Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter
Plot: It tells the story of a southern belle, Blanche Dubois, who, after encountering a series of personal losses, leaves her aristocratic background seeking refuge with her sister and brother-in-law in a dilapidated New Orleans tenement.
As the film progresses, the set of the Kowalski apartment actually gets smaller to heighten the suggestion of Blanche's increasing claustrophobia.
Vivien Leigh, who suffered from bipolar disorder in real life, later had difficulties in distinguishing her real life from that of Blanche DuBois.
The actual streetcar named Desire was restored in 1998 in New Orleans and is still in service today.
The movie's line, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," was voted as the #75 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
Nine members of the original Broadway cast (Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias, Richard Garrick, Ann Dere and Edna Thomas) repeated their roles in the film, a highly unusual decision at the time and even today, when original casts of plays are often completely replaced for the film versions. However, Vivien Leigh, who had played Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), was selected to play Blanche DuBois over Jessica Tandy to add "star power" to the picture (Marlon Brando had not yet achieved full stardom in films; he would be billed under Leigh in the film's credits).
The Production Code censors demanded 68 script changes from the Broadway staging, while the interference of the Catholic Legion of Decency led to even further cuts, most of them having to do with references to homosexuality and rape.
Fitted t-shirts could not be bought at the time, so Marlon Brando's apparel had to be washed several times and then the back stitched up, to appear tightly over the actor's chest.
During her birthday dinner, Blanche begins telling a joke which Stanley interrupts. In the play, she finishes the joke, which told of an old maid who had a parrot with a lot of profanity in its vocabulary. The joke goes, "The only way to silence the parrot was to cover its cage with a cloth so it would think it was night time and go to sleep. One morning, the pastor comes to visit the woman right after she uncovered his cage, so she had to immediately cover it again. The pastor came inside and heard the parrot say, 'G**damn, that was a short day!'"
Despite giving the definitive portrayal of Stanley Kowalski, Marlon Brando said he privately detested the character. However, it should be added that Brando was an eccentric character who loved misleading people and playing pranks.
The movie's line, "Stella! Hey, Stella!" was voted as the #45 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
Marlon Brando was paid a sizeable $75,000 for his work, partially because of the insider scoop that hailed Brando's acting style as the most revolutionary thing to hit Hollywood since the Talkies. Vivien Leigh received a $100,000 salary, making her the highest paid English screen actress of the day.
To prepare for the part of Stanley Kowalski, Marlon Brando began a daily workout routine at a local gym, where he exercised with weights to build up his chest and biceps. Prior to this role, the actor was not known for his muscle-bound physique and when Truman Capote first observed Brando's transformation, he said, "It was as if a stranger's head had been attached to the brawny body, as in certain counterfeit photographs."
That Marlon Brando was passed over for an Academy Award in the one performance that almost singlehandedly started the Method Acting movement and is considered one of the best performances ever on film is considered one of the great travesties in the history of Hollywood.
The script follows the Tennessee Williams play closely with several small changes. However, there are three notably large alterations of the original plot. The first is the exclusion of Blanche's late young husband's homosexuality, which is referred to explicitly in the play, but only obliquely referred to in the movie. In the play, Blanche caught him in bed with another man and she screamed at him, calling him weak, and he killed himself; she blames herself for not understanding his feelings and for his resulting suicide. In the movie, the fact that her husband committed suicide is masked with a line from Blanche that says that "she killed him herself" by leading him to suicide. The second large difference is the rape scene. It is not explicitly shown/described in the play, but it is more obviously alluded to than in the movie. Two of Stanley's key lines in the scene were omitted from the theatrical release: "Tiger, tiger, drop that bottle top," which has since been added back to the movie, and "We've had this date with each other since the beginning!", after which Stanley grabs Blanche and hauls her off to the bed. Both of these changes were made for censorship reasons, but they've changed the story in some basic ways and led to some confusion, especially about the rape scene, which is key to understanding Stanley's final breaking of Blanche. The last change from the play is the ending. In the play, Stella stays with Stanley at the end: "He kneels beside her and his fingers find the opening of her blouse." The reason she left him in the film was that the punishment of the rapist was demanded by the Hollywood moral code.
Of all the cuts suggested by the Production Code censors, the one that Elia Kazan and Tennessee Williams were most adamantly against was the rape of Blanche. Kazan threatened to walk off the production if the scene was to be deleted.
All four lead actor were nominated for an Academy Award. Kim Hunter and Karl Malden won in the supporting actress/actor category, while Vivien Leigh won the Best Actress award. Is only one of two films that has been awarded three acting Oscars, the other film being Network (1976).