Thursday, May 28, 2009

Brando - Rating his Movies - 1961-1965

231. Mutiny on the Bounty 1962

Why Brando Took the Role
Money. Plus a chance to visit Tahiti. Brando was paid over $1 million and lived in Tahati expense free. The movie shoot was a disaster, and Brando was blamed for the bad planning and going over budget. MGM had stupidly given Brando script approval and Brando insisted on re-writing scenes. Carol Reed frustrated at MGM's support of Brando's behavior left and was replaced by Lewis Milestone. Brando and Milestone grew to dislike each other and the endless retakes added to the cost overrun.

Mutiny marked the end of Brando as Hollywood box-office star. After the BO failures of The Fugitive Kind, Bounty, and One-Eyed Jacks, not to mention his damn the budget behavior, even the most starry-eyed producer realized Brando was no longer a BO draw. From now on, Brando would Co-star, support or play the lead in lower-budget movies.

Brando Performance
Brando's performance has gotten mixed reviews. Kaufman said Brando played Christian like "an American Half-back imitating Leslie Howard from the Scarcest Pimpernel" Others had an even lower opinion. I've always enjoyed Brando's foppish performance. As written, Christian is rather a boring hero, and Brando's accent and manner provides some interest. Rating ***½

The Movie
Mutiny did $20 million when released but didn’t get rave reviews or make the $30 million necessary to break even. I think it’s the best of the 3 bounty movies though Howard isn't anywhere as good as Charles Laugton The 1962 version had three main advantages over the 1935 Oscar winner. First, its in color and filmed in Tahiti instead of Catalina Island. Secondly the film uses English and Tahitian actors instead of Americans. Third, the English supporting players and Brando are much better than Gable and the ‘35 supporting players. But the movie bogs down when they leave Tahiti. Howard sadism by this time is well established but with get more of it until the mutiny. Focusing on Bligh’s longboat journey would have been far more interesting. Rating *** ½

232. The Ugly American 1963

Why Brando Took the Role
Politics. Brando loved the message of the film, which was a liberal critique of American policy in Indo-China. Plus the "Ugly American" was the first in five of Brando's multi-picture deal with Universal. Brando had sold his production company to Universal in exchange for a pension for his father, some MCA stock, and $1 million in cash. Brando didn't want to be a businessman anymore. Brando agreed to do 5 pictures for $270,000 a piece.

Brando Performance
Brando plays a middle aged ambassador to a fictional South East Asia country who discovered American foreign policy is flawed. A rather dull mannered performance that allows Brando to pontificate and lecture on US foreign policy. The critics weren't kind - Time said

"One senses that the Actors Studio has not entirely prepared him for the responsibility of being a Diplomat. He attempts an important voice, but most of the time he sounds like a small boy in a bathtub imitating Winston Churchill. He ventures a diplomatic brush, but his upper lip produces merely a promising smear. He sports an expensive cutaway, but the more he tries to be elegant the more he looks like a stevedore at his daughter's wedding. Through the stuffed shirt peeps the T shirt, and at his most ambassadorial moments Marlon is unmistakably a man who longs to scratch. The customers will probably feel the same. It's the natural reaction to a lousy picture."
Rating **

The Movie
Although praised by liberal critics for its politics, the Ugly American was considered a bad movie when released, and disappeared without a trace. Visually dull and shot at the Universal Backlot its moves at a ponderous pace, Except for Brando it has no stars.. Lots of politics & very little entertainment - Boring. Rating *1/2

233. Bedtime Story 1964

Why Brando Took the Role
The Universal Contact plus a chance to work with David Niven. Incredibly witty, Niven had Brando in stitches throughout the shoot.

Brando Performance
Brando plays a rather vulgar, dim-witted con-man. Brando tries, but he isn't much of a comic actor. He's not terrible - just adequate. George C. Scott & James Stewart were funny. Brando isn't. Rating **

The Movie
Based on as script by Walter Shapiro and Paul Hennings, the movie is a witless, one-joke soporific comedy. Niven and ex-U.S. Army corporal Marlon Brando pool their resources to squeeze a living out of wealthy women. The thieves fall out, when Shirley Jones shows up. Set on the Riviera, it was shot cheaply on a Universal sound stage.

The best thing about the movie are the actors. Jones is solid and Niven is good coasting through the film ever so lightly. Early on, he issues a nimble challenge to Brando: "Are you proposing to pit your crude animal instincts against intelligence, culture and breeding?" Unfortunately Brando answers yes, then lumbers on to demonstrate how a potentially great talent can petrify through miscasting and misuse. In one scene he attempts to seduce the mayor's daughter by performing a squalid striptease. Later, posing as a mentally defective prince, he gibbers like a traumatized gorilla and has to be spoon-fed. Then, pretending to be a crippled, self-pitying veteran, he exploits the comic possibilities of a wheelchair. Forgettable. Rating **

234. Morituri 1965

Why Brando Took the Role
Brando still owed Fox for the walkout on the Egyptian. He was forced to do this to pay off the debt.

Brando Performance
Brando plays a German pacifist whose blackmailed by British Intelligence into sabotaging a German blockade runner. Although attacked by critics, Kael called his performance "Hammy" I thought Brando did an excellent job. Intelligent, restrained, and good at showing the characters internal conflicts. Rating ***

The Movie
Disliked by the critics, the movie also sunk like a stone at the box-office. Co-starring Yule Brenner and based on a true WW II story (for the most part) I enjoyed the movie. I found it suspenseful and well-acted, although I like both Brando and WWII movies. The bad part is a female subplot. Per the Hollywood rule book - there has to be woman - even in a war picture. So a beautiful Jewish (wearing a push-up bra) refugee so
mehow gets on the blockade runner & and is in danger. Rating ***

1 comment:

Ralph L said...

at his most ambassadorial moments Marlon is unmistakably a man who longs to scratch.

LOL