Streetcar Named Desire, A: Special Edition (Dbl DVD)
A Streeetcar Named Desire: The Original Director's Version is the Elia Kazan/Tennessee Williams film moviegoers would have seen had not Legion of Decency censorship occurred at the last minute. It features three minutes of previously unseen footage underscoring, among other things, the sexual tension between Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), and Stella Kowalski's (Kim Hunter) passion for husband Stanley. Catch all of the classic - nominated for 12 Academy AwardsO including Best Picture and winner of 4* - that introduced a new era of filmmaking. Step aboard this Streetcar.
An exemplary selection of supporting material makes this second disc much more than a throw-in. Richard Schickel's lucid 90-minute profile, Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey
, gives a fine account of the Kazan career, including lesser-known but worthy films such as Wild River
and America, America
. (One wonders, however, why a documentary about the art of a director can't letterbox its widescreen clips.) Kazan's work, rather than his fascinating life, is the focus, and his cooperative testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s is given a brief, neutral treatment. Clips from those Kazan interviews figure in two shorter docs, a look at the origins of Streetcar
on Broadway (and the way Marlon Brando's performance threatened to tip the balance of the play) and a thorough half-hour history of the movie adaptation. A nine-minute profile of Brando is mostly an excuse for reminiscences from Karl Malden, but they are wonderful memories indeed. (Malden also contributes his sharp recollections and wise insights to a commentary track on the film, along with film writers Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young, all recorded separately.) A ten-minute look at composer Alex North's contribution is informative and smart. Outtakes here are really a collection of snippets, of interest to fanatics. A Brando screen test is surprisingly ordinary, although one can see hints of the tiger waiting to escape. --Robert Horton