The Glass Menagerie (1950) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –
Tennessee Williams is one of the most iconic playwrights of all time.  He has written plays that many students study in academic settings, and some of his work has been transformed into legendary films.  One of his most iconic plays is A Streetcar Named Desire, and the celebrated film adaptation in 1951 was a major Oscar winner that year.  The year before, another big screen adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play made it to the silver screen even though it did not generate the success of the classic starring Marlon Brando.  Nevertheless, The Glass Menagerie is still a wonderful picture even though it did not achieve global recognition.
A Toast
The Glass Menagerie is a very interesting film because it is an adaptation of a “memory play.”  A lot of what happens in the original stage play and the film involve subjectivity because not everything that happens in the plot is trustworthy.  That is because the characters and events are oftentimes unreliable.  In fact, the original play consists of only seven distinct scenes woven together into an American classic.  Even with some changes, the film still honors the themes of the memory and illusion versus reality as audiences do their best to understand the complex characters.  Interestingly, the basic plot of the film version is still accessible and mostly reliant on the source material.  Kirk Douglas also does well as Jim O’Connor, a man who could be the potential love interest of the main character, Laura Wingfield.  This film might not be the best adaptation ever, but 20th Century Fox definitely did its best to campaign for Oscar gold that year.
The Glass Menagerie might not have reached the fame of A Streetcar Named Desire, but there are actually still a lot of interesting parallels between the two classics.  Amanda Wingfield is an aging Southern belle, much like Blanche DuBois, a character that earned Vivien Leigh her second Oscar.  Both of these classics also deal with dysfunctional families as well as the inability to cope with reality.  It seems appropriate that Tennessee Williams would write about the fading Southern culture especially since he was a Southerner himself.  This film might not be the most memorable picture ever, but it can still offer important lessons on memory itself.

The Glass Menagerie (1950) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Tom wants to go out to the movies
Take a Drink: every time the characters mention “Blue Roses”
Drink a Shot: every time Laura’s famous glass menagerie appears on-screen

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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