A Streetcar Named Desire - Blu-ray Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 4 Old 04-09-12, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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A Streetcar Named Desire - Blu-ray Review

Title: A Streetcar Named Desire
Starring: Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden
Directed by: Elia Kazan
Written by: Tennessee Williams, Oscar Saul
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: PG
Runtime: 125 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 10, 2012


HTS Overall Score:80


I wanted to start this review off with a preface. In general, “Classic” films of sorts are of little interest to me. There are a few exceptions that do not follow suit for me, such as ‘Singing in the Rain”, “My Fair Lady”, “Gone with the Wind”, to name a few. Going into this movie, I was half-expecting to be bored out of my mind; however, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I had previously seen this movie a long time ago, but had forgotten the vast majority of the film. I ended up feeling incredibly enthralled by the performances of Brando, Leigh, and Hunter. To me, it felt like a modern-day made, throw-back silver-screen film.

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ opens with an attractive English school teacher; Blanche DuBois (Leigh), from Mississippi, traveling to New Orleans for the first time. Blanche’s in search for her sister's, Stella (Hunter) and her husband's, Stanley (Brando), home where she plans to stay for a little while as she sorts out her life. Blanche swiftly abandoned her old town due to losing all that she and her family owned, including their beloved home. While she explains her predicament, the pompous, aristocratic Blanche acquaints herself with Stanley. Stanley quickly becomes suspiciously curious about why she is really there. Given all the fancy things that she brought with her it doesn’t seem to coincide with her story of “losing the house”. As Blanche stays with Stanley and Stella longer she quickly overstays her welcome and argument and bitterness between Blanche and Stanley become more frequent and heated.

Despite Blanche’s initial disdain for the living environment she seems to have found herself well adjusted in her new environment. She also begins to court Stanley’s best friend, Mitch (Malden), who falls head over heels with Blanche the moment he lays eyes on her. This only creates more tension between Blanche and Stanley. The rift in their relationship widens and Stella finds herself caught in between the two of them. She must decide where her loyalty resides – is it with her husband, Stanley, or is it with her older sister, Blanche?

As the story of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ unfolds, Stanley personally takes it upon himself to investigate the truth and real reasoning behind Blanche’s escape from Mississippi to his home in New Orleans. Written originally as a stage play, this film was written by the original writer, Tennessee Williams, and adapted by Oscar Saul. Together they made a movie that really tells a timeless story that I found myself enamored by. I was surprised how well this film, made in 1951, held up to modern-day dramas. I certainly can see why this film was nominated for the 12 Academy Awards; the filmmakers did a marvelous job with ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’


Rated PG for Thematic Elements


So how does the video hold up for a film that is now 60 years old? Warner Bros did a fantastic job with the video aspect of this film. The film is free from any specks or dirt on the print and it even seems nearly each frame was preserved perfectly. There still is something magical about black and white films that make them appealing. Even after 60 years, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ looks even better than any of its previous releases. Blacks are deep and convey much of the drearier feeling that looms over Blanche’s existence. Contrast and lighting is wonderful, despite there being very few different scene backdrops. The varying sets are dressed and blanketed in mood lighting that really portrays the current scenes mood fantastically. Detail is better than I initially expected, given the age of the film, but seeing how well-preserved the print seems to be, it makes sense.


Like the video portion of this disc, the audio is well preserved and Warner Bros even kept this film in its original mono format. Despite being a monaural experience, the sound was quite good. The movie is so clearly dialog driven and each word, despite heavy accents, come across crystal clear. The music, though not quite as grandiosely orchestrated as today’s films, still is notable in its own right and plays an important factor in the success of this movie.


• Commentary with Karl Malden, film historian Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young
• Elia Kazan movie trailer gallery
• Movie and audio outtakes
• Marlon Brando screen test
• 'Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey' documentary
• 'A Streetcar on Broadway' Featurette
• 'A Streetcar in Hollywood' Featurette
• 'Desire and Censorship' Featurette
• 'North and the South' Featurette
• 'An Actor Named Brando' Featurette

This release of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' on blu-ray coinciding with the 60th Anniversary of the film. Warner Bros has done a fantastic job with this release through and through. The audio and video presentation are as good as they ever will be and to fans of the movie, this disc will be very satisfactory. I hadn't seen the film in nearly two decades, but even still I felt like I was watching this film for the first time ever. I was thoroughly entranced by Brando and Leigh as they dominated their roles. This is a "Classic" film in every sense of the word. To fans of this movie, this is definitely worth picking up; to those who haven't seen this movie, it is worth checking out. All in all, I am very pleased with this release and actually am planning for another viewing very soon of this film.

Recommendation: Must see it!

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post #2 of 4 Old 04-09-12, 07:55 PM
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Re: A Streetcar Named Desire - Blu-ray Review

Thanks for the review Jon!

As you, I have never really been a big classic movie person - in my mind, a "classic" movie is one of those 80's teen movies like The Breakfast Club!

Good review - I think I will try to expand my horizons a bit and give this one a go.....
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-09-12, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: A Streetcar Named Desire - Blu-ray Review

The Breakfast Club. Yeah, most movies that came from the 80's are throwaways. I don't know what it is about that decade...

Anyway, definitely check this movie out for yourself!

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #4 of 4 Old 04-15-12, 10:21 PM
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Re: A Streetcar Named Desire - Blu-ray Review

My wife and I watched it a couple months ago, she for the first time. It's a very well done movie that is entirely dependent on thematic elements and acting ability rather than the slick production and effects as most current films appear to be. A good recommendation for sure, and amazing impact in black and white. You can almost feel the oppressive humidity and heat exude from the film: good stuff.
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