It is known fact that during the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando gradually took over the play during its run, thereby altering various emphases. In the 1951 film Elia Kazan allowed him to continue. This was fine with every movie audience I sat with. They found Stanley a great clown and enjoyed his mistreatment of fragile Blanche. Retrospective clips on the Oscar shows invariably have Stanley screaming “Stella!” You would think he won their award instead of being the only player in the film who went Oscarless.
I am accustomed to living with these distortions and take comfort in the fact that the great Vivien Leigh’s subtle delicacy and radiant depth saves Williams’ orginal intentions. But it is shattering to find a critic as brilliant and knowing as Lisa Schwarzbaum in the current Entertainment Weekly (May 4) reviewing the new Broadway production of the play and writing only about Stanley, mentioning Blanche only to give the character’s name and to note who plays her. Brando still makes his mark — as does a shirtless torso even for the great LS.
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