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Dartmouth News - Dartmouth to screen uncensored "Streetcar Named Desire" with star Kim Hunter - 05/05/98

Posted 05/05/98

Audiences will have a chance to see the film version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire as director Elia Kazan intended it to be seen when the restored film is screened on Tuesday, May 12 at 6 p.m. in 28 Silsby Hall. Actress Kim Hunter, who won an Oscar for her role as Stella Kowalski, will speak briefly about the censorship issues and take questions following the film.

The screening and talk are free and open to the public, and sponsored by Dartmouth's Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies (M.A.L.S.) program.

When the proposed script first came across his desk, Joseph Breen of the Motion Picture Production Code insisted that portions of the script be censored. Specifically, Breen mandated that the "black stories" about Blanche's late husband's homosexuality and her subsequent "nymphomania" be eliminated and that the film's harrowing finale -- Stanley Kowalski's rape of Blanche, which Breen considered "justified and unpunished" -- disappear completely. Warner Brothers cut the scenes without telling Kazan. Tuesday's screening will show all of those scenes, which amount to four-and-a-half minutes of film.

The film was nominated for 12 Oscars and won four, for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Art Direction.

Streetcar is Williams' classic play about Blanche DuBois (played by Vivien Leigh), a faded Southern belle living the life of promiscuity and self-delusion, who comes to stay with her sister, Stella (played by Hunter), and Stella's coarse husband, Stanley Kowalski (played by Marlon Brando), in the steamy French Quarter of New Orleans. Hunter made her Broadway debut as Stella in December 1947, for which she won both Donaldson and Critics' Awards. She later won an Academy Award, Look Magazine Award and Hollywood Foreign Correspondents' Golden Globe for her performance in the film version of the play.

Had the cuts not been made, The Legion of Decency, established by Catholic churchmen and lay members in 1934 to impose standards of morality, would have given the film a "C" rating (meaning "condemned"). If that had happened, Hunter said, "No good Catholic could go and see the film." The censored version of the film received a "B" rating (meaning "objectionable in part for all").

In addition to Streetcar, some of her other films include: A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven); Deadline:USA; Lilith; The Swimmer; and the first of three highly successful Planet of the Apes quintet, in which she played the chimpanzee psychiatrist, Dr. Zira.

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