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Tennessee Williams Film Collection (A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 Two-Disc Special Edition / Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958 Deluxe Edition / Sweet Bird of Youth / The Night of the Iguana / Baby Doll / The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone)

4.7 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product Description

Tennessee Williams Film Collection (DVD) (7-Pack)

A much-needed DVD tribute to one of the essential American playwrights, The Tennessee Williams Collection gathers six Williams titles and one vintage documentary. Taken together, it's a potent introduction to the specific terrain (geographical and emotional) of this brilliant writer. The set is anchored by Warner's deluxe two-disc treatment of A Streetcar Named Desire, which has copious extras (among them a fine 90-minute documentary about director Elia Kazan). The multi-Oscar-winning Streetcar is one of the better stage adaptations in film history, and it captures the electrifying Marlon Brando, re-creating his stage role, in the part that changed American acting: the brutish New Orleans sensualist Stanley Kowalski. Vivien Leigh won an Oscar opposite him, as the faded (except in her own mind) Southern belle Blanche DuBois, whose arrival in the Kowalski home leads to disaster.

Kazan also directed Baby Doll, which Williams scripted from a couple of one-act plays. This outrageous sex comedy casts the excellent Carroll Baker as the 19-year-old wife of middle-aged Karl Malden, who anxiously awaits the day he can finally consummate his maddening marriage; immigrant cotton magnate Eli Wallach shows up at Malden's crumbling plantation house just in time to take the bloom off the rose, as it were. Famous for being condemned in 1956, Baby Doll remains a very modern (and gloriously dirty) movie. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Richard Brooks, faithfully brings three of Williams's indelible characters to the screen, even if the script discreetly changes the original stage text: the hot Maggie the Cat (Elizabeth Taylor), her reluctant husband Brick (Paul Newman), and Brick's rich Big Daddy (Burl Ives). All three performers act the lights out.

Sweet Bird of Youth reunites Paul Newman with director Brooks, and also showcases Geraldine Page's performance as an aging film star tagging along with young stud Newman to his Southern home town. Some of Williams' more depraved touches are toned down, but the milieu is unmistakable and the movie is intense. The Night of the Iguana gives Richard Burton perhaps his finest hour onscreen: as Williams' dissolute defrocked priest, playing tour guide in Puerto Vallarta to tour groups of nattering biddies. The movie has director John Huston's sympathy for life's losers, as well as a trio of women built to torment Burton's reverend: Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, and Sue Lyon. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, based on Williams's novel, is not a great movie, but gives Vivien Leigh a good workout as a wounded actress dallying with Italian gigolo Warren Beatty.

Tennessee Williams' South is a 1973 documentary featuring some marvelous observations from Williams, as he holds court for filmmaker Harry Rasky. It also has long scenes from his plays, enacted by good folks such as Maureen Stapleton, Colleen Dewhurst, and Burl Ives. Especially valuable is a Streetcar sequence with Jessica Tandy re-creating her original role as Blanche. Williams himself reads the narration from The Glass Menagerie, a privileged moment. This is not an exhaustive Williams set (Joseph Mankiewicz's Suddenly, Last Summer and Sidney Lumet's The Fugitive Kind are among the best Williams films), but it maps out the steamy, tortured landscape awfully well. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • A Streetcar Named Desire (Two-Disc Special Edition)
  • Commentary by Karl Malden and film historians Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young
  • Elia Kazan movie trailer gallery
  • Feature-length documentary: Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey
  • Movie and audio outtakes
  • Marlon Brando screen test
  • Five new documentaries: A Streetcar on Broadway, A Streetcar in Hollywood, Censorship and Desire, North and the Music of the South, and An Actor Named Brando
  • Black and white, 1.33 aspect ratio
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Deluxe Edition)
  • Commentary by biographer Donald Spoto, author of "The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams"
  • New featurette Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Playing Cat and Mouse
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Color, 1.85 anamorphic widescreen
  • Sweet Bird of Youth
  • New featurette Sweet Bird of Youth: Chasing Time
  • Vintage Geraldine Page and Rip Torn screen test
  • Color, 2.35 anamorphic widescreen
  • The Night of the Iguana
  • New featurette The Night of the Iguana: Houston's Gamble
  • Vintage featurette On the Trail of the Iguana
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Black and white, 1.85 anamorphic widescreen
  • The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
  • New featurette The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone: Looking for Love in All the Dark Corners
  • Baby Doll
  • New featurette
  • Trailer gallery
  • Black and white, 1.33
  • Bonus disc: Tennessee Williams' South

Product Details

  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 7
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 2, 2006
  • Run Time: 518 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EBD9UI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,518 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tennessee Williams Film Collection (A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 Two-Disc Special Edition / Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958 Deluxe Edition / Sweet Bird of Youth / The Night of the Iguana / Baby Doll / The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richardson VINE VOICE on April 23, 2006
Format: DVD
This review isn't of the great movies contained but the DVD set and their respective presentations.

first..let me say the bonus DVD "Tennesse Williams South" exceptional..its a film made about and with him in 1974 and besides his own readings of his work , which are illuminating, it features legends like Burl Ives and Jessica Tandy re-creating his dialog..simply timeless!

now..onto the Discs/Movies

the bonus featurettes are all very well done however, seemingly shorter than they should/could be. By that I mean...they have current interviews with Karl Malden and Eli Wallach for BABYDOLL and Rip Torn for Sweet Bird of Youth and the ever beautiful Jill St John for The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, and yet the amount of face time these actual stars of the films in question get is barely a line here or there? Not that the featurettes aren't good...they just seems they could be a could 10minutes longer each...

now...the opposite problem is in the second disc of Streetcar Named Desire....the feature length (90min) Elia Kazan: A directors Journey is wonderful..its a decade or so old but was done while he was still with us and his participation raised it above the level of talking heads documentaries of the day. The strange thing is that the new featurettes on this disc feature way too much culled from the aforementioned feature. I don't understand....WB has wonderful featurettes on all the movies that seem truncated and then BLOATS out the Streetcar featurettes with duplicate material from itself? Only the current footage of Karl Malden saves the Streetcar featurettes from their own plagerism.

Now..the films themselves are all in very good shape considering they go back half a century. I wasn't a particular fan of Tennesse Williams..
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Format: DVD
If playwright Tennessee Williams's Southern gothic writing style makes his works feel more ornately melodramatic than those of O'Neill or his closest contemporary Arthur Miller, they do provide resonant showcases for the actors inhabiting his characters. This is clearly evidenced in this six-film, eight-disc collection that epitomizes some of the most powerful acting to come out of Hollywood in the 1950's and early 1960's, all directed by true filmmaking masters. Probably because they are the least censored by the studio system at least in the form presented now, the best of the set are Elia Kazan's "A Streetcar Named Desire" and John Huston's "The Night of the Iguana". The others are Kazan's "Baby Doll", Richard Brooks' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", Jose Quintero's "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" and Brooks' "Sweet Bird of Youth".

A feral, smoldering Marlon Brando justifiably made his reputation as brutish Stanley Kowalski in 1951's "A Streetcar Named Desire", and his animalistic charisma still leaps off the screen. Intriguingly, one of the extras included in the two-disc set for the movie is footage from a 1947 screen test of Brando when he was 23, and his stardom seems assured even then. The plot of the movie amounts to the inevitable clash between Kowalski and his visiting sister-in-law, Blanche DuBois, a fading Southern belle on the verge of a mental breakdown. Having proven her ability to be a convincing Southerner in "Gone With the Wind", Vivien Leigh expertly handles all the florid dialogue with her particular blend of defiance and vulnerability.

Strong supporting work comes from Kim Hunter as Blanche's naive sister Stella and Karl Malden as Blanche's seemingly respectful suitor Mitch.
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Format: DVD
Warner Bros. has assembled a superb group of films derived from the plays, a novella, and an original screenplay by the immortal Tennessee Williams. Each film has been given a stellar presentation, with the finest of them all, his masterpiece, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, given the Warner 2-Disc special treatment. Filled with documentaries, commentaries, screen tests, and outtakes, this set is really an amazing assemblage of much of Williams' best work. At last we also have a remastered CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, which now looks stunning, following a rather faded and pasty DVD in the early days of the format.

Not content to rest on their laurels as others would, WB has unearthed a relatively unknown motion picture that will be a treasure to those who love this man's work.

A Canadian documentary feature from the mid '70s called "TENNNESSEE WILLIAMS' SOUTH" has been rescued from limbo, and how wonderful to have it included as an exclusive bonus in this collection. Not only does it contain rare interviews with Williams shot over the period of a year in both Key West and New Orleans, but it also contains scenes from his plays performed by some of our greatest actors, including Maureen Stapleton, Burl Ives, and most importantly, Jessica Tandy re-creating her performance as Blanche DuBois. A miracle to behold.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Being a sucker for a good box set, I have accumulated quite a few. You end up with some great DVDs, but also some titles that you might not have purchased on their own. This Tennessee Williams collection is one that I wholeheartedly recommend--each selection might not be a true classic, but each represents a significant part of Williams' lexicon and lore. Put together, they symbolize and honor a master craftsman and a time when words, dialogue and screenplays were more important than quick edits and loud soundtracks.

Of course, the undisputed champion of this set is the two disc "A Streetcar Named Desire." An absolutely perfect rendering of a brilliant play, "Streetcar" boasts some of the most powerful performances you're likely to see. With Oscars going to Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter--this is one of the most honored films in history. And Marlon Brando's Stanley Kowalski has become a legend.

I'm not going to individually review every film, each offers its own merits. What is amazing about these films is how adult they were for their day and how well they stand up today. Southern melodrama never looked or sounded so good.

"Cat on A Hot Tin Roof" is a flawed, truncated version of Williams' play--but still an entertaining vehicle for Newman and Taylor. "Sweet Bird Of Youth" is one of my absolute favorites proving once and for all that Geraldine Page was an acting icon! Those that dismiss "Baby Doll" as a more minor work miss some of its subtlety. It's a very clever romp. "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" and "The Night of the Iguana" are both intriguing and eminently watchable, but not without their problems.

These films represent very adult topics, some great writing--sometimes leaning toward lurid melodrama--and awesome performances.
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