SEPTEMBER 24 - 27, 2020

Cut Blanche at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

Cut Blanche

A FILM & COMMENTARY performed in PROVINCETOWN, MA

Hollywood censors demanded more and more cuts to the film of 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' until Williams and the film’s director wouldn’t agree to any more edits. What the censors insisted on removing?: Stella’s open desire for Stanley.

Festival favorite and Williams scholar Jeremy Lawrence passes on author Sam Staggs’ revelatory 'When Blanche Met Brando' in this lecture/demo with film.
Based on the book "When Blanche Met Brando" by Sam Staggs
Featuring Jeremy Lawrence

Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

Provincetown, MA

Performances

Thursday Sept 24, 7:00 pm
Friday Sept 25, 7:00 pm
Sunday Sept 27, 6:30 pm

The performance is 1 hour long.
$40
Buy Tickets

“Too carnal.”
-The Legion of Decency


“I have the same right to say that moral considerations have a precedence over artistic considerations as you have to deny it.”
-Martin Quigley, co-author of the Motion Picture Production Code, to Elia Kazan, the director of A Streetcar Named Desire

 


Making a film out of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951 was asking for trouble. The adaptation of the 1947 Broadway hit needed approval from the Motion Picture Production Code office, and there were objections at once.  Williams and the film’s director Elia Kazan, who staged Streetcar on Broadway, skillfully managed negotiations over matters they had known in advance would be problematic: a gay character spoken of off-stage, a woman who enjoyed sex outside of marriage, rape.

The editing of the film began new arguments. Kazan and Williams wheedled, compromised, and sometimes persuaded the representatives of the Code to balance artistic considerations with moral concerns. After the film was completed further cuts were demanded by the Catholic Legion of Decency.  At a certain point in the editing process Kazan and Williams refused to participate further. They had compromised enough. 

The final edit was supervised by co-author of the Code, Martin Quigley, who guided editor David Weisbart. Weisbart did as ordered, but after removing what offended Weisbart spliced the ends of what remained with jump cuts, rather than dissolves, which would have been difficult to undo. Weisbert secretly stored what he had cut, and attached what he had removed in place with the original nitrate version. Had he hopes the cuts would be restored?

In 1989 Michael Arrick, then Warner Brothers director of preservation, stumbled over the clips in a mismarked can in a storage vault. The censored parts  of Streetcar were restored and the film was rereleased in 1993 at art houses and on DVD. That’s the only version available now.

What was cut? What was removed was not, as might be expected, mostly footage of Blanche, but footage of Blanche’s sister, Stella, played by Kim Stanley. The reaction shots, when Stella looked at her husband with the lust, are what were cut. And, of course, there was still some footage of Blanche to be chopped out.

In 2005, author Sam Staggs compared the two versions preparing for his exhaustively researched book When Blanche Met Brando. Working from Sam Staggs’ notes and video collection, actor and scholar Jeremy Lawrence shows the before and after, and how the cuts to Streetcar are at the center of the Festival’s 2015 focus on Tennessee Williams and Censorship.

Purchase tickets here.

 

Things To Know Before You Come To The Show


In keeping with the spirit of this year’s festival motto “If we can, we will,” there will be some changes to the standard procedures of attending the performances this year. These changes and procedures have been put in place for the continued safety of our performers, audience, and staff.

Thank you for your continued support and EN AVANT! 

Click here to read the full set of procedures for this year's events.

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