July 2, 2004

The great Marlon Brando.

The brilliant Marlon Brando has died. He died on Thursday--I had a dream about him in the early a.m. hours of that day. We were looking at the cover for "Don Juan De Marco" just yesterday and talking about what a great actor he was. I was going to watch "Don Juan De Marco" last night; I will watch it tonight. I was just looking at my old computer the other day, the one where I had changed all the little folder icons to other images, and the folder called "ideas" was a tiny picture of Marlon Brando--it was Brando in his white T-shirt from "A Streetcar Named Desire." We almost watched "Streetcar" the last time we had to agree on a movie--it was in the final three. I've seen that film many times. It's a film that is hard to see for the real story it tells because one is so absorbed and affected and fascinated by Brando. IMDB only lists 42 movies for Brando--which ones have I seen?
The Island of Dr. Moreau
The Freshman
The Missouri Breaks
Last Tango in Paris
The Godfather
Mutiny on the Bounty
The Fugitive Kind
Guys and Dolls
On the Waterfront
The Wild One
Julius Caesar
A Streetcar Named Desire

I've also seen the Brando parts of "Apocalypse, Now."

Brando invented a way of acting that has affected what many other actors have done. Too bad he was not in more great films. Why did he make some quite awful things? I've read Peter Manso's biography of Brando, which explains a lot of his strange choices, though it was published too early to explain how he got the idea to wear a bucket of ice strapped to his head as Dr. Moreau. Ah, it's sad to lose the great man--a great artist! Good-bye to Brando!

UPDATE: There will be many beautiful obituaries in tomorrow's papers. This is from the NYT:
Certainly among the handful of enduringly great American film actors — some say the greatest — he has also been, without question, the most widely imitated. Virtually all of the finest male stars who have emerged in the last half-century, from Paul Newman to Warren Beatty to Robert De Niro to Leonardo DiCaprio, contain some echo of Mr. Brando's world-shaking paradigm.

Simply put: In film acting, there is before Brando, and there is after Brando.

And I did watch "Don Juan de Marco." Marlon Brando was last seen dancing on a perfect beach with Faye Dunaway.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I have more to say about Brando and the response to his death here.

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