Howard Hawks once complained that, after he'd spent 20 years trying to scale down and simplify screen acting, Elia Kazan went and shot all his work to hell with this 1951 film, which features some of the most hysterical performances in film history. But they are also great performances, and Hawks could have taken heart from Kim Hunter's work, which provides superb, understated balance to the famous fireworks of Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. Kazan's direction is often questionably, distractingly baroque, swelling up the considerable subtlety of the Tennessee Williams play, but if the hothouse style was ever justified, this is the occasion. With Karl Malden; photographed by Harry Stradling.
By Dave Kehr