Warner Bros. has this fancy new Blu-ray book release to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Elia Kazan’s masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire. This new Blu-ray edition hits shelves this coming Tuesday, April 10th. They call it a Blu-ray book because the packaging is essentially also a book. This means instead of a booklet or something that comes inside the case, the case itself is the book. It’s kind of an interesting concept.
Essentially, the special features on this new Blu-ray release are the same that are found on the 2006 DVD release:
- Commentary on the feature film by 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
- Five other documentaries: A Streetcar on Broadway, A Streetcar in Hollywood, Desire and Censorship, North and the South and An Actor Named Brando
I own that DVD release, yet somehow never watched the special features. Now I have, though! The 75 minute long Kazan documentary is from 1995 and features narration by Eli Wallach and some really great interviews with Kazan himself. It’s a great look at Kazan’s filmography, with insights from the director on the process of making each film. While I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Scorsese’s A Letter To Elia, I definitely recommend it to fans of Kazan’s work.
The picture quality of the Blu-ray, however, makes this purchase worth it for collectors and those who enjoy owning their favorite films in the newest formats. The black and white cinematography is so crisp and the contrasts are utterly perfect. Even on my shitty little television that movie looked incredible.
Before you run out and pre-oder this set, let’s take a minute and remain in awe and wonder of Stanley and Stella in the scene deemed too hot by censors in 1951:
And Brando hissing at Vivien Leigh. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review disc given to me by Warner Bros., though the opinions are all my own.
Kendra over at Viv and Larry is hosting an Oliviers appreciation blogathon and I have been trying to figure out what I wanted to write about for my contribution for awhile. Laurence Olivier was nominated for eleven Academy Awards over a five decades (nine for Best Actor, one for Best Supporting Actor and one for Best Director), as well as receiving two honorary awards. His only competitive win was Best Actor for Hamlet (the film also won Best Picture). Vivien Leigh was only nominated for two Academy Awards over the years, both for Best Actress: Gone With The Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire. She won both times. Two were married for twenty years (it ended in divorce), made a handful of films together and worked extensively together in the theater. Have you got all of that? So, obviously, there is a lot of material there and a lot of ways to approach writing about them, together or separately. I finally decided to take a look at two of their Oscar-nominated performances, in separate films, that touch on madness. Beware: there are quite a bit of spoilers after the cut.
This was a film I’d meant to watch for a while because it was Vivien Leigh’s last screen appearance. Then it disappeared off of Instant Netflix and I kind of forgot I wanted to watch it. Luckily for me, TCM showed the film last week as part of its 31 Days of Oscar and boy am I glad that they did. I absolutely loved it. I think it might be one of the finest examples of interlocking storylines I’ve ever seen. Plus, the set decoration and cinematography were to die for. Some of the crispest B&W cinematography I’ve seen in a while. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two: Best B&W Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography (won), Best B&W Costume Design, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress Simone Signoret, Best Supporting Actor Michael Dunn, Best Actor Oskar Werner and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Darling, Doctor Zhivago, A Thousand Clowns and winner The Sound of Music.
I hadn’t seen this movie until about a month or so ago, when I discovered it was on Instant Netflix. I watched it pretty late at night, and I must say that was probably not the best idea. It is a brilliant masterpiece of a film, but it is has such heavy subject matter, it made for a pretty fretful night of sleep. I’ve watched several adaptations of Tennessee Williams plays, and I definitely think this is the best of the lot. I also think it is Marlon Brando’s best work (although, I have not seen but pieces of The Godfather; please refrain from stoning me, I swear I’ll remedy that soon). It was nominated for a whopping 12 Academy Awards, winning four and is one of a handful of films to be nominated in all four of the acting categories. It was nominated for: Best B&W Cinematography, Best B&W Costume Design, Best Score, Best Sound, Best Writing, Screenplay (this was back when their were three writing categories), Best Actor Marlon Brando, Best Director Elia Kazan and Best Picture. It won the following categories: Best B&W Art Direction, Best Actress Vivien Leigh, Best Supporting Actress Kim Hunter and Best Supporting Actor Karl Malden. For Best Picture it was up against A Place In The Sun, Decision Before Dawn, Quo Vadis, and winner An American In Paris. I’ve seen two of those films and I would most definitely say the Academy made the wrong decision here. It was really another case of flashy musical winning over gritty, masterful drama.