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A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire(1952)

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teaser A Streetcar Named Desire (1952)

SYNOPSIS

Blanche DuBois is an aging schoolteacher who leaves her hometown under mysterious circumstances and stays with her pregnant sister Stella in New Orleans. Stanley Kowalski, Stella's brutish husband, resents Blanche's presence and accuses her of squandering the family inheritance. He soon sets about tearing down the fragile world of illusion with which Blanche attempts to surround herself.

Director: Elia Kazan
Producer: Charles K. Feldman
Screenplay: Tennessee Williams, Oscar Saul
Cinematography: Harry Stradling
Art Direction: Richard Day (Oscar winner)
Set Decoration: George James Hopkins
Music: Alex North
Cast: Vivien Leigh (Blanche DuBois), Marlon Brando (Stanley Kowalski), Kim Hunter (Stella), Karl Malden (Mitch), Rudy Bond (Steve Hubbell), Nick Dennis (Pablo Gonzales).
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Why A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE Is Essential

Although The Glass Menagerie (1950) was William's first commercial success, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) became his signature play, full of visceral emotion and unnerving tragic realism. It earned Williams' his first Pulitzer Prize and the first of four New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. In the stage version directed by Elia Kazan, Jessica Tandy played Blanche DuBois, Kim Hunter was Stella, and Marlon Brando became the talk of Broadway for his performance as the primal Stanley Kowalski. The major principals and the same director were also recruited for the movie version with the exception of Tandy. Her coveted stage role of Blanche went instead to Vivien Leigh, who had starred in a London production of the play directed by her husband, Laurence Olivier.

During the filming of A Streetcar Named Desire, Vivien Leigh clashed with Elia Kazan over her interpretation of Blanche and also had problems connecting with her fellow cast members who were trained in the "Stanislavsky Method." At the time, Leigh's relationship with her husband was also starting to unravel and her immersion into the role of Blanche only accented her current manic-depressive state. "In many ways she was Blanche," Brando said in his autobiography, Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me. "She was memorably beautiful, one of the great beauties of the screen, but she was also vulnerable, and her own life had been very much like that of Tennessee's wounded butterfly...Like Blanche, she slept with almost everybody and was beginning to dissolve mentally and to fray at the ends physically. I might have given her a tumble if it hadn't been for Larry Olivier."

While in production, Streetcar began to encounter resistance from the film industry's self-regulating Production Code office. References to the homosexuality of Blanche's deceased husband were removed and the harsh original ending was altered, with Stella rejecting her husband rather than remaining by his side. Still, the film encountered controversy during its release and Warner Brothers deleted an additional five minutes of material (it was later added back in a 1993 restoration) which included dialogue references to Blanche's past promiscuity and visual evidence of the lustful relationship between Stanley and Stella.

A Streetcar Named Desire also deserves another footnote in Hollywood history because of its revolutionary mode of production. While Hollywood filmmaking was still firmly entrenched in the studio system which used only studio-contracted actors and craftsmen, A Streetcar Named Desire turned out to be a harbinger of things to come. Independent agent-producer Charles Feldman purchased the property and brought it to Jack L. Warner, the head of Warner Bros. Studios. Independent director Elia Kazan was brought on board to direct, and playwright Tennessee Williams adapted his own work to the screen. Furthermore, none of the cast members were Warner contract players, and only a few crewmembers came from outside of Warner Bros. This film put one more crack in the studio system's ironclad hold on filmmaking in America, leading to even more power for independent producers and smaller filmmaking companies.

All the trouble was worth it in the end because A Streetcar Named Desire is now considered a landmark film in terms of the ensemble performances, Kazan's direction and the evocative art direction by Richard Day. The derelict New Orleans tenement is given a convincing presence through the accumulation of details such as crumbling stucco and bricks, peeling wallpaper, streaks of dirt on the walls and the dramatic courtyard staircase with wrought iron railings. In collaboration with Harry Stradling's evocative textures of light and shadow, the sets provide crucial atmospheric support for the actors' naturalistic performances. Academy Awards for the film included Best Actress (Leigh), Best Art Direction (Richard Day and George James Hopkins), Best Supporting Actor and Actress (Karl Malden and Kim Hunter); nominations included Best Actor (Brando), Best Director (Kazan), Best Original Screenplay (Williams) and Best Score (Alex North).

by Scott McGee & James Steffin

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teaser A Streetcar Named Desire (1952)

In an October 1992 episode of The Simpsons that spoofs A Streetcar Named Desire, Marge decides to try out for the Springfield Community Center's musical production of "Oh! Streetcar!" Marge plays Blanche, while next-door neighbor Ned Flanders is Stanley and Reverend Lovejoy's wife Helen is Stella. Homer is not in the cast, but he does get into the homage act: when the tab breaks off his pudding can, he stands outside in the yard and screams "Marge!" just as Marlon Brando shouted "Stella!" in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Tweety and Sylvester the Cat starred in a Warner Bros. animated short called A Street Cat Named Sylvester in September 1953, but all connections with A Streetcar Named Desire ended with the title.

There have been two different television movies based on the Tennessee Williams play. In 1984, Treat Williams and Ann-Margret starred as Stanley and Blanche, while Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid filled out the cast as Stella and Mitch, respectively. Then in 1995, Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange starred in another TV-movie adaptation of Williams' play as Stanley and Blanche. Diane Lane and John Goodman co-starred as Stella and Mitch.

by Scott McGee

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teaser A Streetcar Named Desire (1952)

A Streetcar Named Desire was only Marlon Brando's second movie. He first appeared in director Fred Zinnemann's The Men (1950) as a wounded ex-GI trying to readjust to civilian life in a wheelchair.

By the time Brando agreed to appear in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire he had become a major star. He was now able to demand twice his previous salary, billing on all screen, marquee, and advertising credits in lettering which was just as large as the title, and veto power over wardrobe fittings, makeup tests, and press interviews during the first week of production.

Brando's reputation as a difficult actor has been confirmed by several directors but Elia Kazan isn't among them. He was one of the few who commanded the actor's complete respect. In his autobiography, Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me, Marlon wrote, "I have worked with many movie directors - some good, some fair, some terrible. Kazan was the best actors' director by far of any I've worked for. Gadg, who got his nickname because of an affection for gadgets, was the only one who ever really stimulated me, got into a part with me and virtually acted it with me."

Although A Streetcar Named Desire made Marlon Brando a star, he admits he never liked playing Stanley Kowalski and his identification with the role has haunted him ever since.

Vivien Leigh, who suffered from bipolar disorder in real life, later had difficulties in distinguishing her actual life from that of Blanche DuBois.

Kim Hunter, who plays the role of Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, was blacklisted for several years after her name appeared in Red Channels, a rabid anti-communist publication.

Kim Hunter and Wright King, who plays the Young Collector, later appeared together in Planet of the Apes (1968).

Karl Malden co-starred with Marlon Brando in three movies. After A Streetcar Named Desire, they were both Oscar nominated for their performances in On the Waterfront (1954). They also played former friends turned arch enemies in One-Eyed Jacks (1961).

Vivien Leigh's two Academy Award-winning performances in Gone With the Wind (1939) and A Streetcar Named Desire have much in common. First, Leigh plays an emotionally conflicted Southern belle in both films. Secondly, both were adapted from works by Southern authors, Margaret Mitchell and Tennessee Williams, respectively. And lastly, both films involved the creative hand of a Selznick: David O. Selznick produced Gone With the Wind and Irene Mayer Selznick, MGM chief Louis B. Mayer's daughter and David Selznick's wife, produced the New York production of A Streetcar Named Desire. By the time A Streetcar Named Desire hit movie screens, Irene and David were divorced.

In his autobiography, Marlon Brando confirmed his preference for the film over the original stage production of the Tennessee Williams play due to the casting. He thought A Streetcar Named Desire reached a pinnacle of "perfect casting" when Vivien Leigh took on the role of Blanche DuBois.

While Vivien Leigh was in Hollywood shooting A Streetcar Named Desire, her husband, Sir Laurence Olivier, was in town as well, shooting Carrie (1952) for director William Wyler.

A Streetcar Named Desire marked the first of Marlon Brando's four consecutive Academy Award nominations for Best Actor. His subsequent films included Viva Zapata! (1952), Julius Caesar (1953), and On the Waterfront (1954), for which he finally won the coveted Oscar. Brando won again over 20 years later with his monumental work in The Godfather (1972).

The wonderful film score was composed by Alex North, a relative newcomer at the time, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on A Streetcar Named Desire. Throughout his career, North was nominated for 15 Academy Awards but did not win one until 1985, when he was awarded an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar "in recognition of his brilliant artistry in the creation of memorable music for a host of distinguished motion pictures." North died in 1991.

On Broadway, Brando's understudy for the part of Stanley Kowalski was Ralph Meeker, who would later follow Brando to Hollywood where he would give acclaimed performances in such films as Teresa (1951), Kiss Me Deadly (1955), and Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957). Unfortunately, Meeker never reached the level of success that Brando achieved in motion pictures and his biggest acting triumph remains his stage performance in William Inge's Picnic in 1953.

Prior to the Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Margaret Sullavan and John Garfield had been approached for the lead roles of Blanche and Stanley, respectively. However, Tennessee Williams vetoed Sullavan after she read for him and Garfield was dropped after he insisted on several contract demands, such as having Williams rewrite the play to make Stanley the major character.

The original title of A Streetcar Named Desire had been The Poker Night but Tennessee Williams decided to change it after he completed the play in 1946.

by Scott McGee

Memorable Quotes from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

Blanche: Please don't get up.
Stanley: Nobody's going to get up, so don't be worried.

Stanley: Hey STELLA!

Blanche: Deliberate cruelty is unforgivable, and the one thing I've never been guilty of.

Blanche: Oh look, we have created enchantment!

Blanche: I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.
Mitch: I guess we strike you as being a pretty rough bunch.
Blanche: I'm very adaptable to circumstances.

Blanche: Tarantula was the name of it! I stayed at a hotel called the Tarantula Arms!
Mitch: Tarantula Arms?
Blanche: Yes, a big spider! That's where I brought my victims. Yes, I've had many meetings with strangers.

Stanley: I never met a woman that didn't know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and some of them give themselves credit for more than they've got.

Blanche: Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Blanche: I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman's charm is 50% illusion.

Blanche: I don't want realism. I want magic!

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teaser A Streetcar Named Desire (1952)

Born in Columbus, Mississippi, on March 26, 1911, Thomas Lanier Williams was known for most of his life as 'Tom' but earned the nickname of Tennessee in college. The nickname stuck after a college roommate made a humorous reference to Williams' heritage as a Tennessee pioneer.

Much has been written about Williams' turbulent adolescence, his troubled parents' marriage, and his invalid sister Rose, and it no doubt had a great influence on his art. His father, Cornelius, had frequent bouts with alcoholism and gambling. His mother, Edwina (allegedly the model for Amanda in The Glass Menagerie), was a controlling figure who allowed the family doctor to perform a frontal lobotomy on her emotionally disturbed daughter, Rose. (This disturbing event would later form the basis for Suddenly, Last Summer.)

Williams later developed an interest in drama at the University of Missouri but his college education was cut short when his father, in dire financial straits, forced him to drop out and go to work at the International Shoe Company. It was there that Williams became good friends with a co-worker named Stanley Kowalski, whose name would later figure prominently in the play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

Eventually, Williams obtained his college degree (from the University of Iowa) and after a brief stint in Chicago, moved to New Orleans where he began his career as a playwright. Arthur Rimbaud, Hart Crane, Frederico Garcia Lorca, and D.H. Lawrence were some of the writers who had a profound effect on Williams' work and in 1945, he scored his first commercial success with The Glass Menagerie.

After The Glass Menagerie, Williams began writing his next work based on an image he had of a woman sitting alone in a chair by a window, bathed in moonlight. She had been jilted on the eve of her wedding. This image became the inspiration for Blanche DuBois, the central character of his new play, A Streetcar Named Desire which he finished in 1947. Williams not only used New Orleans as the setting for the drama but he also took the title from the famous 'Crescent City' street railway Desire. The Desire line was started by the New Orleans Railway and Light Co. in 1920 and the original route ran down such streets as Bourbon, Esplanade, and Elysian Fields which is the location of the Kowalski's apartment.

by Jeff Stafford

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teaser A Streetcar Named Desire (1952)

For the Broadway production, several Hollywood stars were considered for the role of Stanley Kowalski, including John Garfield, Burt Lancaster, Van Heflin, Edmond O'Brien, John Lund, and Gregory Peck. Marlon Brando, still a relative newcomer to the stage, was originally rejected for the role because he was considered too young and too handsome. It was only because of Brando's agent, Edie Van Cleve, that Brando got a chance to read for the play's author, Tennessee Williams, who came away from the audition with the assurance that Brando was perfect for the part.

Elia Kazan directed the play A Streetcar Named Desire in New York, and when Hollywood knocked, he and most of the Broadway cast went with him, including Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter (who was almost replaced by Anne Baxter), Karl Malden, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias, and Edna Thomas. Jessica Tandy, who had been an absolute smash as Blanche DuBois on Broadway, was replaced with Vivien Leigh. (Olivia de Havilland was offered the role first, but she ended up turning it down.) Studio executives did not think Tandy was a household name outside of the New York stage, so her role went to Leigh, who was famous for having played another colorful Southern belle in Gone With the Wind (1939). Leigh, in fact, was starring in a London presentation of A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by her husband, Laurence Olivier, when she got the call from Hollywood to appear in the film version.

Tennessee Williams was brought in to write the screenplay for A Streetcar Named Desire in collaboration with Oscar Saul. Because of the Production Code that was still very much in effect, concessions and compromises had to be made in terms of the play's sexual content. References to the homosexuality of Blanche's dead hubby were deleted, and the film ends with Stella deciding to leave Stanley after he rapes her sister, unlike the play in which it's obvious that Stella will stand by her man. Other cuts took out dialogue that suggested Blanche was promiscuous and possibly even a nymphomaniac who was attracted to young boys. The censors also cut out much of the violent intensity of Stanley's assault on Blanche. A scene between Stella and Blanche lost crucial dialogue. Stella tells her sister, "Stanley's always smashed things. Why, on our wedding night, as soon as we came in here, he snatched off one of my slippers and rushed about the place smashing the light bulbs with it." After Blanche is suitably shocked, Stella leans back with a strange grin and says, "I was sort of thrilled by it." This deleted line and other cuts were replaced in a 1993 restoration of A Streetcar Named Desire.

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. And in an August 1950 missive to Joseph Breen, the director of the Production Code office, Williams wrote, "The rape of Blanche by Stanley is a pivotal, integral truth in the play, without which the play loses its meaning, which is the ravishment of the tender, the sensitive, the delicate, by the savage and brutal forces of modern society. It is a poetic plea for comprehension..."

If the suggested cuts were not made, the Catholic Legion of Decency threatened to sink the box office prospects for A Streetcar Named Desire with a Condemned rating. Elia Kazan made a last ditch effort to get his un-cut version of A Streetcar Named Desire seen by the public. He asked Warner Bros. to try releasing the film in both his director's version and the edited version, with each clearly marked so audience members could choose for themselves. Warners said no. Kazan then campaigned for his director's cut to be screened at the Venice Film Festival. Again, Warners refused, since the Legion mandated that only their approved version could be released, and the studio didn't want to risk earning a Condemned rating which would hurt the film at the box office. As a result, Kazan's version would not be seen until Warners restored the film in 1993.

Director Elia Kazan worked closely with the production designer to create the authentically sordid look of A Streetcar Named Desire. They had the walls of Stanley and Stella's home built in small sections that could be removed, so that as Blanche feels more constricted and threatened inside the Kowalski home, the walls could literally move in and create a claustrophobic tension within the space.

There were clashes on the set between Vivien Leigh and her fellow cast members. Besides being the only major cast member not to have come from the Broadway production, Leigh was a classically trained actress, whereas most of the other actors studied under the "Stanislavsky Method," also known as Method acting. But Leigh was determined to make a good picture and create a great performance. She reportedly could not wait to get to the set every day, and was often the last lead actor to leave at day's end. There was some bad blood between Leigh and Marlon Brando at the beginning of the shoot, but these conflicts had nothing to do with acting style. Brando was simply annoyed at Leigh's typically British manners and stuffiness. The two acting giants eventually became friends as the shoot progressed. Brando's dead-on perfect imitations of Laurence Olivier's Henry V did much to break the ice between him and Leigh.

For the London stage production, Vivien Leigh bleached her famous brunette locks. But she wore bleached wigs throughout the production of A Streetcar Named Desire, since Blanche DuBois was supposed to have ragged-looking hair and look like someone who had led a rough life. Since she did not trust the American hairdressers, Leigh air-mailed her wigs back to London to be cleaned and redressed by wig-maker and theatrical entrepreneur Stanley Hall.

To prepare for the part of Stanley Kowalski, 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."

Brando was paid a sizable $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.

At a test screening for A Streetcar Named Desire, Elia Kazan and producer Charlie Feldman received a shock: the audience laughed at Blanche DuBois. Ever observant of his actors, Kazan discovered that the audience was laughing specifically at the scene when the Young Collector, played by Wright King, reacts to Blanche's bold and yearning way in which she reaches for him from her door. Kazan eliminated King's reaction shots, which did the trick of quelling the unintended laughter.

by Scott McGee

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teaser A Streetcar Named Desire (1952)

Blanche DuBois is an aging schoolteacher who leaves her hometown under mysterious circumstances and stays with her pregnant sister Stella in New Orleans. Stanley Kowalski, Stella's brutish husband, resents Blanche's presence and accuses her of squandering the family inheritance. He sets about tearing down the fragile world of illusion with which Blanche attempts to surround herself.

Although The Glass Menagerie (1950) was William's first commercial success, A Streetcar Named Desire became his signature play, full of visceral emotion and unnerving tragic realism. It earned Williams' his first Pulitzer Prize and the first of four New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. In the stage version directed by Elia Kazan, Jessica Tandy played Blanche DuBois, Kim Hunter was Stella, and Marlon Brando became the talk of Broadway for his performance as the primal Stanley Kowalski. The major principals and the same director were also recruited for the movie version with the exception of Tandy. Her coveted stage role of Blanche went instead to Vivien Leigh, who had starred in a London production of the play directed by her husband, Laurence Olivier.

Needless to say, the filming of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) was more problematic than the stage production. Vivien Leigh clashed with Elia Kazan over her interpretation of Blanche and also had problems connecting with her fellow cast members who were trained in the "Stanislavsky Method." At the time, Leigh's relationship with her husband was also starting to unravel and her immersion into the role of Blanche only accented her current manic-depressive state. "In many ways she was Blanche," Brando said in his autobiography, Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me."She was memorably beautiful, one of the great beauties of the screen, but she was also vulnerable, and her own life had been very much like that of Tennessee's wounded butterfly...Like Blanche, she slept with almost everybody and was beginning to dissolve mentally and to fray at the ends physically. I might have given her a tumble if it hadn't been for Larry Olivier."

While in production, Streetcar began to encounter resistance from the film industry's self-regulating production code office. References to the homosexuality of Blanche's deceased husband were removed and the harsh original ending was altered, with Stella rejecting her husband rather than remaining by his side. Still, the film encountered controversy during its release and Warner Brothers deleted an additional five minutes of material (it was later added back in a 1993 restoration) which included dialogue references to Blanche's past promiscuity and visual evidence of the lustful relationship between Stanley and Stella.

All the trouble was worth it in the end because A Streetcar Named Desire is now considered a landmark film in terms of the ensemble performances, Kazan's direction and the evocative art direction by Richard Day. The derelict New Orleans tenement is given a convincing presence through the accumulation of details such as crumbling stucco and bricks, peeling wallpaper, streaks of dirt on the walls and the dramatic courtyard staircase with wrought iron railings. In collaboration with Harry Stradling's evocative textures of light and shadow, the sets provide crucial atmospheric support for the actors' naturalistic performances. Academy Awards for the film included Best Actress (Leigh), Best Art Direction (Richard Day and George James Hopkins), Best Supporting Actor and Actress; the other Oscar® nominations included Best Actor (Brando), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Score.

Director: Elia Kazan
Producer: Charles K. Feldman
Screenplay: Tennessee Williams, Oscar Saul
Cinematography: Harry Stradling
Art Direction: Richard Day (Oscar winner)
Set Decoration: George James Hopkins (Oscar winner)
Music: Alex North
Principal Cast: Vivian Leigh (Blanche DuBois), Marlon Brando (Stanley Kowalski), Kim Hunter (Stella), Karl Malden (Mitch), Rudy Bond (Steve Hubbell), Nick Dennis (Pablo Gonzales).
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by James Steffen & Jeff Stafford

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teaser A Streetcar Named Desire (1952)

A Streetcar Named Desire grossed more than $4 million at the box office which was a considerable chunk of change in 1951. It was also a popular favorite among the major film critics.

Some critics referred to Marlon Brando's style of acting and carnal attractiveness as "the torn T-shirt school of acting." Brando's fashion statement, of wearing only T-shirts around the house, caused a national surge in undershirt sales.

The Hollywood Reporter thought that both A Streetcar Named Desire and another contemporary film, A Place in the Sun (1951), "would land on their nose when they got out in general release...because of the downbeat type of stories and because those stories were made so realistic." Nevertheless, The New York Film Critics Association awarded A Streetcar Named Desire as the Best Picture of the year.

While not a critical organization, the Catholic Legion of Decency certainly had much to say about A Streetcar Named Desire: the Legion condemned it, since "the entire tone of the picture is 'desire,'" with "no mitigating circumstances whatsoever." In their not-so humble opinion, the film was beyond redeeming, that is, unless substantial cuts were made to the film before its national release. After much debate over artistic license and moral turpitude, memo blasting, and cinematic compromising, three to four minutes of footage was excised from the final screen time. The film was released to the public with the Legion's seal of approval. Although the film still shocked many patrons, it did very well at the box office. But its biggest accomplishment was opening the doors further for the Production Code Administration's acceptance of more racy and sensational fare.

A Streetcar Named Desire earned a slew of Academy Award nominations. Vivien Leigh won her second Best Actress Oscar for her work, while Kim Hunter and Karl Malden each picked up respective Oscars for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. This was the first time a motion picture won three awards for acting. Richard Day won the Oscar for Art Direction, and George James Hopkins took home the little golden guy for Set Decoration. Marlon Brando was nominated for Best Actor, but lost to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen (1951). A Streetcar Named Desire was, of course, nominated for Best Picture, but it lost to An American in Paris (1951). The film also earned nominations for Best Director, Best Score, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Recording, and Best Costume Design. After the film became a big hit at the Oscars, Jack Warner scurried to get A Streetcar Named Desire in more theaters, especially in the Los Angeles area, where it was scheduled to leave theaters a week after the awards to make way for Abbott and Costello in Jack and the Beanstalk (1952).

Humphrey Bogart received a pleasant surprise on March 20, 1952, at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award, Bogart did not expect to win, even though his performance in The African Queen was some of his best work. Bogie and the rest of Hollywood simply expected the sensational Marlon Brando to win for A Streetcar Named Desire. Brando lost, and Bogie won his first and only Oscar. The folks over at MGM were caught by surprise as well, since their entry, An American in Paris, was expected to lose the Best Picture award to either A Streetcar Named Desire or A Place in the Sun. But the lavish musical extravaganza walked off with Oscar that night, becoming the third musical in Oscar history to win Best Picture. MGM ran a congratulatory ad in the trade papers that had Leo the Lion, MGM's logo mascot, looking slightly embarrassed and off-guard, saying, "Honestly, I was just standing 'in the Sun' waiting for 'A Streetcar.'"

Influential film critic Pauline Kael raved about Vivien Leigh's "rare" performance, one "that can truly be said to evoke pity and terror." Praising both Leigh and Marlon Brando as giving "two of the greatest performances ever put on film," she was equally praiseworthy toward Tennessee Williams' screenplay, which she wrote had "some of the finest dialogue ever written by an American..."

Film reviewer Roger Ebert has said that one could make the case that "no performance had more influence on modern film acting styles than Brando's work as Stanley Kowalski, Tennessee Williams' rough, smelly, sexually charged hero."

by Scott McGee

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