Trivia / A Streetcar Named Desire

  • Ability over Appearance: Stanley was originally written as an older man, but Elia Kazan realized that Marlon Brando would be perfect for the part and Tennessee Williams agreed, saying it gave the character more dimension for his violence to seem to come from youthful ignorance rather than aged spite.
  • Actor Allusion: Vivien Leigh's playing a Deconstruction of the Southern Belle archetype again, but this time taking the "mentally broken" route rather than the "just plain nasty" route. In a way, Blanche and Scarlett could be seen as Foils to one another.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: One of Streetcar's most famous lines is "I don't want realism. I want magic!" Although it was added to later versions, Blanche never says this in the original play. She does say it in the film though, merging this with Adaptation Displacement. Here's how the conversation in the play actually goes:
    Blanche: I don't want realism.
    Mitch: Naw, I guess not.
    Blanche: I'll tell you what I want. Magic!
  • Creator Backlash: Marlon Brando thought Stanley was the shallowest character he ever played and couldn't understand how he became a sex symbol.
  • Dyeing for Your Art:
    • When Vivien Leigh played Blanche on the stage in London, she bleached her dark hair blonde. She wore wigs for the film however, not trusting American hairdressers.
    • Marlon Brando also hit the gym and bulked up to prepare for the role of Stanley.
  • Executive Meddling: The 1951 movie suffered heavily from this: besides changing the ending, they downplayed the plot point of Blanche's teacher/student relationship (though it's still a plot point as to why she's not working) and removed all references to Blanche's young love being gay; instead, he's called a poet and "sensitive", and the reason for his suicide is slightly changed from being found out by Blanche and calling him weak, to Blanche being an Alpha Bitch and openly disdaining him at a prom. As for the ending, it changes the tone to a slightly more hopeful, though very uncertain, one - Stella decides to leave Stanley, and it fades to black. Compare the play, where, despite being openly molested by Stanley (who thinks of her less as the mother of his baby and more of a sex toy), she stays with him.
  • Fake American: But of course, Vivien Leigh was British, and Blanche Dubois was a Southern Belle.
  • Hostility on the Set:
    • There were clashes on the set between Vivien Leigh and her fellow cast members. Besides being the only major cast member not to have come from the Broadway production, Leigh was a classically trained actress, whereas most of the other actors studied under the "Stanislavsky Method." Even so, Leigh was determined to make a good picture and create a great performance. She reportedly could not wait to get to the set every day, and was often the last lead actor to leave at day's end.
    • There was some bad blood between Leigh and Marlon Brando at the beginning of the shoot, but these conflicts had nothing to do with acting style. Brando was simply annoyed at Leigh's typically British manners and stuffiness. The two acting giants eventually became friends as the shoot progressed. Brando's dead-on perfect imitations of Leigh's then-husband Laurence Olivier's Henry V did much to break the ice between the two.
  • Reality Subtext: Vivien Leigh, who suffered from bipolar disorder in real life, later had difficulties in distinguishing her real life from that of Blanche.
  • The Red Stapler: T-shirts sales in general, and tight t-shirts especially, spiked as a result of Marlon Brando wearing several in the film and play. This is partly what caused tight t-shirts to actually be mass produced; until then, only regular t-shirts could be bought, and for the film regular t-shirts were washed several times and sewn in at the back to be tighter.
  • Romance on the Set: Averted. Marlon Brando was attracted to Vivien Leigh, but he couldn't bring himself to seduce her, as he liked her husband, Laurence Olivier, too much.
  • Star-Making Role: For Marlon Brando, in both film and theatre.
  • Those Two Actors: In an odd coincidence Mickey Kuhn, who plays the young sailor that shows Blanche the streetcar at the start, had starred alongside Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. He had played Beau Wilkes, the child of Ashley and Melanie. When word got to Vivien Leigh about this, she called him into her dressing room for a half-hour chat.
  • Underage Casting: Vivien Leigh, who was only 36 at the time of filming, had to be made up to look older.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Jessica Tandy was originally slated to play Blanche, after creating the role on Broadway, but it was decided that Vivien Leigh had more box-office appeal. Olivia de Havilland turned down the role of Blanche because her-then husband Marcus Goodrich advised against her playing it. Also, her wage demands were too much. They had also entertained the idea of casting her sister Joan Fontaine as Stella. Jennifer Jones was also considered.
    • Early in development, William Wyler had expressed an interest in adapting the play with Bette Davis in the part of Blanche.
    • Robert Mitchum was offered the role of Stanley Kowalski, but he was under contract to RKO, which refused to let him do it.
    • John Garfield turned down the role of Stanley Kowalski because he didn't want to be overshadowed by the female lead. Burt Lancaster was also considered.


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