Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monthly Classics #1

Release Date : September 18th, 1951
Director : Elia Kazan
Starring : Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden

Recently divorced Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans. Already a troubled soul to begin with, her reality further deteriorates due to her brother-in-law's frequent aggravations.

When I found out that I have a thing for the classic movies years ago, I credit this movie for getting the ball rolling. A common trait of movies in the 50's are the engaging dialogues, ambiguous characters and its full reliance on good actors to carry the movies; no CGI, no special effects, no nothing. While that might prove to be a turn-off for today's audience, since movie-watching habits had change since then. Therefore I would say that just like the rest, A Streetcar Named Desire might be a bit of an acquired taste.

Marlon Brando gave a very memorable performance as Stanley Kowalski, which is only one of the two main appeal of this movie. Make no mistake though, this is not really a comfortable film to watch. Stanley can be very fierce and brutish, yet there is a soft side to him, seen only in glimpses. Marlon Brando captured that persona so well that you end up not being able to decide whether to forgive him, or look away in disgust.

Regardless of what people might say, I maintain to this day that Vivien Leigh put up a stronger performance as Blanche DuBois. Strangely, she also evoked the same kind of duality that Stanley did. Despite the amiable nature of the character, her inability (or perhaps unwillingness) to embrace her reality as it is forces us to either feel sorry for her, or give up on her. Kind of like a drug-addict friend that you would like to help, yet he or she keeps on relapsing and there's only so much that you can take.

I guess what I'm trying to sell to you here is that, if you ever would like to give classic movies a chance, A Streetcar Named Desire might not be a bad place to start. If it's not to your liking, well, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of other gems in the old days that I'll be reviewing from time to time.

Stay tuned for next month's classics segment when I'll be reviewing yet another Marlon Brando movie, the infamous biker flick The Wild One [1953].

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