Found in: Filmic 2022
A Street Car Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire

classified 15

Filmic 2022


Please note: This was screened in June 2022

Elia Kazan
Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter
122 mins, 1951, US
Primary language

Jazz, the most quintessentially American musical idiom, arrives on the big screen for the first time in Elia Kazan’s tempestuous adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ controversial play, A Streetcar Named Desire. Composer Alex North stretches the parameters of the film score, defining the method persona of Marlon Brando in the process – Writer and Season curator Sean Wilson

Featuring an Oscar®-winning, melodramatic turn from Vivien Leigh, this Southern Gothic drama depicts the fragile sentimentalism of a woman who leaves her aristocratic background and seeks refuge with her sister in a dilapidated New Orleans project, only to be taunted mercilessly by her childish brother-in-law –a young Marlon Brando delivering an intense realist performance in his breakout role.

The jazz-infused score by Alex North is considered by many to be the first of its kind, composed at a time when jazz was labelled as ‘degenerate’ by the Office of the Production Code and the Catholic Legion of Decency, who censored one of the lengthy jazz cues on its initial release.

It wasn’t just in terms of genre that North’s score broke new ground, with the composer writing music to reflect the characters’ changing moods and behaviour, at a time when the convention was to assign each character a specific theme or motif.