A Streetcar Named Desire
There have been fine adaptations of Tennessee Williams' ode to psychological abuse in New Orleans' French Quarter since Elia Kazan's original screen version--more explicit versions that have, in theory, stayed truer to the original script (this 1951 take had to tone down some of the bluer dialogue to appease Hollywood censors). It's hard to imagine, however, another film more successfully capturing the lurid, violent tone of Blanche DuBois' destruction at the hands of brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski. Attribute much of this to Marlon Brando's brutal, career-making turn as Stanley. Credit also director Kazan, who, deplorable political decisions aside, had a gift for maneuvering past the censors, using dark moods and innuendo to more devastating effect than most current films use sex and violence. Vivien Leigh as Blanche, Kim Hunter as Stella, and Karl Malden as Mitch all won Oscars for their performances; Brando's made him an American icon.