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Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire
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Which brings us to Jessica Lange, whose portrayal of Blanche is both delicately shaded and strongly characterized; she is heart-breaking and luminous. Comparing her to Vivian Leigh, it is impossible to rank one over the other, as both performances seem "definitive" (now if we only had the performances of Jessica Tandy, Uta Hagen, and Tallulah Bankead preserved). The production design for once truly emphasizes the squalor in which Stella and Stanley live and which so shocks Blanche upon her arrival. Worth purchasing, especially for devotees of Williams.
The plot concerns Blanche DuBois, who arrives in New Orleans seeking refuge from her troubled past in her sister Stella's small apartment. Blanche hadn't counted on her brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski, being so brutish and intensely sexual, however. She hopes to find a measure of happiness and peace with Stanley's friend Harold Mitchell (Mitch). A lesser playwright than Williams may well have given Blanche, and the audience, a happy ending with Mitch. But neither Williams nor his characters are that easy or simplistic. His characters are not all good or all bad. They exist in a morally gray area; with Williams exposing the cruel and harsh realities of life. When the truth of Blanche's sordid past is crudely and relentlessly exposed by Stanley, Mitch cruelly rejects her. Blanche loses her tenuous grip on reality. There is a final violent confrontation between Blanche and Stanley; which in turns leads to one of the most soul-shattering conclusions in theatre history.
The cast of this 1995 TV production, based on a successful Broadway revival starring Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin, does not have to contend with the censorship issues that plagued the otherwise outstanding 1951 film version. So here we have the full text and content of Williams' original play. This means we get the sad story of the suicide of Blanche's gay husband, and we see how it has haunted her for years. We also get the full, long scene between Blanche and Stella following the violent poker game.Read more ›
Blanche Dubois arrives in post-WWII New Orleans from Mississippi to visit her younger sister Stella, who's married to Stanley Kowalsky. Both women were the products of a genteel, Southern upbringing, and Blanche is appalled by Stanley's brutishness and the sweltering, seedy, French Quarter apartment in which her sister happily lives. Early in life, Blanche was psychologically devastated her young husband's death. He'd committed suicide after Blanche had discovered his homosexuality and confronted him. Stella having departed the family estate, Belle Reve, for the Big City, the widowed Blanche was left to deal with the deaths of parents and the eventual loss of Belle Reve to creditors. Now, at the edge of sanity, Blanche perceives herself as a classic Southern lady fallen on hard times. But she has another side which Stanley, a male "pig" if there ever was one, immediately perceives. It's their tense interaction over several months that provides the story's conflict and seals Blanche's fate.
How do the players compare?
Alec Baldwin's 1995 Stanley is more than adequate. OK, he doesn't have the animal presence of Marlon Brando's original, but at least the former doesn't talk as if through a mouthful of cotton.Read more ›
Okay, for this version....John Goodman's Mitch brings a sweetness and a pain to the screen that is almost physically uncomfortable to watch, it is so naked and vulnerable.
Let's face it....no one is ever going to make Stanley their own....it's been done. It's owned. I find that Alec Baldwin has grown in the years he's been working, into a wonderfully adept comedian, as well as honoring his dramatic abilities. His anger and frustration was, for me, too cerebral....Stanley IS a primal man. It's hard for an intelligent actor to make us believe that he isn't smart. It really showed me the difference between acting and being, looking at Brando.
However, it cases like this, where Stanley doesn't overwhelm the screen (or stage) it allows Blanche to take her rightful place in the spotlight, stage center. And that's why when this version was first aired I thought that we'd found a new Blanche for the ages. And in many ways, we have. My only question, complaint, disappointment came with Ms. Lange's adoption of every note, every nuance, every breath of Vivien Leigh's vocal performance. I thought it was my imagination, since that's the performance I've seen and heard so many times. But now, watching it again, I had the same experience.
Stella is definitely worth Stanley's attention, and Blanche's devotion, and her physical inability to believe her husband's cruelty reminded me of another piece of acting that Ms. Lane accomplished in UNFAITHFUL....the ability she has of showing the audience what is going on in her mind and in her gut....Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
OF THREE REMAKES, THIS ONE IS TRULY THE BEST. JESSICA LANGE AND ALEC BALDWIN SIMMER AND SMOLDER ON THE SCREEN. MS. LANGE'S BLANCHE IS VULNERABLE. YOUR HEART BREAKS FOR HER. Read morePublished 8 months ago by SHOPAHOLIC
My seniors compared and contrasted to the original. They loved Jessica Lange but unanimously perferred Marlon BrandoPublished 10 months ago by M. S. Mccollum
Lange and Baldwin exceed expectations. This version of the play stays true to the play script (unlike the Marlon Brando version) Both Alect Baldwin and Jessica Lange absolutely... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Kendra B
This was a great production of this classic. At first, of course you make the usual comparisons....but you get lost in the movie and the performances. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Bill, always a fan!
Lange nails Blanche. GREAT retelling of this classic. Not as great as Anne Margaret's version but awesome acting all aroundPublished 21 months ago by chris