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Born in Nebraska in 1924, Marlon Brando revolutionized theater acting in the 1940s, and film acting in the 1950s, as an exemplar of the new American “Method” school championed by the likes of Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner, among others. His raw physicality and ability to completely inhabit a character made him the poster child for a new post-World War II order. In many ways, the 1950s were defined by Brando and his star power (a star power with which he was deeply uncomfortable), in such classics as A Streetcar Named Desire (as Stanley Kowalski, the role he had originated on Broadway to great acclaim), Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar, On the Waterfront (for which he earned his first of two Oscars), and Guys and Dolls. In the 1960s, his box office appeal may have declined, but he never stopped innovating, turning in nuanced and moving performances in One-Eyed Jacks (which he also directed, in his only time behind the camera), Mutiny on the Bounty, The Chase and Reflections in a Golden Eye, to name but a few films.
Later, in the 1970s, even as he battle weight issues which would increasingly plague him (and, some might say, overtake him) as the years wore on, he still amazed in movies like Last Tango in Paris and The Godfather (for which he won his second Oscar), and, depending on one’s tastes, also in Apocalypse Now. In the 1980s, he more or less disappeared, though he popped up in the wonderful comedic thriller The Freshman in 1990, spoofing his own iconic turn as Don Corleone. And even though the films he made after that, up until his death in 2004, were hardly of the same quality as his earlier work, his passing signaled the end of a momentous era in American movie history. He is still missed.
Join host Dan Rodricks and Midday film critics Linda DeLibero – Director, Film and Media Studies, Johns Hopkins University – and Christopher Llewellyn Reed – Chair and Professor, Department of Film/Video, Stevenson University – on Friday, April 3, at 1pm, as they discuss the life and remarkable career of Marlon Brando, on what would have been his 91st birthday. Which films of his are your favorites? What does Marlon Brando mean to you? Tune in to hear what we have to say, and add your own voice to the conversation by listening live and emailing your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling in at 410-662-8780 (locally), or toll-free at 1-866-661-9309. If you can’t listen locally, you can live-stream the show on-line. If all else fails, you can always download the podcast afterwards, either via iTunes or the Midday page.
Enjoy the show!