Friday, May 29, 2009

Brando - Rating his Movies - 1966 - 1971

223. The Appaloosa (1966)

Why Brando Took the Role
His Universal Contract - this was film number three in his five picture deal.

Brando Performance
Brando hated the movie and walked through the role. He constantly wears a big hat or sits in shadows to hide his face - while a big Pancho hides his weight. Every stunt or fight is done by an obvious double. The producer was so appalled by Brando's lack of interest he wrote the following doggerel - "Marlon, his heart / It bleeds for the masses, / But the people he works with / He kicks in the asses. Rating * star

The Movie
The Appaloosa is a mediocre western filmed with weird camera angles and a low budget. Co-starring John Saxon and a cast of nobodies. Kael called it "trash" and it bombed at the Box office. While it has a few good scenes - Universal was making better TV westerns - Rating *1/2

224. The Chase (1966)

Why Brando Took the Role
Brando wanted to work with Arthur Penn, Sam Spiegal (from On the Waterfront) and Lillian Hellman. An added attraction was a great cast of Angie Dickinson, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, E.G. Marshall, Robert Duvall, and Janice Rule.

Brando Performance
Brando is good as the Sheriff - next to Angie Dickinson, the only decent character in the movie. He shines in the scene where he is beaten up for trying uphold the law. Adapting a Texas drawl Brando lets his intelligence shine through. However, its an ensemble cast, and most of the movie is not about his character. Rating *** stars

The Movie
A
ttacked by critics when released, and a box office disaster. Kael called it a "liberal sadomasochistic fantasy". And "Lillian Hellman wrote the screenplay (from Horton Foote's material), and the little foxes really took over. Our vines have no tender grapes left in this hellhole of wife-swapping, racism and violence, where people are motivated by dirty sex or big money, and you can tell which as soon as they say their first lines". That's pretty accurate. The characters are cartoons not human beings except for Brando and Angie Dickinson. The melodramatic plot is simple minded, and the direction is barely adequate. Lillian Hellman was a hater, and boy did she hate Texans. Rating **

225. Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)

Why Brando Took the Role
$1 million plus a chance to work with Houston. Clift was slated to do the role of the Homosexual Major, but died. To replace him, Liz Taylor & John Houston wanted Brando -and they got him after Lee Marvin and Burton turned down the role.

Brando Performance
Brando' portrayal of the repressed, subdued Homosexual - given to outbursts of anger and rage is the highlight of the film. Brando immersed himself in the role - and he's fascinating to watch Rating *** stars

The Movie
Although everyone involved was proud of the film, the critical reception was cool and the movie bombed. Now, the movie has a bit of cult following..I find it interesting simply to watch Taylor's over-the-top performance or Brando's acting - but the plot ranges from simple-simon to soap opera to just plain silly. Brando you see is married to Liz Taylor but loves a fellow soldier. However, the solider likes girls, nude horse-back rides, and sniffing Liz Taylor's clothing. Meanwhile, Liz is in love with Brian Kieth whose wife Julie Harris, went a little funny in the head, and snipped off her nipples with a garden shear. Oh, and there's a gay Filipino servant. Interesting but silly. Rating **1/2

226. A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)

Why Brando Took the Role
Universal Contract Film No. 4. Plus he wanted to work with Chaplin & Sophia Loren despite doubts about the script and his comedic skills. This was Chaplin's comeback film after "A King in New York" 10 years earlier. Chaplin was in his 70s at the time. After his death, Brando would call Chaplin a "Sadist" and "a Monster" who "couldn't direct anyone".

Brando Performance
Brando followed Chaplin's direction to the letter. He later called his performance an "animated marionette", and complained that Chaplin directed every move, gesture, and voice inflection. Chaplin would play the part for Brando and then demand Brando follow it exactly on camera. Further, Brando is miscast and unbelievable as a pompous, US Senator. Rating ** stars

The Movie
A critical and box office failure when released. Chaplin took the hint and retired. I was shocked at how dull & old-fashioned the film is & the plot makes no sense. Obviously written by Chaplin in the 1930s - but Chaplin didn't bother to update the characters, plot or the language. Full of repetitive and unimaginative slapstick. Neither Brando nor Loren had the comedic talent to improve the material. Unfunny. Rating *1/2

227. The Night following the following Day 1968
228. Night Comers 1971
229. Candy 1968

Why Brando Took the Roles
Money. The "Night following Day" fulfilled his Universal Contract. The "Nightcomers" came at Brando's low point - he did the movie for $50,000.. For "Candy" Brando received $50,000 and points for one week's work.

Brando Performances
Adequate - he's the best thing in all three movies, but given how bad all three are, thats not much of a compliment. Rating ** stars

The Movies
Three low-budget movies made quickly to turn a quick profit. No one cared about the movies - not even the producers When released the critics attacked them and the audience stayed away. Newsweek stated "for sheer ignominious, ineptitude Candy takes the cake". "The Night following the following Day" is probably the worst movie I've ever seen and the "Nightcomers" is completely forgettable All Rated *230. Burn (1969)

Why Brando Took the Roles
Politics and a chance to work with Italian Director Gillo Pontecorvo. Brando had been impressed with the "Battle of Algiers" both from a political and artistic standpoint. And a movie attacking European colonialism met his approval. Evidently, the admiration for Pontecorvo faded after working with him, Brando considered his treatment of the black actors abusive and at time racist.

Brando Performance
Excellent - in his biography he claims he did some of his best acting and I agree. There's been some criticism of Brando's "English" accent but not being English it didn't bother me. Rating ***1/2 stars

The Movie
In 1969 Burn was considered another Brando flop and did poorly at the Box office and with Mainstream critics. The movie has flaws. The acting except for Brando can be over-the-top and amateurish, and the story simplistic. But the movie is beautifully shot and the politics are interesting. Rated ***

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