When I started acting training, the first film my teacher showed me was A Streetcar Named Desire. She showed me this movie in particular because it’s a good example of the difference between Strasberg style and the Meisner technique. Both are derived from Stanislavsky, but each one centers around two very different styles of acting. Strasberg is more about emotion and feelings, and Meisner is more about being present and in the moment. My preferred acting technique is Meisner. It teaches you how to be truthful under imaginary circumstances. Strasberg just teaches you how to take your own life experiences and raise the stakes based on your character’s given circumstances. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando, who playes Stanley Kowalski, comes from a Meisner background and Vivien Leigh, who plays Blanche DuBois comes from a Strasberg background.
In this scene, Blanche is talking to Mitch about her first love. As her monologue goes on, and Mitch chimes in. It’s easy to tell that Viven Leigh is not reacting to what Mitch is saying. Leigh is internalizing everything, and she’s not trying to effect Mitch at all. You can’t really tell what her intentions are and she’s being extremely passive. You can believe her acting and that she is feeling everything Blanche is feeling, but it’s all about her. I know Blanche’s character is supposed to be self-centered, but Viven Leigh should not be. Give a little something for Mitch to work with, why dontcha?
This is probably one of the most historic scenes in film and one of Marlon Brando’s most memorable moments on the big screen. It’s also a perfect example of how the Meisner technique teaches actors to change their tactics to get what they want from other characters. In this scene, Stanley Kowalski is calling for his wife, Stella (Kim Hunter), who is extremely cross with him. He calls and calls and eventually cries loudly to her, and she gives in to him. As she’s walking down the stairs to come to him, he looks at her and he starts sobbing because he knows he almost lost his beloved wife. He changes his tactics to get what he wants, and he reacts to her slow moving presence. You can tell that he’s really in love with her and can’t live without her.
this movie is a 10/10 on the acting scale. When people ask me for film recommendations when it comes to raw acting, I tell them to watch Streetcar.