Thursday, December 20, 2007

1960s and Brando - the man himself termed it his FuckU years, the critics termed it as waste of his talent and his audience deserted him, if u go by box office appeal. But was it as bad as we are led to believe. The answer to that in hindsight and having nearly 50 years of that is a big NO.

one Eyed Jacks - 1961: A bonafide classic now, was thought to be interesting but the critics dint go overboard on their acclaim when it released. Made decent money on the box office but was not termed as an outright hit. A classic in nearly every respect and it did present the people as grey and not black and white. Probably the most beautiful western ever shot. It deserves a great dvd version and i am praying and hoping for that. GREAT FILM

mutiny on the Bounty - 1962: how this film failed at the box office has always baffled me. It’s grand entertainment, it big screen film making at its best. People today forget that it was nominated for best picture oscar (though i don’t think the oscars always stand for quality). Yes it failed at the box office, but view it today ( a great dvd with nice features) and it seems absolutely staggering as to how they achieved that in 62. Brando gives a great performance and made the character a lot more multi dimensional than the heroic Gable. I love all the bounty films but as far as story telling goes this one was the best. And Brando's foppish sea man is greatly appreciated 40 years later by Depp as Jack Sparrow. GREAT FILM

the Ugly american - 1963: A political drama which has to be revisited with Brando playing an US ambassador in a county in Asia. This is Vietnam before there was Vietnam. A great mature performance from Brando. The film is not great, but it is also not trash, it has its moments and on the whole is an interesting watch. - AVERAGE FILM

bed Time Story -1964: A great comedy and far better than the dirty rotten scoundrels 25 years later. Brando is hilarious. Crashed at the box office. Maybe the critics’ didn’t want to see the great dramatic actor indulging in tomfoolery. But brando still went ahead and did it and we are glad for it. - GOOD NONSENSICAL COMEDY

Morituri - 1965: Brando, Brynner and no one has heard of this film. A black and white WW2 espionage thriller. This is great entertainment and has a nice holocaust angle to it. exquisitely shot and a cracker thriller. - GOOD FILM

the Chase - 1966: Brando as Sherriff in a Texas town, where everyone is hiding some skeleton in their closet. Brando leads a great cast - angie dickinson, jane fonda, robert redford, edward fox etc. I thought this is a great performance from Brando and the high point is his beating up which has to be the most brutal in film history ever and the way Brando acts out the scene. Arthur Penn directs it well and one just wishes that the studio had not taken over the film and ruined it in the editing room for this great tale on the society of the 1960s. - AVERAGE FILM

the Appaoloosa - 1966: a slow burn western, with a serious Brando, a great john saxon and not your usual climactic shoot out western, but one which ends with a single shot, without the parties involved facing off each other. Again not as bad as it is made out to be. - AVERAGE FILM

a Countess from hong kong - 1967: Brando and Chaplin, besides Welles are the only 3 cinematic geniuses that medium of cinema has produced according to me. So a great many things were expected from this outing and my god how it disappoints. This is A bad film. It has its moments which last a total of 10 minutes, when Brando is trying to hide Loren in his cabin, the joke runs thin and the film just does not take off. It would have been a big hit in the 1930s, but not 30 years later. - BAD FILM

reflections in a Golden eye - 1967: Brando, Taylor directed by john Huston in a great dark film. Brando as a repressed homosexual beats the pants out of the brokeback mountain lads. This is a great performance from Brando and how he dint win every award that there was baffles me. Its too dark a film for it to be successful at the box office but it is a great film. Watch it now. - GREAT FILM

candY - 1968: Brando's worst film ever. He hams his way thru this but yet again is the best thing in it and what a cast. But alas what a waste. - TRASH

the Night of the following day - 1968: Brando would never be this fit again as he was in this film. A kidnap drama which is raised a lot of notches from the performances all concerned. A great ending. again unfairly rejected by the critics of that time. - AVERAGE FILM

queiMada - 1969: Also called BURN. This is one of the great films of the 60s and the a film whose reputation has grown with each passing year. A great tale on colonialism, with Brando delivering a performance which is his top 5. Pontercorvo directs well. Brando's personal favourite film. CLASSIC FILM.

So the 60s report card is not as bad as it made out to be, with most of his films being in the plus column. Was it as good as his 50s film, the answer is no. but then whose films are. The 50s kind of films happen only once in an actors career, Brando's greatness is doubled coz in the 70s he matched the quality of the 50s films again. The reason I feel he get a bad rap for the 60s is that, he started deriding acting and lost the fun for it and started concentrating on worldly issues. He never cared two hoots about hollywood and critics and they got a chance to get back at him which they did.

But it is in no way - the lost decade and now that decade is being looked up again. AMEN and Happy Holidays. We shall go Brando worshipping in 2008.

Friday, November 30, 2007

actors normally steal scenes from their co stars. With Marlon Brando, it was different. He stole entire movies from his co stars. there are numerous examples which i have to offer. His on screen time is less compared to others, but you come out of movie remembering only Brando.

The most famous are:

A Streetcar Named Desire: It was a tale about Blanche - the protagonist but Brando as the antagonist (in a much smaller role as far as screen time was concerned), got the audiences attention and in fact so overpowering was his personality, that despite on of the all time great performances by Leigh as Blanche, the audiences were rooting for Brando.

The Godfather: He was Vito, but al pacino as michael had the longer role, but Brando with only 45 minutes of screen time makes his presence felt so vividly, that even when he is not on screen, you can feel his presence and him guiding the proceedings.

Apocalypse Now: Same reasoning as the Godfather, but here Brando with only 15 minutes of screen time so totally dominates the proceedings, that you feel his aura is pulling the boat to him. from his voice played on the recorder when sheen is getting his briefing, to the photographs that sheen has of Brando in his dossier. Everything is Brando.

Julius Caesar: He is Marc Antony, not the central figure but who delivers one of the greatest speeches ever written better than it has even been delivered. James Mason as Brutus has the longer role, but it's Brando all the way.

The Score: Brando in his last screen appearance, against Deniro and Norton, steals this utterly butterly deliciously...

How this man was able to so dominate the frame that his being off the screen would make the movie seem lesser and him being on screen would raise it to even greater heights.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If u ask anyone including Brando himself as to who directed him best, the answer would be Kazan. Brando called him the best director ever. Brando acted with some luminary directors in his stellar career.

Kazan - Streetcar, Zapata, Waterfront
Coppola - Godfather, Apocalypse Now
Bertolucci - Tango
Pontercorvo - Burn
Huston - Reflections
Mankiewicz - Julius & Guys and Dolls

Some really great directors and Brando has always been very candid about his personal favourite directors - Kazan, Pontercorvo and Bertolucci

My personal favourite director who directed Brando is Marlon Brando. One Eyed Jacks is the movie.

It was a great movie and Brando got a great performance from himself, the subtext of the movie was Brando's triumph as a director and also the fact that Karl Malden who has always played nice guys played a gray character who leans to the dark side so beautifully.

Brando has only repeated around 3 director in his life - Kazan, FFC and Mankiewicz and there have been around 33 other movies by other directors, some Brando openly said were so bad they could not direct traffic ( Sidney J. Furie - Apaloosa).

So what made this uniquely gifted actor so indifferent to nearly every other director. My guess is nobody collaborated with Brando to develop a performance unlike his personal 3 directors.

Brando always tested a new director by giving 2 takes for the first shot. one take was Brando on the job and the second take was Brando phoning his performance and if the director could not tell the difference, then Brando said if he cant tell, than why should he (Brando) give it his all.

I wish Brando had directed after Jacks, but alas…

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bed Time Story is such nonsensical fun, that it’s amazing Brando decided to act in it. The film has got bum rapped for a very long time. I thought it was a hilarious ride and superior to its remake - dirty rotten scoundrels.

Its great entertainment and should be accepted for what it is. a farcical comic caper. Brando is hilarious and i think critics could not comprehend why would the most dramatic of actors, play so against type and even dare to do something comically silly like this.

i think he did it coz he just wanted to try out every kind of genre and had had his fill of serious stuff - so he goes out on a limb and does something which a bob hope / jerry lewis would do.
Brando does a fab job at it, so which just proves that he was a consummate actor

Brando in his later years says that this was the film he had the maximum fun working, as he really liked david niven, his co star.

The film is a great laugh riot, dont go expecting subtle humour, its nonsensical humour and works at that level.

This is one story which will keep you laughing and revisiting ever so often.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Walter E. Kurtz, the man who had to be terminated with extreme prejudice because he had made a friend of horror, because he described a US ARMY Officer as an errand boy sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill. The man who described the world around as - the horror, the horror.

The world was apocalypse now and the man who played the renegade Col. Kurtz was MARLON BRANDO.

this performance more than any other (with the possible exception of Missouri Breaks) is the performance which most divides viewers, some call it great, others describe it a ham job.

i personally feel that it was the high point of a remarkable film and how Brando dint win every award that there was baffles me.

Only Brando could have been the mythical Kurtz. No one before him or after him could play that role. The force of nature that Brando was, he just had to be on screen and it would crackle with magic. He made the whole journey mesmeric, and even though he came in only in the last half hour, his presence was evident from the time his voice was played on the recorder while briefing martin sheen's character.

The Brando scenes were sheer poetry and all the chaos that was happening behind the camera, proves that sometimes conflict is required to create works of sublime beauty.

Brando was a class act in the film and truly the star of this classic film. And having any other opinion, is - aptly described by Kurtz himself - u have a right to kill me, but not to judge me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My first exposure to the magic of Brando

I was 9 years old in 1985, when i happened to see my first Brando movie - Desiree'. A box office hit, but the critics termed it as a typical candy floss, Hollywood spectacle.

But what I am trying to drive at is, the fact, I was completely stunned / bowled over / besotted by the charisma of Brando.

It was a typical Hollywood film, good to look at etc, but what stayed with me ever since was that the man who played Napoleon was Napoleon. I could not take my eyes of Brando, everything he did some how looked like something i had never seen before.

A 9 year old does not know Marlon Brando from Adam, nor does he know about the kind of impact this man created 35 years back when he burst on to the world stage, I as a kid was stunned coz being from India, i have a very strong local film industry which is called Bollywood and had seen various actors (Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar etc), who are regarded as the best ever and I thought to myself why does this man playing Napoleon look familiar and yet completely different. As i grew older I realized that both the Indian actors have been influenced (and they have both conceded that) by Brando and that his characteristics crept into their performances subconsciously.

All I can say I was a worshipper for life of the magic of Brando.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The TCM documentary on Brando was a treasure trove of information on Marlon Brando and a great viewing experience.

It just reinforced what an impact Brando had on Cinema, an impact like no one before or after him has had.

I mean when Pacino, Depp and a host of luminaries talk about Brando as if he was god, then us mere mortals should just accept it plain and simple.

But the great part ab0out the documentary was that it gave us a glimpse of Brando the father / grandfather, Brando on his beloved island and the Brando fooling around in home videos...

Watch it to understand how lucky we all are for the act that Brando acted and took us on a ride like none before.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Brando & the Greats...

Marlon Brando has in his career been in movies where he has had great talent acting opposite him. Some classic examples are:

Leigh in Streetcar
Quinn in Zapata
Mason & Geilgud in Caesar
Malden in Waterfront
Sinatra in Guys & Dolls
...the list is endless

Monty and he were in the same movie, without sharing a scene, Pacino and he were in godfather, but Pacino had to still have the reputation of being a great actor at that time. Deniro and he were in The Score. Taylor and he were in Reflections...

In all the times he was working with great talent, Brando was always in top form and made the other actors seem as if they were always flying on Brando's coattails. I am not saying that the other actors gave bad performances, not at all, they gave some of the best acts of their careers, but somehow Brando was always more memorable, better etc.

How & why...are the questions...
Maybe the answer lies in the fact that Brando was not afraid to make a fool of himself in front of the camera, not afraid to try out things which were as far away as it could be from a cliché. Spontaneity, madness, risk taking ability and the sheer genius to make magic out of nothing. Also the fact that Brando has such an amazing personality and when he is on screen, that all else pales in comparison. One is always seeing Brando, no matter who else is in the frame with him. The best example is the movie Score, with Deniro...a solid heist film, not classic cinema but a good thriller and the scene where Brando and Deniro are doing their improvisations, one can clearly see that Brando is always surprising Deniro with something new...brilliant

A force of nature, according to me both Brando and Garbo can qualify as sheer forces of nature, they just tower over everything else...imagine the screen with both of them together, that would have been a match.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The master and his finest moments:
Now Brando has innumerable moments of sheer genius and the easy ones are so engraved on our consciousness, that even if anyone has not seen the scenes / movies, they would be familiar with the scene.
Streetcar - The Napoleonic code, where he clears the table. Stellaaaa
Julius Caesar - friend’s roman speech
Waterfront - cab scene, glove scene with Saint. The climactic walk
Godfather - opening scene
Tango - monologue with dead wife
Apocalypse - the horror the horror

These everyone is aware of, but there are moments of sublime beauty in a number of movies which are not as famous and that is what i am talking about.

The Freshman: My favourite Brando moment on screen is from the freshman. The sight of a 64 year old overweight man ice skating and that too so gracefully is awe inspiring and Brando is exquisite to watch.

Burn: Brando's death scene in Burn. the look on his face when he walks the dock and turns when he is called out hoping to see his friend but sees a total stranger who stabs him, is haunting. In a span of seconds, Brando conveys 2 extreme emotions.

Teahouse of the August Moon: Brando's monologue in the opening credits of Teahouse of the august moon are brilliantly played and his body language is amazing to watch.

Reflections in a Golden Eye: Brando when he puffs his hair waiting for the enlisted man to show up in Reflections, is so real and natural, that one can only gape in amazement, as to how can anyone think of something like that at such an awkward moment.

Mutiny on the bounty: When Brando’s inner conflict is visible on his face and he takes a whip and then just hangs it on Captain Bligh’s shoulder and says - take your flag with you. You are expecting him to give Bligh a dose of the whip but words can hurt more and that’s what Brando does.

there are countless other moments, some well known some not so well known, but each moment has the magic of something new, which only Brando could deliver.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Brando in the Wild West.

The Wild West is a genre which has been explored in minute detail by Hollywood from the time Cinema came into inception. A lot of stars, directors have put their spin on things. Some stars have made legendary careers out of the west (John Wayne, Clint Eastwood etc.)

Now when the greatest actor decided to tackle the Wild West, what does he do. He does things his own way and puts his own brilliant spin on the WEST.
Marlon Brando has acted in 3 movies which can be called outright westerns.
One Eyed Jacks (which he directed)
The Appaloosa
The Missouri Breaks

One Eyed Jacks – Brando directs and acts wonderfully to conjure up a story of revenge and love which has a lot of subtext for the characters to convey. Have a post on it already. This is without a doubt one of the finest westerns ever, have some of the juiciest dialogues ever. A sample below -

You might be a One eyed Jack around here, Dad. But I have seen the other side of your face.
Get up, you big lard of guts
Sure kid, you will get a fair trial and then I will hang you myself

Brando directs wonderfully and is a picture postcard movie to see.

The Appaloosa – A decent movie, no great shakes, Brando does his brooding bit, has some genuinely wonderful moments, again lovingly shot. John Saxon as the villain has a great role and Brando’s brooding goes well with Saxon’s bravado. Has an arm wresting match between the 2 with a scorpion for company. A wonderful moment, which stays with you long after you have seen the movie. A movie which was released when Brando’s career was on the downswing, it failed at the box office but definitely not as bad as the critics would have it.

The Missouri Breaks – The most eccentric western ever. Again have a post on it. This has no redeemable characters and has Brando with Nicholson. 2 of the biggest icons of pop culture together as adversaries in different western. An eccentric western which debunks every traditional western tradition. Great ride with Brando holding sway over the proceedings. The ends result being one of Brando’s most mesmerizing star performances. He is odd, funny, sadistic, quirky and more while Nicholson is the lovable composed rogue.

What all these movies do is provide us with the fact that Brando was never predictable 9 times out of 10. The routine was something which he hated and thus came the unexpected, the strange, the wonderful magic of Brando unleashed on a genre, which has always been good guys v/s bad guys, leaving no room for the grey in between.

Monday, April 02, 2007

83 today. Happy Birthday Marlon Brando.

Coming up soon on the blog. Brando's westerns, brando's greatest acting moments, brando's pairing with other great actors (deniro, pacino, clift, taylor etc.)



Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Drama, Historical, Musicals, Comedies (romantic, spoofs, slapstick), Westerns, War movies, Sci-fiction horror etc. A 60 year career, with 40 movies, 1 Television performance, about half a dozen theatre productions - so he had less than 50 outings to play just about every character in every possible genre.

He had his greatest success in dramas and which resulted in Brando redefining screen acting for ever. But he had gems in nearly every other genre which are the works of a genius
Have listed down my favourite movie from each genre.
Drama - On the Waterfront / The godfather. (depends on which side of the bed i get up from)
Historical - Mutiny on the Bounty (it really gets on my nerves that it gets unjustly criticized)
Musicals - Guys and Dolls (the only one he did, great one at that)
Comedies - The freshman (have already raved about it on every occasion possible)
Westerns - One Eyed Jacks (this movie hits u in the gut, always)
War movies - The young lions (vastly underrated classic despite being a huge hit)
Sci-fiction horror - The island of Dr. Moreau (probably his worst film ever).

SO Marlon Brando did it all, and did it his own way, and that way has never been traveled upon again by anyone...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Brando defined versatility and how - 1953, the year of the first cult bike movie and also the year of Marc Antony.

The same year Brando portrayed a rebel bike leader - Johnny Strabler in the Wild One and also Marc Antony in Julius Caesar. Which other actor - male female animal robot can boast of that. Not only was he brilliant in both, he created characters which have become synonymous with rebellion and as well for opening doors for American actors who want to tackle Shakespeare.

Who can forget - Brando's retort to the query - what you rebelling against? The rejoinder is a part of pop culture - Whattya Got!!

Who can forget a sexy Anotny who comes into his own and steals the movie from stalwarts like James Mason, john Gielgud when recites the famous - Friends Romans Countrymen. Never was Shakespeare more dynamic and vibrant.

That was the magic of Brando, the king of actors, no matter what the character was.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Marlon Brando never trusted himself with comedy, and yet was very good at it. Besides the great heavy dramatic parts he is most famous for, there is only 1 comic performance for which he won rave reviews _ the freshman. a work of pure genius.

Brando and his comic movies:
The teahouse of the august moon - a delightful romp in post war Japan, where Brando plays a Japanese interpreter who hoodwinks the US army captain, played by Glen Ford. Brando is very good at it and excels in the physical comedy. His body language is very good and the most important thing called timing, he has in plenty. The opening and closing monologues played directly to the camera are hilarious. A must watch and a huge hit when it was released.

Bedtime story - Brando is again in good form, in a movie which has unfairly been criticized.
Candy - a disaster of a movie has Brando and the rest of the cast hamming away.
The countess of Hong Kong - a movie 30 years too late, this would have been very successful had it released in the 30s. Brando has his moments, but the film as a whole just does not take off. Of course there are scenes where Brando is genuinely funny when he is figuring out where to hide Sophia Loren in his cabin and there is incessant knocking on the door.
The freshman - a brilliant movie and a great performance. already have a post on it.
Don Juan Demarco - good solid film and Brando is in good form and has amazing sexual chemistry with Faye Dunaway, the high point Brando and Depp enjoying playing of against each other..
Free Money - a bad film, with Brando having fun and that’s about it.

Besides these Brando has given performances where he has indulged in comedy even though the genre of the movie may be different: Guys and Dolls - great film and the anti western Missouri Breaks, where he gave a twist to his character and played him as a sadistic hit man who has his quirks which resulted in the comic elements. Suffice to say that Brando was mesmerizing in this film.

SO the man had it all, and he did it all.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Brando, Taylor and Huston. WOW...the greatest actor ever, sharing screen space with one of the greatest actresses ever and both being directed by one of the greatest directors ever, is something that should be savoured.

Reflections in a golden eye, is one of those movies which strikes you in the gut for showing life as the miserable bitch it can be. First the movie is a sold effort and leaves you feeling a lil shaken about life's complexities and how we have no say in it.

Taylor gives a great performance as the shrill / sassy / sensitive / sarcastic wife who feels nothing but contempt for her husband but can be very nice to others in her life.

Brando delivers one of his great performances and it is a shame and a blot that this act has not been accorded the status it deserves. No Oscar nomination, I can’t believe it. A repressed homosexual could have been a caricature, it would have been a putting off experience for the viewer. Brando plays his role in such a way that he is able to convey the anguish that his character will be feeling. The little nuances that he brings are astonishing and so very real and simple. This movie contains according to me the greatest breakdown scene ever put on film - when Brando is thrown by the horse and proceeds to whip the horse and then subsequently cries / breaks down, the emotion is scary. I had goose bumps when I watched it.

This film was a huge failure when it was released in 1967. The audiences I don’t think were prepared for a film like this. The remarkable thing about this movie is that there is not one happy person in the entire film. Brando is a repressed homosexual lusting after a private in the army, having his own troubles. Taylor his wife is having an affair with a Col and not happy with her married life. The private is lusting after Taylor and has a creepy way of satisfying his lust – he steals into Taylor’s bedroom in the night and smells her clothes.

This film along with a host of other Brando films from the 60s are now getting reevaluated and getting the recognition that they deserves.
Watch the film but don’t expect to come out all happy and gay (pun intended), this film will tell you that there are places and scenarios where misery and tragedy go hand in hand. Happiness is a mirage for the people living in those places.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Marlon Brando is a fop in Mutiny on the bounty, how can he play a British naval officer in the 18th century as effeminate, he ruined the film with his star tantrums etc...

These are some of the ways the Brando Bounty is remembered. According to me this is the best of the bounty films and the new DVD which has it does the film full justice. Critics forget that the movie was nominated for 7 Oscars including best picture and what a picture it is. Brando delivers one of his great performances. He totally breaks away from the conventional hero of Gable in the earlier bounty and puts his own spin on the character. It might not be historically accurate but his performance and the film are great fun.

The movie is a treat and is an epic personified. Big canvas, locations, grand music (the soundtrack is masterful), great stars with Brando leading the way.

Brando's character (Fletcher Christian) interpretation inspired Depp when he went about doing Pirates. Brando showcases why he is the best ever by trying to do something different. The film bombed when it was released because i think the audiences wanted a conventional hero. Brando is the antithesis of conventional and that's his greatest asset.

The latter day audiences are lapping up this version of the bounty and like a lot of Brando’s earlier stuff reevaluating his 60s work. well bounty is a ride to die for.

Treat for your eyes and senses and has some of the most delightful banter between a superior officer (Bligh) and his junior (Christian) in movie history.

The dvd has some great extra features and is a great buy and much needed. This mutiny has a lot of bounty to offer.

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About Me

anything which i can do by not getting up from my back side, is to my liking. hard work never killed anybody, but there is always a first time for everything. SO CHILL is my motto.