Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for American playwright Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.
A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, Harper, 2006
Tennessee Williams rightfully takes his place as one of the premier playwrights in the history of the American theater. The relentless turning out of high quality pieces (and other short literary expositions) on subjects that in an earlier day before the late 1940s and early 1950s would have not found nearly so receptive an audience.
I saw the movie version of Streetcar long before I read the original play so that, of necessity, the role of Stanley Kowalski on the page evokes the powerfully strong, sexual and primitive role performed by Marlon Brando and the equally powerful performance by Vivian Leigh as the coquettish, down-on-her-heels, blatantly feminine-wiles wielding Blanche Dubois. There are however, important differences between the story line presented in the movie and in the original play version. Some of the more explicit graphically sexual scenes and latent homosexual allusions did not pass muster with the movie censors of the times. For one familiar with the story from the stage or theater it is well worth going back and reading the original play to get a feel for the tensions that remain unexplored in the other media.
A reading of the play also makes clear something is missing from the film productions and that is the sense that the characters (including Blanche's sister Stella, Stanley's wife)are sleepwalking through life with their own private illusions that prevent them each, in the final analysis, from having more than a surface understanding of the others in the claustrophobic little "home" they inhabit. Blanche will pay, and pay dearly, for not understanding Stanley better as she tries to live the illusion of a fallen, aging Southern Belle. In any case, whether on stage on the screen or on the page this is a great American classic.