Traces of Marlon Brando can be seen in almost every promising actor of today. From the paparazzi-shy activist Sean Penn to Heath Ledger’s traumatic method to become the Joker, there are still traces of Brando lingering in Hollywood. His ‘tortured artist’ image has influenced countless young actors, many of whom have gone on to become stars. Brando’s commitment to portraying human activity as realistically as possible and his sheer devotion to his roles are awe-inspiring. In my opinion, Marlon Brando is the greatest actor to have graced the silver screen ever.
By 1944, when Marlon Brando was only 20 years old, he was named Broadway’s most promising actor. He gained larger Broadway success a couple years later when he starred as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire. Brando’s appearance in the film adaptation of Williams’ play brought the actor mainstream Hollywood success, an addition to giving him a position as one of the most talked about new actors around. His performance as Stanley Kowalski was so polarizing in the way it encapsulated some many emotions. He lived out the part of Stanley on screen, showing that he had emotional depth behind his tough exterior. The one scene in which he cries “STELLA!!!” is so powerful that everyone who has seen it will likely never forget the image of Marlon Brando in his torn white shirt screaming from the street. A Streetcar Named Desire also earned Brando the first of his seven Best Actor nominations.
Then, in 1954, Marlon Brando starred in On the Waterfront. A Best Picture winner, Brando received his first Oscar statuette for his performance as Terry Malloy. The scene in which he gives his “I coulda’ been a contender” monologue is not only one of Brando’s most memorable scenes, but also was partially improvised by Marlon Brando at the time. In the same year Brando appeared as Napoleon in Désiréa, and the next year he starred as Sky Masterson in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls. Later into the ‘50s, Marlon Brando took on the role of a United States Air Force officer in Sayonara, and a Nazi officer in The Young Lions. These numerous films developed Brando as a leading man and further showed his diversity in character.
Marlon Brando went on to have roles in films like Last Tango in Paris, The Missouri Breaks, and Superman. Out of these, his role in Last Tango in Paris seems to have stayed with critics the most. An Italian romantic drama, the movie was criticized for its raw portrayal of sexual violence and emotional turmoil. Many of Brando’s roles have been criticized for a large variety of reasons, and his films were often so different that they were hugely controversial upon release.
In spite of the criticism against Brando, there is no argument as to how vast an influence he had on acting. Few actors can say they haven’t thought about Marlon Brando when approaching a role. His method style of learning characters is internationally respected, and Brando’s name is one known in households the world over. His image of a paparazzi-shy artist is repeated by many young stars and his talent for realistic performances is renowned. With multiple award winning performances over a range of genres and films, Marlon Brando is without a doubt among the most elite of actors to have passed through Hollywood, and arguably the greatest actor to have ever lived.