Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

In director Elia Kazan's powerful, frank and brilliant dramatic version of Tennessee Williams' 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning play based upon Oscar Saul's adaptation:

  • set during the wartime emergency, the story was about two sisters: neurotic, disturbed, alcoholic and sensitive southern belle Blanche DuBois (Oscar-winning Vivien Leigh) who arrived by train in New Orleans. She took a streetcar named "Desire" to visit the dwelling of her pregnant younger sister Stella (Oscar-winning Kim Hunter); it was a dingy and cramped apartment (in a run-down building) located in the French Quarter, that afforded little privacy
  • Blanche met her brutish, bullying and coarse brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski (Oscar-nominated Marlon Brando) - a sexy, animalistic, working class, earthy and vulgar muscle-bound and beefy male, who quickly became vicious and annoyed by Blanche's aristocratic affectations, emotional fragility and fake refined airs
  • in a volatile dinner scene, Stanley asserted himself: "I'm the King around here..."
  • Blanche admitted that after their father's death, she acquired a high school English teaching job, but was relieved of her employment ('leave of absence') and lost her self-respect due to indications of 'insanity' (a vague reference to child molestation)
  • Stanley was incensed when he learned that Blanche had seemingly lost the family holdings at Belle Reve to foreclosure and creditors, and seemed to either be holding out on the inheritance money fortune, or had spent it all; thus, he refused to pamper the dishonest Blanche and confronted her whenever he could
  • Blanche met Stanley's best friend/buddy bachelor Mitch (Karl Malden), who naively took a romantic interest in the flirtatious and coquettish Blanche; she was able to restore her genteel ways due to his admiring and courteous attention, and to keep her self-deluding fantasies going
  • during one night's poker game, Stanley's volatility exploded and he drunkenly struck Stella. Both Stella and Blanche fled to their friend/landlady Eunice's (Peg Hillias) upstairs apartment for safety. The inarticulate Stanley, wearing a torn and sweaty T-shirt on the street, begged for Stella to come back by bellowing and screaming up to his wife: "Hey Stell lahhhh...," and she returned to him; the pregnant Stella descended on the stairs when the remorseful Stanley begged for forgiveness from her and they shared a close embrace - with his ear against her swollen body to hear their unborn child's heartbeat; Stanley carried Stella off to bed for a night of love-making
  • Blanche connived to have Stella leave Stanley for good, but her sister was irresistibly drawn to Stanley's macho passion for her
  • over time, Mitch became uncertain about Blanche's continually-anxious and uncomfortable feelings about her age, and her confession that she was widowed after she drove her first young husband to suicide due to their lack of sexual consummation. Blanche's tawdry history of promiscuity, drinking and instability slowly began to surface. Stella (and Mitch) also learned from Stanley that Blanche had actually been fired from her teaching job for seducing a 17-year-old student, and afterwards appeared to engage in prostitution before she was forced out of town
  • in one telling sequence, the very desperate Blanche (who was still neurotically grieving) conversed in small talk with a bashful young newspaper boy (Wright King) at the apartment's door, and then seductively offered herself for a maternal kiss; he reminded her of her young husband who had committed suicide after she continually demeaned him, and she wanted to subconsciously make up for his death
Blanche Kissing Young Boy (Wright King)
  • although Blanche and Mitch often dated and had made plans to marry, Stanley stripped away and ultimately revealed the secrets of Blanche's embarrassing, lurid past. Ultimately, Mitch broke off their engagement for her betrayals, even though Blanche piteously begged for forgiveness after he held her face up to a naked light bulb and had forced her to confess and accept her ugly past
  • sensing death in the air, Blanche exclaimed: "No, not now!" as a black-shrouded woman selling flowers moved straight toward the front door, incanting: "Flores para los muertos" ("Flowers for the dead")
  • when Stella went into labor and was in the hospital delivering her baby, Stanley confronted Blanche (wearing a tattered gown and tiara) in the apartment and condemned her for all of her lies and deceptions (she fantasized that she would be going on a cruise with an older admiring gentleman). In a heavily-censored or edited sequence, Stanley rough-housed with the drunken Blanche and then assaultively 'raped' her (off-screen); she self-defensively protected herself with a broken beer bottle, but was smashed into a mirror; this caused the destruction of whatever vestiges of her shattered self still remained when she suffered a nervous breakdown

Prelude to Stanley's Rape of Blanche

Rough-housing/Rape Assault

Blanche Self-Defensively Smashed Into a Mirror - Causing Her to Faint or to Be Knocked Unconscious
  • in the film's conclusion, Stella refused to believe Blanche's accusations about Stanley's behavior; arrangements were made for the mentally-distressed Blanche to be admitted to a mental institution. A doctor and matron arrived to take her away to an asylum, as she calmly told the elderly doctor: "I've always depended on the kindness of strangers."
  • after Blanche's departure, instead of remaining with her husband, Stella rebuffed Stanley and retreated to Eunice's place again, and vowed to never return to him due to his insensitivity and rough, assaultive treatment of Blanche

Volatile Dinner Scene (Stanley: "I'm the King around here!")

Stanley Bellowing Up to His Wife: "Hey Stell lahhhh..."

Pregnant Stella Hugging Stanley

Mitch Holding Blanche's Aging Face Up to Naked Light Bulb

Blanche's Fears About "Flowers for the Dead"

Blanche to Mental Institution Doctor: "I've always depended on the kindness of strangers"


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