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When Blanche Met Brando: The Scandalous Story of "A Streetcar Named Desire" Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 26, 2005

ISBN-10: 0312321643 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (May 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312321643
  • ASIN: B005SNHQWY
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,063,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tennessee Williams's 1947 masterpiece took Broadway by storm and made the brooding Marlon Brando a star. Blanche DuBois's last line, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," has become a cliché, but Staggs (All About All About Eve; Close-Up on Sunset Boulevard) argues that the whole play is a seminal work, which still "seduces with its disordered exoticism and its power to engulf." He has crafted an entertaining behind-the-scenes narrative of both the play and the film—from Williams's early drafts to the film's battles with Hollywood censors. Rather than dwell on academic interpretations of Streetcar, Staggs takes a more personal tack. He profiles everyone from director Elia Kazan to Jessica Tandy (Broadway's Blanche) as well as backstage personnel. The result is a comprehensive minihistory of 20th-century American stage and screen. And he doesn't stint on tabloid juice, either, noting that both Vivien Leigh and Kazan had voracious sexual appetites. He also incorporates playful trivia, such as a Jeopardy!-style quiz on actresses who've played Blanche. The inclusion of such lighthearted information balances Staggs's absorbing account of the creation of and continued fascination with this American classic. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Opinionated, revealing, constantly entertaining account of the birth and growth of Tennessee Williams's most famous play." --Kirkus Reviews
"A comprehensive minihistory of 20th-century American stage and screen and [Staggs] doesn't skimp on tabloid juice." --Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Broadway and Hollywood history!
Robert Sanchez
Hi, There are many books out with well-researched material for you to spend your money and time -- this isn't one of them.
Jordan
And all in all the author clearly demonstrates a love for the play, and all it's beautiful details.
K. Moore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Todd E. Babcock on July 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book is by no means deceiving in it's pulp/tabloid style. The author, while having done much research, revels in his own streaming opinions about Williams, Brando, 'Streetcar' and more importantly, what he 'thinks' happened based on pure speculation. Theres no doubt the simple facts of this production and its titan creators is enough to be compelling material but I often found some of the belittling commentary irritating.

An entire paragraph on Brando's "bubble butt" or describing LAST TANGO IN PARIS as "limp-dick cinema" should give the reader some idea of the level of cattiness married to erudition you have here. If you are looking for less of a 'personal' contribution from the author I would recommend Donald Spoto's book on Williams and Peter Manso's on Brando (the latter cited repeatedly in this book).

If you are simply looking for an information-laden, STAR magazine read for the summer...you've come to the right place. Or, if you're like me, you want any kernal of wisdom not already covered in other tomes (i.e. Kazan's A LIFE) you may turn over a few stones between the speculation and hetero-phobic opinions.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By hooligan on July 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed Sam Staggs' book about "Streetcar!" However, I didn't find it as thorough as his other books about "All About Eve" and "Sunset Boulevard." There were plenty of details about the Brando-Tandy & Brando-Leigh versions of "Streetcar," but hardly a mention of the Ralph Meeker and Anthony Quinn/Uta Hagen productions of "Streetcar...!" There was one humourous mention of Judith Evelyn as Blanche, but I would have been more interested in hearing about these two versions rather than all the other operatic and various foreign productions of "Streetcar"!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Leser on January 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
Like other reviewers, I was delighted to find a book dedicated to the fabulous "Streetcar named Desire". The book doubtlessly is entertaining, at least most of the time. The style is chatty, the author indulges in rumors, anecdotes and gossip, never hesitating to give a highly subjective viewpoint. As he doesn't pretend to be objective, I didn't mind too much, though I would have preferred more information and less gossip. Still, most of it was amusing to read. I don't know much about Brando and the author's chit-chatty information about him made Brando come to life for me. - Sometimes, I was a bit lost when the author seemed to forget that not everybody is as familiar with all Hollywood personalities or wannabee personalities. His overly familiar way of talking about people I never heard of, the lack of at least one or two sentences of background information, made some passages unclear to me.

What I thoroughly enjoyed were the interpretations of the play and its characters, some by the author himself, some quoted from others. I would have liked more of this. Also, his description of mimic and camera work during the first scene of the movie was very perceptive. I watched this scene right afterwards and did see it with different eyes. Again, more of that would have been great. Those - in my opinion - were the best parts of the book.

As mentioned by another reviewer, the information about Vivien Leigh and her being affected by playing Blanche was highly insufficient. It is such a fascinating topic and one that would have deserved more coverage. I was disappointed by the lacklustre handling of this topic. Also, less rehashed gossip and more information would have improved the chapter on Vivien Leigh tremendously.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert Sanchez on June 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a fantastic book; I devoured it in one sitting. It details everything you'd ever want to know about Tennessee Williams' famous play, and the resulting movie, as well as subsequent appearances on stage and TV. The intriguing anecdotes regarding Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kazan, and others connected with "Streetcar" will keep you engrossed for hours. I've read Mr. Staggs' previous books, and enjoyed them very much. I must say, though, that he really outdoes himself with When Blanche Met Brando. He delivers the definitive word on "Streetcar" in all its incarnations. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Broadway and Hollywood history!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mary Kay Remick on November 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Skaggs made reference to my novel, SEARCHING FOR BLANCHE, with a condescending nod to the problem of agoraphobia. How could my character ride a train from Atlanta to New Orleans when she could barely leave the house, he asked. If he'd read a little further Mr. Skaggs would have learned that she left in the company of her best friend and constant companion, Mister Vodka. Kept hidden in her purse in a bottle of Scope, Mister Vodka provided comfort and solace. Until she meets a certain cabbie named Art.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Lamarre on July 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was thrilled to discover a book dedicated entirely to the history of this seminal piece of theatre. Imagine my disappointment when I found the author constantly injecting himself into the proceedings and peppering his prose with cheesy "insights," mainly about Brando's sex appeal or catty tangents that don't further one's understanding of the play/film. The editors must have been asleep at the wheel on this one as the book hopscotches around and, sadly, gives short shrift to the actual writing of the play. Ultimately the title's promise of something "Scandalous" is never really delivered, aside from some scandalously bad writing. The upside to this book is that it is meticulously researched and does contain some revelatory moments, especially interviews with long-forgotten actors, designers and behind-the-scenes players that helped shape the legend of "Streetcar."
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