Only a few names explode in our heads, tumbling endless reels of images, sounds, ideas, memories together in glorious profusion.
Brando is one of those names.
Calling Marlon Brando an actor is like calling Einstein a physicist or Shakespeare a writer or Everest a mountain. Brando was THE actor. To paraphrase Mikhail Baryshnikov in an American Film Institute tribute to Fred Astaire, everyone else is acting, Brando’s doing something else.
He was an encyclopedia of emotions, a museum of expressions, a gymnasium of gestures, He was also a trickster, a wizard, a mischief maker. He was always serious, but never solemn. He didn’t simply play characters, he owned them. If, as Harold Bloom has said, Shakespeare invented human beings. Brando invented behavior in the fag end of the 20th century.
He was born in the Jazz Age, grew up in the Great Depression, and came of age the year America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. All of that undoubtedly worked on him, but it was what was in him and what he did with it that mesmerizes us.
Brando was his own explanation. And, as it has turned out, ours.
A documentary, Brando, is making its world premiere on Turner Classic Movies (channel 292 on Time Warner Cable in Santa Monica) this month,
A number of people appear in the film, who knew and worked with Brando, including Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan and Ellen Adler,daughter of his first acting teacher, Stella Adler. Also featured are film clips of and interviews with Brando.
The documentary was made by the the Greif Co. for Turner Classic Movies. Leslie Grief produced it, Mimi Freedman wrote the teleplay. Bryan Richert was the editor. Andrea Morricone composed the score. David Thomson served as consultant.
Brando: Part I will run Tuesday, May 1, ar 5 and 8 p.m. Four of his films will also be shown: The Men, 6 p.m., Streetcar Named Desire, 9:30 p.m., Guys and Dolls, 11:45 p,m. and Teahouse of the August Moon, 2:30
Brando: Part II will run Wednesday, May 2, at 5 and 8 p.m.. Four of his films will also be shown: The Wild One, 6:30 p.m., On the Waterfront 9:30 p.m., Sayonara, 11:30 p.m., Missouri Breaks, 2 a.m..
Brando: Parts I and II will air On Saturday, May 12, at 2:15 p,m., and again on Tuesday, May 29, at 12:15 a.m..