Tribute to Marlon Brando
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experience, shed light on a difficult situation, or touch a place in our hearts that needs to be reached.
Cinematic Releases will provide you with insights about those exceptional films that can illuminate our lives.
More than a synopsis of the story, these reviews will reveal the uniquevisions and revelations that these great works of art can offer us.
This month we're featuring a special tribute to Marlon Brando, with a hand picked filmography of some of our favorite Brando films. Enjoy!
MARLON BRANDO’S LEGACY: A PERSONAL VIEW
BY MARK A. WILSON
Photo images courtesy of, “Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me” By Robert Lindsey
When 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 do."
"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!"
My 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.
View a living archive of Marlon Brando images at Magnum's Photo Library.
Favorite Brando Films!
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Julius Caesar (1953)
The Wild One (1954)
On the Waterfront (1958)
The Young Lions (1958)
One-Eyed Jacks, directed and starred in (1961)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)
The Ugly American
Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967)
The Godfather (1972)
The Last Tango In Paris (1973)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Apocalypse Now Redux (1979)
A Dry White Season (1989)
The Freshman (1990)