Jessica Tandy was originally slated to play Blanche, after creating the role on Broadway. The role was given to Vivien Leigh (after Olivia de Havilland refused it) because she had more box-office appeal.
John Garfield turned down the role of Stanley Kowalski because he didn't want to be overshadowed by the female lead.
Vivien Leigh had already played Blanche in the first London production of the play, under the direction of her then-husband, Laurence Olivier. She later said that Olivier's direction of that production influenced her performance in the film more than did Elia Kazan's direction of the film.
Vivien Leigh initially felt completely at sea when she joined the tight New York cast in rehearsals. Director Elia Kazan was able to exploit her feelings of alienation and disorientation to enrich her performance.
Vivien Leigh replaced Jessica Tandy as Blanche. This was actually the second time the two of them had shared a role. Leigh previously played Ophelia opposite her husband and director Laurence Olivier as Hamlet. Tandy played Ophelia in actor/director John Gielgud's production of Hamlet.
Vivien Leigh, who suffered from bipolar disorder in real life, later had difficulties in distinguishing her real life from that of Blanche DuBois.
Vivien Leigh, who was only 36 at the time of filming, had to be made up to look older.
Elia Kazan originally resisted the idea of directing the film adaptation as he felt that he had achieved everything he wanted with the stage version. It was only after Tennessee Williams implored him to take on the assignment that Kazan signed on.
Mickey Kuhn plays the young sailor who helps Vivien Leigh onto the streetcar at the beginning of this film. He had previously appeared with her in Gone with the Wind as Beau Wilkes (the child of Olivia de Havilland's character Melanie) toward the end of that film when the character was age 5. When Mickey Kuhn mentioned this to someone else on the set of "A Streetcar Named Desire", word got back to her, and Miss Leigh called him into her dressing room for a half-hour chat. In an interview in his seventies, Kuhn stated that Leigh was extremely kind to him and "one of the loveliest ladies he had ever met."
Huey Long was the governor of Louisiana (1928-1932) and a U.S Senator from Louisiana (1932-1935). He introduced program called 'Share the Wealth' with the motto 'Every Man A King'.
Although Vivien Leigh initially thought Marlon Brando to be affected, and he thought her to be impossibly stuffy and prim, both soon became friends and the cast worked together smoothly.
As of 2003 it is one of only two films in history to win three Academy awards for acting. The other is Network.
As the film progresses, the set of the Kowalski apartment actually gets smaller to heighten the suggestion of Blanche's increasing claustrophobia.
By the time the film was made, the Desire streetcar line had been converted to buses, but streetcars were still used in other parts of the city. The authorities were able to lend the production a car with the Desire destination sign for the opening sequences of Blanche's arrival in the city.
Della Robbia blue is a colour derived from the colours used in the Italian Majolica bas reliefs of Luca Della Robbia (1400-1482) whose famous gates of the Sacristy of the Catherdral were said by Michaelangelo to be worthy of being the Gates of Heaven.
Despite giving the definitive portrayal of Stanley Kowalski, Marlon Brando said he privately detested the character. However, it should be added that Brando was an eccentric character who loved misleading people and playing pranks.
Due to the highly contentious subject matter, no major studio would dare touch the property. 20th Century Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck expressed an interest but had to relinquish the idea when his boss point blank refused to allow it to happen.
Early in development, William Wyler had expressed an interest in adapting the play with Bette Davis in the part of Blanche.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #47 Greatest Movie of All Time.