Tennessee Williams on Screen: Best Acting in Hollywood Cinemas

The Tennessee Williams Film Collection, an eight-disc DVD set containing the acclaimed film adaptations of one of Americas greatest playwrights debuts from Warner Home Video. The collection features the long-awaited DVD debuts of Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana, Baby Doll and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone along with a newly remastered two-disc Special Edition of A Streetcar Named Desire and single disc Deluxe Edition of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Also included is a bonus disc, the rarely seen feature-length documentary, Tennessee Williams South.

The best acting to be seen in American films of the 1950s and 1960s is in the various film versions of Williams’ plays. In this collection, you’ll see the brilliant and young Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Paul Newman, Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Geraldine Page and Warren Beatty.

Extras Include Insightful New Making-Of Documentaries for Each Film, Expert Commentaries, Rare Screen Tests, Film/Audio Outtakes, Spotlight on Marlon Brando, and More. Bonus materials in this collection include new making-of documentaries for each film, plus expert commentaries, never before seen outtakes, rare screen tests with Brando, Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, a radio broadcast with Brando from 1947 and vintage featurettes. Exclusive to the collection is a special bonus disc, Tennessee Williams South, a feature-length vintage documentary that includes remarkable interviews with Williams in and around New Orleans, plus great scenes from Williams plays especially filmed for this documentary, including rare footage of Jessica Tandy as Blanche (the role she created in A Streetcar Named Desire) and Maureen Stapleton as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie.

Williams, from whose pen came stunning unforgettable characters, powerful portraits of the human condition and an incredible vision of life in the South — stands with Eugene ONeill and Arthur Miller as one of the three quintessentially eminent American playwrights.
Thomas Lanier Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi, on March 26, 1911 and his southern upbringing was reflected in the subjects, often based on family members, that he chose to write about. He published his first short story at the age of sixteen and his first great Broadway success was The Glass Menagerie, starring Laurette Taylor that won the New York Drama Critics Circle award in 1945 as the best play of the season.

Williams himself often commented on the violence in his own work, which to him seemed part of the human condition; he was conscious, also, of the violence in his plays. Critics who attacked the excesses of Williams work often were making thinly veiled assaults on his sexuality. Homosexuality was not discussed openly at that time but in Williams plays the themes of desire and isolation show, among other things, the influence of having grown up gay in a homophobic world.

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire: 2-Disc Special Edition is a celebration of what is, perhaps, Williams greatest masterpiece. This edition features three minutes of footage that was deleted from the final release version ( and thought lost until its rediscovery in the early 1990s) that underscores, among other things, the sexual tension between Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), and Stella Kowalskis (Kim Hunter) passion for husband Stanley. The Legion of Decency required these scenes be cut in order for the film to be released.

A Streetcar Named Desire depicts a culture clash between Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh), a pretentious, fading relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), a rising member of the industrial, inner-city immigrant class. Blanche is a Southern belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask her nymphomania and alcoholism. Arriving at the house of her sister Stella Kowalski (Kim Hunter), Stella fears Blanches arrival will upset the balance of her relationship with her husband Stanley, a primal, rough-hewn, brutish and sensual force of nature. He dominates Stella in every way, and she tolerates his offensive crudeness and lack of gentility largely because of her sexual need for him. Stanleys friend and Blanches would-be suitor Mitch (Karl Malden) is similarly trampled along Blanche and Stanleys collision course. Their final, inevitable confrontation results in Blanches mental annihilation.

The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Karl Malden), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Vivien Leigh) , Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kim Hunter), and Best Art Direction — Set Decoration, Black-and-White. It was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, Best Director, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Best Picture, Best Sound Recording and Best Writing, Screenplay. In 1999 the film was selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Special Features Disc One:
Commentary by Karl Malden and film historian Rudy Behlmer
Elia Kazan movie trailer gallery

Special Features Disc Two:

Movie and audio outtakes
Marlon Brando screen test
Elia Kazan: A Directors Journey documentary
5 new insightful documentaries:
o A Streetcar on Broadway
o A Streetcar in Hollywood
o Desire and Censorship
o North and the South
o An Actor Named Brando

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:

The raw emotions and crackling dialogue of Tennessee Williams 1955 Pulitzer Prize play rumble like a thunderstorm in this film version whose fiery performances and grown-up themes made it one of 1958s top box-office hits.

Paul Newman earned his first Oscar nomination as troubled ex-sports hero Brick. In a performance that marked a transition to richer adult roles, Elizabeth Taylor snagged her second. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture. Also starring Burl Ives (repeating his Broadway triumph as mendacity-loathing Big Daddy), Judith Anderson and Jack Carson, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof sizzles.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the story of a Southern family in crisis, focusing on the turbulent relationship between Maggie the Cat (Elizabeth Taylor) and Brick (Paul Newman), and their interaction with Bricks family over the course of a weekend gathering at the family estate. Brick, an aging football hero, has neglected his wife and further infuriates her by ignoring his brothers attempts to gain control of the family fortune. Although Big Daddy (Burl Ives) has cancer and will not celebrate another birthday, his doctors and his family have conspired to keep this information from him and his wife. His relatives are in attendance and attempt to present themselves in the best possible light, hoping to receive the definitive share of Big Daddys enormous wealth.

Oscar nominations were for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Newman); Best Actress (Taylor), Best Director (Richard Brooks) and Best Cinematography.

Special Features:

Commentary by biographer Donald Spoto, author of The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams
New featurette Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Somebody Up There Likes Him
Theatrical trailer
Languages: English & Franais
Subtitles: English, Franais & Espaol (feature film only)

Sweet Bird of Youth

Paul Newman, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Madeleine Sherwood and Ed Begley recreated their stage roles in this bravura film version which featured Shirley Knight. Begley won Best Supporting Oscar and Page and Knight were nominated. Sex, money, hypocrisy, financial and emotional blackmail are familiar elements in Williams literary realm and combine powerfully in Sweet Bird of Youth as Chance (Newman) battles his private demons in a desperate bid to redeem his wasted life and recapture his lost sweet bird of youth.

Handsome Chance Wayne (Newman) never found the Hollywood stardom he craved, but hes always been a star with the ladies. Now, back in his sleepy, sweaty Gulf Coast hometown, hes involved with two of them: a washed-up, drug-and-vodka-addled movie queen. And the girl he left behindand in trouble.

Special Features:

New featurette Sweet Bird of Youth: Broken Dreams and Damaged People
Never-before-seen Geraldine Page and Rip Torn screen test
Theatrical trailer
Languages: English & Franais
Subtitles: English, Franais & Espaol (feature film only)

Night of the Iguana

With an outstanding cast headed by Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr, direction by legendary John Huston and a steamy screenplay, Night of the Iguana pulses with conflicting passions and a surprising edge of knowing humor. Winner of one Academy Award and nominated for three more, the film explores the dark night of one mans soul and illuminates the difference between dreams and the bittersweet surrender to reality.

In a remote Mexican seacoast town, a defrocked Episcopal priest (Richard Burton), ruined by alcoholism and insanity, struggles to pull his shattered life together. And the three women in his life an earthy hotel owner (Ava Gardner), an ethereal artist (Deborah Kerr) and a hot-eyed, willful teenager (Sue Lyons) can help save him. Or destroy him.

Shot just south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the tension-filled shoot put that small city on the map. Due in no small part to the presence of non-cast member Elizabeth Taylor, the shooting of the film during 1963 attracted large numbers of paparazzi, made international headlines, and in turn made Puerto Vallarta world-famous.

Special Features:

Commentary by John Huston
New featurette The Night of the Iguana: Dangerous Creatures
Vintage featurette On the Trail of the Iguana
1964 premiere highlights
Theatrical trailers
Languages: English & Franais
Subtitles: English, Franais & Espaol (feature film only)

Baby Doll

With Baby Doll, as with A Streetcar Named Desire, director Elia Kazan and writer Tennessee Williams broke new ground in depicting sexual situations incorporating themes of lust, sexual repression, seduction, and the corruption of the human soul.

Time magazine called the film just possibly the dirtiest American-made motion picture that has ever been legally exhibited. The film caused a sensation in 1956, also earning condemnation by the then-powerful Legion of Decency and causing Cardinal Spellman to denounce Doll from his pulpit.

Baby Doll earned laurels too: four Academy Award nominations, Golden Globe Awards for Baker and Kazan and a British Academy Award for Wallace. Watch this funny, steamy classic that, as Leonard Martins Movie Guide proclaims, still sizzles.

The film centers around cotton-mill owner Archie (Karl Malden) whos going through tough times but at least has his luscious, child-bride (Carroll Baker) with whom hell be allowed to consummate when shes 20. Rival Silva Vaccaro (Eli Wallach) thinks Archie may have set fire to his mill and takes an erotic form of Sicilian vengeance.

Special Features:

New featurette Baby Doll: See No Evil
Baby Doll trailer gallery
Subtitles: English, Franais & Espaol (feature film only)

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

Widow Karen Stone is wealthy and beautiful. Her acting successes are a memory. She lives alone in a luxury apartment overlooking the Roman steps where romantic liaisons take place. And waits. She soon starts an affair with the young and expensive Paolo.

Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty are lady and lover in this tender adaptation of a Tennessee Williams novella directed by Broadway veteran Jose Quintero. Leigh won her second Oscar for Williams A Streetcar Named Desire; their reteaming creates a similar spell at once romantic, sinister and nearly explosive. Adding spice to the combustion of the two leads are Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Lotte Lenya as a Contessa who arranges romances in which she has a financial stake and Coral Browne as Karens savvy best friend.

Special Features:

New featurette The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone: I Cant Imagine Tomorrow
Theatrical trailer