A Streetcar Named Desire

“Stella! Hey, Stella!” “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

From A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951

At least three films have been made from Tennessee Williams’ play. “A Streetcar Named Desire”. But this must-see movie stars members of the original Broadway cast: Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden and, from a London production, Vivien Leigh. It was nominated for over 15 Academy Awards and won Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director among others.

The story shows Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) arriving to live with her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), and her husband, Stanley (Marlon Brandon). Blanche is pretentious about her virtue and culture even though it comes out that she was fired from her teaching job because of an affair with a 17-year-old student.

Blanche’s sister welcomes her but is anxious about Stanley. He is verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive to Stella so she worries about how he’ll react to Blanche’s affected ways. Blanche makes things worse by criticizing how her sister lives and Stanley’s friends, which he overhears over the roar of wood chippers.

After a particularly mean episode, pregnant Stella goes to a neighbor’s place. Stanley stands on the street outside and screams up to her, dragging the name out, “Stella! Hey, Stella!” She can not resist his raw sexuality so she comes down to him.

His distaste for Blanche finally escalates from insults to rape. Because of the rape trauma and the fact that no one believes her accusations, Blanche finally has a nervous breakdown. As she is lead away to a mental institution by a kindly doctor, she speaks the memorable line, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

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