Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Streetcar Named Desire review for the Sunday Times Culture Magazine

Marlon Brando spent so many of his last years bloated that it is easy to forget that he was once a young, fit man. As Stanley Kowalski, Brando is astoundingly good, even for Brando.

When fallen Southern belle Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) comes to find sanctuary with her sister Stella (Kim Hunter) she finds her in the arms of the ‘common’ Stanley. The ensuing struggle for Stella’s soul and Blanche’s sanity is playwright Tennessee Williams at his best.

Brando is full of raw, intense energy and oozes sexuality. Leigh’s more mannered performance works in spite of the method acting around her because Blanche is meant to be out of her element and increasingly delusional.

The extras literally repeat themselves with interviews in documentaries also showing up on the commentary track. An early screen test of Brando is fascinating, but the package’s truly special feature is 94-year old Karl Malden, who played the sweet natured Mitch. Malden is a delight, providing warm, telling anecdotes about Brando and director Elia Kazan.

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