Films from Literature ENG 2400

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  • Language in A Streetcar Named Desire
  • #69671

    Prof. Masiello

    You probably do not realize that there was a time that “adult” language was more common in the theater (plays) than in films. Of course nowadays every word in the book is spoken to excess in movies (to the point of exhaustion). When A Streetcar Named Desire was first produced on Broadway, in the play version you read, there are words that were too strong for 1951 movie audiences.

    1) There is a word used about Blanche’s dead young husband on page 99 of the pdf I gave you that is so strong and offensive that even in 2020 most people do not use to discuss gay people. Please look for it. By the way, Tennessee Williams was a gay writer, a great writer.

    2) Also, on page 83 of the pdf, Blanche says something in French to Mitch. It was noticeably absent from the film script although many movie goers in 1951 may not have understood it anyway.

    It is funny how times have changed. Her very naughty words became lyrics in a disco song, “Lady Marmalade.”

    Here is the song (which I think you have heard) in its original 1975 version:

    If you look further on YouTube, you will find a slicker, more sexualized, all-diva version:

    and an all-male, gay version:

    And Tennessee Williams started it all!

    (Patti) LaBelle – Lady Marmalade (1975) HD 0815007 – YouTube
    LaBelle – Lady Marmalade, released 1974, ein Hit 1975. Audio-CD-Sound zu Video-Material aus TV-Show. HQ-Video
    What Blanche says is what is said in the chorus to this song. By the way, there are several versions of it, one with an all-star diva cast, one all male, etc.

    It is surely an earworm.


    Anderson Uribe

    1) The word used in page 99 is “degenerate”. In my essay for this story I focused on the homosexuality aspect, specifically that it was removed from the film and it was a form of censorship. Stella’s use of degenerate to describe Allan was necessary in the play to further enhance the problem of homosexuality – it was not only Blanche who was disturbed with his sexual orientation. Indeed, it is a word I have rarely heard in this context, but when used, it has a dramatic, insulting effect.

    2) <strong/> “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Vous ne comprenez pas? Ah, quelle dommage!” I liked this moment in the short story as Blanche expressed her interest in Mitch without him being able to catch on, which turned into a secret between the reader and Blanche. It was absent from the film, ah do I dislike their ridiculous censorship! Nevertheless, Tennessee Williams was vindicated by the myriad of incarnations of the phrase in these songs. I only knew it from the music video that made it to the Dominican Republic through MTV by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink.


    Anderson Uribe

    I failed to close the bold tag in my previous post. As a strategy to post with correct grammar and syntax, especially regarding the stories in italics, I write everything in Microsoft word and open and close the tags myself. Itatlics is em and /em with <> enclosing them. Same goes for bold, strong and /strong with <> enclosing them.


    Prof. Masiello


    I think it is rather funny –or at least noteworthy — that for 1951 movie-goers, the script was changed to say that Allan Grey, Blanche’s dead husband, “wrote poetry.”

    We all can assume, having read the play, that was code for him being homosexual.

    There is an interesting documentary film called The Celluloid Closet, which examines how being gay or lesbian was handled by Hollywood throughout its history up until the 1980s.


    Virginia Sanchez

    1) On page 99 of the pdf you provided for A Streetcar Named Desire, Stella calls Blanche’s dead young husband a “degenerate”. In this case, the word degenerate is used to insult her sister’s late husband, and his actions as a homosexual, as something not normal, corrupt, or wrong.

    2) On page 83 of the pdf as Blanche is speaking to Mitch she says “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Vous ne comprenez
    pas? Ah, quelle dommage!” which translates to “Would you like to sleep with me tonight? You don’t
    understand? Too bad!” She only says this after she’s confirmed Mitch can’t understand french. I believe it was a nice way to show her dominance and lust in an interesting way. It’s too bad it was absent from the film script. It’s so interesting finding out these songs I’ve heard on and off for quite some time have incorporated the french saying.


    Prof. Masiello

    Yes, Virginia, nowadays we would not use such a strong word as “degenerate.”

    And I like to show my students and other too about the cultural connections among various forms of

    popular entertainment.


    afrina nishat

    1. On page 99 of the pdf file you gave us for A Street Car Named Desire as a play of Tennessee William. In this movie shows a sexual desired woman who wants a partner to fulfill her desire. But she has a shocking past with her young husband who committed suicide and makes her life miserable. Blanche is the desired woman and her sister is Stella. Oneday Stella calls Blanche’s dead young husband a “degenerate” to insult him. Blanche’s husband caught by Blanche when did he slept with a man and Blanche shouted with him because of his homosexuality and then he committed suicide.

    2. On page 83 of the pdf as Blanche is speaking to Mitch with French language .She says, ” Voulez -vous coucher avec moi ce soir? vous ne comprenez pas? Ah, quelle dommagel! Which means ” would you like to sleep with me tonight? You don’t understand? Too bad! This language was used in the play but not in the movie because of the audience did not take it easily. The naughty sentences then used in the disco song ” Lady Marmalade” This sentences now openly used in the movie and people take it easily.


    Christopher Lobato

    Yes, I agree with the findings of my classmates. Due to its strong meaning, if the play were to be adapted into a film today, it likely would still not be included because it would probably make Stella seem too nasty. However, maybe Stella’s comment is an example of her defending her sister; I doubt it. Also, to comment on your previous post, Professor, I thought that Allan also wrote poetry in the original play’s writing (Stella and Blanche both mention it ). However, the change to make him cry is perhaps another signal that he was homosexual since it fits into a possible “sensitive” stereotype of the time. On a side note, I think another interesting word the movie removed from the play to the film was the word “intimacies,” in the scene where Blanche explains to Mitch her past. In the movie, the word “meetings” replaces the word “intimacies.” However, I think the change here wasn’t because the word was too “adult” and more so because it implied Blanche’s promiscuous behavior heavily. Too bad Blanche’s French remark was not in the film as I thought it was quite funny, and seeing Vivien Leigh say it would have been interesting.


    Prof. Masiello

    Thanks for replying, Afrina.


    Prof. Masiello


    Your remarks about Vivian Leigh speaking French caused me to go the the movie scene again to listen to the dialog. While there I noticed something that seems very sexual yet discreet. While Blanche and Mitch are speaking, he attempts to roughly kiss her and she pulls away.

    The director, Elia Kazan, then has Mitch turn away from her eyesight and lean against a wooden post. It seems he may have gotten aroused and wanted to hide it. That is strong stuff for 1951, if I am correct. (It occurs at the 1:08.40 mark.)



    Yes, on page 99of the pdf for A Streetcar Named Desire use the word Degenerate about Blanche of having lost the physical, mental or moral and behavior from an acceptable level in the context about homosexual. It’s crazy how the word can be crucial to peoples feeling and that’s what happened with Blanche’s late dead Husband.

    On page 83 of the of for A Streetcar Named Desire use the word in French is “Voulez-vous cocuher avec moi ce soir” meaning “Do you want to sleep with me tonight”. The reason for this because it popular .formal way to say something that is more likely to be said for an interact act that it want you to come to the bed with me. Its funny how artist like Lady Marmalade can make songs in their own perspective way.


    Christopher Lobato

    Yes, I instantly remembered the scene you are talking about, I have watched that scene a few times, but I didn’t read into it that much. He does grab the post suspiciously. I don’t have any profound findings like this one, but in the scene after Stella goes back to spend the night with Stanley, Stella is undressed and smoking a cigarette, and it seems like she’s recently woken up. If it wasn’t obvious enough before this, it suggests that Stella and Stanley had sex together after reconciling. I think it is interesting because her smoking the cigarette nor her being undressed are in the play’s subtext. The play also mentions breakfast, and Stella mentions coffee on the stove, but the film does not include this. It suggests that Stella had a wild night and hadn’t been up till now.


    Salina Shrestha

    Due to censorship, the word “degenerate” was taken out of the film and used as a derogatory term when describing Blanche’s dead husband in the play. This made him being gay seem like he was not right in the head and made him seem abnormal. Another part that was taken out from the film was when Blanche says to Mitch, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Vous ne comprenez
    pas? Ah, quelle dommage”, which translates, “Would you like to sleep with me this evening? You don’t understand? Ah, what a pity!”. This is not included in the film because it was too intimate and was considered inappropriate for a woman to say.



    There is a word used about Blanche’s dead young husband on page 99 is “degenerate”. In this story themes related to homosexuality and the homosexual experience are interwoven in many layers throughout Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. This research paper analyzes contemporary commentary on homosexuality from the 1940s and ‘50s, Blanche’s experiences with light and perception, and moments of homosociality between the male poker players, to interpret how the homosexual experience is represented and exposed on stage through the two main characters in the play, Blanche and Stanley. Williams uses a heteronormative context to portray the homosexual experience, thus mirroring the way gay men had to navigate life in the closet while presenting to the public a façade that mimicked that of the hetero norm. Ultimately, Williams uses illusions to make a comment on the greater society’s attitudes towards homosexuals. Homosexuals were forced to present themselves in illusory manners to be accepted within society; they had to navigate the world inside and outside “the closet”. Thus, Williams uses this theme of illusion and perception in various instances in the play to showcase this type of mentality. Also explored is the concept of the homosexual v. homosocial. The Poker Night scene exemplifies the concept of the homosocial and serves as another avenue through which the homosexual experience is evoked. We see, through Blanche and Stanley, the way homosexual themes were incorporated from small lighting details to a larger scope present within male relationships in the play. Undoubtedly, there is so much more to do with homosexuality in Streetcar than readers may originally realize, and this paper only dips our toes into a newer lens through which Streetcar can be viewed and analyzed.

    Also, on page 83 of the pdf, Blanche says something in French to Mitch is “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Vous ne comprenez pas? Ah, quelle dommage!” In this story she acts as if shes sophisticated and cultured with french and the atmosphere she uses french lang to communicate reality but he doesnt understand, highlights different classes paris=city of love, fantasy dame aux camelias=high class call girl/prostitute . Blanche is being flirtatious to Mitch saying “I was fishing for a compliment” and You make my mouth water” and “Come here! Come on over here like I told you! I want to kiss you” and without waiting for him to accept, she crosses quickly to him and presses her lips . Blanche consistently demonstrates that she would like to be as openly sexual as Stanley permits himself to be. Despite keeping up appearances while she is on her date with Mitch that she is a chaste, old-fashioned lady, Blanche clearly demonstrates that she possesses the same carnal desire that Stanley unapologetically exudes. By brazenly asking Mitch if he would like to sleep with her, even thought she safely does so in French, which Mitch cannot understand, Blanche shows us that she would like to behave as Stanley does if only she had the permission. Notice how uncomfortable the Young Man is by Blanche’s sexual advances towards him. This is meant to highlight that Blanche is somewhat of a predator, and he her prey. The calm leisurely way that Blanche behaves around this “safe” stranger suggests that she is behaving naturally, perhaps for the first time in the play. Blanche enjoys toying with, and taking a kiss from, the Young Man, and she laments the fact that she has to pretend to “be good”. Blanche would finally feel at ease if she were allowed to comport herself in the animalistic way that Stanley does.

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