley, in return, does not care for Blanche’s manners and dislikes her presence.

Stanley later questions Blanche about her earlier marriage. Blanche had married when she was very young, but her husband died, leaving her widowed and alone. The memory of her dead husband causes Blanche some obvious distress. Stanley, worried that he has been cheated out of an inheritance, demands to know what happened to Belle Reve, once a large plantation and the DuBois family home. Blanche hands over all the documents pertaining to Belle Reve. While looking at the papers, Stanley notices a bundle of letters that Blanche emotionally proclaims are personal love letters from her dead husband. For a moment, Stanley seems caught off guard over her proclaimed feelings. Afterwards, he informs Blanche that Stella is going to have a baby.

The night after Blanche’s arrival, during one of Stanley’s poker parties, Blanche meets Mitch, one of Stanley’s poker player buddies. His courteous manner sets him apart from the other men. Their chat becomes flirtatious and friendly, and Blanche easily charms him; they like each other. Suddenly becoming upset over multiple interruptions, Stanley explodes in a drunken rage and strikes Stella. Blanche and Stella take refuge with the upstairs neighbour, Eunice. When Stanley recovers, he cries out from the courtyard below for Stella to come back by repeatedly calling her name until she comes down and allows herself to be carried off to bed. After Stella returns to Stanley, Blanche and Mitch sit at the bottom of the steps in the courtyard, where Mitch apologizes for Stanley’s coarse behaviour.

Blanche is bewildered that Stella would go back with him after such violence. The next morning, Blanche rushes to Stella and describes Stanley as a subhuman animal, though Stella assures Blanche that she and Stanley are fine. Stanley overhears the conversation but keeps silent. When Stanley comes in, Stella hugs and kisses him, letting Blanche know that her low opinion of Stanley does not matter.

As the weeks pass, Blanche and Stanley continue to not get along. Blanche has hope in Mitch, and tells Stella that she wants to go away with him and not be anyone’s problem. During a meeting between the two, Blanche confesses to Mitch that once she was married to a young man, Allan Grey, whom she later discovered in a sexual encounter with an older man. Grey later committed suicide when Blanche told him she was disgusted with him. The story touches Mitch, who tells Blanche that they need each other. It seems certain that they will get married.

Later on, Stanley repeats gossip to Stella that he has gathered on Blanche, telling her that Blanche was fired from her teaching job for having sex with a student and that she lived at a hotel known for prostitution (the Flamingo). Stella erupts in anger over Stanley’s cruelty after he states that he has also told Mitch about the rumours, but the fight is cut short as she goes into labour and is sent to the hospital.

As Blanche waits at home alone, Mitch arrives and confronts Blanche with the stories that Stanley has told him. At first she denies everything, but eventually confesses that the stories are true. She pleads for forgiveness, but an angry and humiliated Mitch rejects her. He then advances toward her as though to rape her; in response, Blanche screams “fire”, and he runs away in fright.

When Stella has the baby, Stanley and Blanche are left alone in the apartment. In their final confrontation, it is strongly implied that Stanley rapes Blanche, imminently resulting in her psychotic crisis.

Weeks later, at another poker game at the Kowalski apartment, Stella and her neighbour, Eunice, are packing Blanche’s belongings. Blanche has suffered a complete mental breakdown and is to be committed to a mental hospital. Although Blanche has told Stella about Stanley’s assault, Stella cannot bring herself to believe her sister’s story. When a doctor and a matron arrive to take Blanche to the hospital, she initially resists them and collapses on the floor in confusion. Mitch, present at the poker game, breaks down in tears. When the doctor helps Blanche up, she goes willingly with him, saying: “Whoever you are, I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers.” The play ends with Stanley continuing to comfort Stella while the poker game continues uninterrupted, as Steve says: “This game is seven-card stud”.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s