marlon brandow typecast?

I recall well the movies
Apocalypse Now and The Freshman
In each, Marlon Brandow is filmed with poor lighting,
he mumbles his lines, and he is a leader or boss in some
sense. Looking at the Internet Movie Database page for him,+Marlon
I think I recall some other movies like this, although I
can’t say for sure. Let’s go down the list and say what
movies have which of the 3 above characteristics.

Certainly his earlier movies showed a very wide and dynamic range. On the Waterfront is one of my all-time favorite movies, and he was fantastic in Streetcar. And The Wild One? Friggin-a.

He’s a very charismatic presence, so I don’t find it unreasonable that he should have some roles as a leader or boss-type, especially as he ages. And the fact is, the man has a husky, mumbly voice (again, especially as he ages).

Remember, too, that his role in The Freshman was a revisitation of his Vito Corleone role from The Godfather–any resemblance there is completely intentional.

Marlon Brando was trained at the Actor Studio and was one of the early followers of “The Method.” Which meant, among other things, that an actor need not always externalize emotions. He has been chided for certain rolls of internalizing too much but look at his range using that internalized emotion (and at times mumbling).

Look at the hunky loner Stanley in “Streetcar”. There is nothing in common with the Don Vito character in “Goodfather”. Look at his German character in the “Young Lions”. Is there any similarity to the recluse colonel in “Apocolapse Now” in spite of both being military men? Not a bit. Compare his character in “Wild Ones” with Marc Antony in “Julius Caesar”. How about comparing his performance in “Last Tango in Paris” with “The Freshman” or “Guys and Dolls”. Not even the mildest similarity exists. “Mutiny on the Bounty” and “Waterfront” and “Superman” and “Missouri Breaks”? Come on, there is no similarity.

You mentioned his regularily playing leaders of some sort. Well, think about it, most major movie roles are leaders of some sort. But despite that he was not one in “Missouri Breaks,” “Last Tango”, “Streetcar…”, “Scoundrels”,“The Ugly American”, etc.

Every time Brando steps onto the screen, something new is going to happen. I cannot think of another actor that has or has had the range of Brando. He has been the romatic leading man, the slimy villian, the slimy hero, the pure good guy, everyman, a symbol of self and on and on.

Is he a one dimensional? Most definitely not. He is truly a multifaceted actor–one of the few.


As he has aged, Brando has lived out a great deal of the contempt he has felt for the show business his craft forced him to operate within.

He got fat, so much so that when the time came for shooting Apocalypse Now, the director was forced to dress him in black and shoot with key lighting only in an effort to make him look even slightly starved and desolate.

He was contemptuous of the people who would pay him such astonomical amounts of money for small roles, and who had no regard at all for him as a person.

He charged more and more, refused to learn lines, and had to read off cue cards secreted over the set. At times (Superman II?) only his head was used, and for about ninety seconds at that.

This easy, disdainful way of earning big bucks hasn’t bought him much happiness either.

His dazzling ability was under-developed through his maturity and later years, with the Godfather role the major acheivement. He could have done so much more.

Was it his personality, or the nature of the american movie business?