"WHAT YOU SEE ISN’T ALWAYS WHAT YOU GET" (projection equipment) for
FOUR (4) $500 ADOPTIONS
When a playwright creates a play for the stage, they retain the rights to their works: not one word can be altered, not one scene cut, without playwright permission. The same cannot be said for film, especially in 1951. Making a film out of Tennessee Williams 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire was asking for trouble.
In Cut Blanche, projection will be needed as the audience go on a fascinating journey into the behind-the-scenes workings of this process, the scenes that were cut, and when and how those scenes were eventually restored.
In Adopting What You See Isn’t Always What You Get, you can help bring to life these previously hidden secrets of movie-making and Williams.
The film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951 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.
During the editing of the film Kazan and Williams wheedled, compromised, and sometimes won arguments. After the film was completed further cuts were demanded by the Catholic Legion of Decency. At a certain point Kazan and Williams refused to participate further: they had compromised enough.
The final edit was supervised by co-author of the Code, Martin Quigley. Editor David Weisbart did as ordered, but after removing what offended Quigley he secretly stored what he had cut, and attached what he had removed in place with the original nitrate version. Had he hoped 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? Cut Blanche shows before and after, and how the cuts to Streetcar are at the center of the Festival’s focus on Tennessee Williams and Censorship.