films have a special power to lift us out of the mundane cares
and anxieties of our everyday lives. They can make sense of a painful
experience, shed light on a difficult situation, or touch a place
our hearts that needs to be reached.
Cinematic Releases will provide you with insights
exceptional films that can illuminate our lives.
More than a synopsis of the story, these reviews will reveal the
visions and revelations that these great works of art can offer
month we're featuring a special tribute to Marlon Brando, with a
hand picked filmography of some of our favorite Brando films. Enjoy!"
A PERSONAL VIEW
BY MARK A. WILSON
Photo images courtesy of, Brando, Songs My Mother Taught Me. By
I was nine or ten years old growing up in Chicago, my mother would
rarely watch any daytime TV, as she went about our apartment doing
chores, or working on one of her paintings or sculptures, (she was
the original frustrated artist). One of the very few exceptions
she would make was whenever one of Marlon Brando’s early films
would be shown on our small, black-and-white Zenith TV.
When a Marlon Brando film was broadcast, my mother would plan ahead
for two or three days, buying snacks and making sure she had no
other tasks or visitors during the appointed time. When the movie
started, I was always seated next to her rocking chair, usually
on the floor so I could get a direct view of the screen. If my father
was home that day, (and he often was, since he was a freelance commercial
artist) then he would join us, sitting on the sofa and leaning forward
to get a good look at Brando’s performance.
My mother’s two favorite Marlon Brando movies, (and mine too
till this day), were ones that were on everybody’s list of
his greatest films: "A Streetcar Named Desire", and "On
the Waterfront". But she liked them for reasons that were a
little different from those most other writers have mentioned since
Brando’s death in early July.
After watching the famous scene in "A Streetcar named Desire"
in which Brando screams out his often mimicked plea for "Stella!",
my mother would react with almost breathless emotion. "You
understand why Marlon Brando is so powerful in that scene, don’t
you son?" she explained to me one time after the film was over.
"It’s because of the way he shows how helpless he is
to the woman he really loves. After all the earlier scenes when
he’s acting like such a course, tough guy in front of Vivian
Leigh, he finally admits that he’d be lost without Kim Hunter,
that he needs her more than she needs him. Even after he’s
behaved so badly-----after he’s betrayed her, she can’t
help forgiving him once she knows that."
In "On the Waterfront", my mother’s favorite scene
was not the one most critics and film buffs would choose: not the
"I coulda been a contender" taxi scene, or the one where
he puts on Eva Marie Saint’s glove in the playground. Instead,
my mother would mention the scene "---near the end, when he
comes to visit her at night in her upstairs apartment, scared and
alone, and torn apart inside over what’s the right thing to
"When you watch Marlon Brando climb those stairs in the rain,
pleading almost silently, with just the look on his face, for the
woman he’s in love with to love him back, and to give him
the strength to make the right choice----it’s one of the most
moving love scenes ever filmed!"
Years later, when I was teaching a film history class at a college
in Berkeley, I had another conversation with my mother, about Marlon
Brando’s legacy. She summarized it this way. "What’s
so special about Marlon Brando ---- what makes him stand out from
all the other actors of his era ---- is the way he relates to women
in his films. Women feel drawn to him because he’s not afraid
to admit his weaknesses to the female characters in his movies.
He shows these women that he appreciates them, by telling them that
he needs them so desperately."
mother’s admiration, and adoration, of Marlon Brando’s
best screen persona, has made a big impression on me to this day.
Indeed, as I watch the performances of other leading men of the
1950’s, her comments ring truer than ever. Brando’s
portrayal of a sensitive, vulnerable manhood is very far removed
from say: the smooth, never-at-a-loss-for-words charm of a Cary
Grant; or the cool, steady, always-in-control strength of a John
Wayne. A hundred years from now, I have no doubt that film students,
and most aspiring actors, will study the performances of one mid-twentieth
century actor more seriously than all the others: Marlon Brando.
So, thank you Marlon. Thank you, for your brilliant legacy of unforgettable
male characters. Thank you, for taking acting in a whole new spontaneous,
real, and honest direction. And most of all, thank you for making
it acceptable, desirable, and even cool, for men to show their vulnerable
side to women ---- both on the screen ---- and in real life.
a living archive of Marlon Brando images at Magnum's
Streetcar Named Desire
The Wild One
On the Waterfront
The Young Lions
One-Eyed Jacks, directed and starred in.
Mutiny on the Bounty
The Ugly American
Reflections In A Golden Eye
The Last Tango In Paris
Apocalypse Now Redux
A Dry White Season