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Ken Houghton

They were looking for Last Tango in Paris?

Mike Schilling

Marlon Brando as Butch Cassidy, the most affable man who ever lived?

Ken Muldrew

A Dry, White Season. Brando is only on screen for about 15 or 20 minutes, but he owns the screen during that time. It's a mesmerizing performance.

Dan Leo

Michael Caine summed up the essence of the difference between the two crafts by saying that acting on stage is surgery with a scalpel, acting on film is surgery with a laser.

There's a great short film of him conducting a class on film acting, titled "Michael Caine: Acting in Film". He's brilliant and generous in this, and you don't have to be a theatre or film person to get a kick out of it.


It's hard for me to imagine Brando as Sky Masterson. I guess I should rent it.

Bill Altreuter

Problem with Guys and Dolls is that they reversed Sinatra and Brando. Or maybe they didn't. They are both good enough to pull off either role, and it would have been interesting to see it done that way in rep, the way Othello and Iago are sometimes switched off. In Guys and Dolls the best songs belong to Sky, and the very best song gets cut, because there is no way Brando had the chops for "My Time of Night".


Retroplex cabled "Sometimes a Great Notion" on Sunday, and Newman did a fine, unappreciated turn as Hank Stamper. The novel it's based on is tied (with "Moby Dick," natch) for My Favorite Book of All Time, so of course I think the movie is a pale imitation. But it was a pretty good movie, too. Don't watch the bowdlerized version on TNT, where the movie's climactic shot is digitally scrambled so as to not make any sense.

My local newspaper, the Palm Beach Post, had an article Sunday marking the 40th anniversary of the publication of the novel "Cool Hand Luke." Or was it the 40th anniversary of the movie? Anyway, the author, Donn Something, is an angry old man who complains that Paul Newman owes him a dollar. Seems that Paul is one of those rich people who never carry cash, so he borrowed a buck from Donn to buy a beer, and never repaid.


You may have a point about Brando-Streetcar-posing. But sweet Jesus he was good-looking. The telling point about your story is that it was the female who stuck up for Streetcar.


Lance, you have NO IDEA how happy you made me by mentioning Sayonara. I saw it for the first time about 4 years ago, never having even heard of it before, and it blew me away. It's like Brando's not even acting; he's just become this guy, who someone has decided to film. An even more impressive accomplishment, given the boll weevils stuffed in his mouth.

Self-Styled Siren has made the case for Monty Clift blowing the socks off Brando AND Dean, and maybe that's so, but a great Brando performance--especially when he was still young and so damn virile--can freeze you in your tracks.


for all its faults as a movie ... censorship, etc., 'cat on a hot tin roof' made me fall in love with paul newman ... for EVER.

on a different note, i'll never forget, being 20-something and just out of college and going to see 'streetcar' in a manhattan movie theater. i was really shocked at the nearly raucus laughter brando's performance brought out of the crowd. g.d. jaded new yawkers.

Exiled in New Jersey

"Mendacity" I use that word all the time. Newman, Burl Ives as Big Daddy, Liz and an oiled-down Jack Carson, what's not to like in Tin Roof except those god-awful children.

Every so often, maybe once a month, I will put Luke on the player, find that scene and listen to Newman plunk and sing the song about 'Plastic Jesus.' Great film. An early Newman to find and enjoy is "The Young Philadelphians." Billy Burke nearly steals the film from under him but as Pam puts it, "God, was he good looking."

I haven't seen Young Lions since it came out, and remember not being very impressed with Brando or Clift, but I recall Mad Magazine doing a few pages on it as that rarity, a sensitive war movie. Then again, maybe my memory is failing.


The main difference for me between a Brando and a Newman performance is intimacy. As I think about Brando, I feel a great distance. Newman seemed a little more comfortable with his profession and his life and open with the audience.
I've only seen the filmed version of Guys and Dolls and I love just about everyone in every role. It never occurred to me to think of Sky as anyone other than Brando and it is probably my favorite performance of his, along with the Godfather--maybe because of the cartoon quality of the characters. My favorite Newman is, by far, the Hustler. I found myself feeling unexpectedly sad when I read Robert Stein's post on Newcritics. I thought, "Boy, Newman must be really sick if he can't act and it must be a blow to admit it, especially to himself." Can't imagine feeling that about Brando quitting.


Terry Molloy is the performance that breaks my heart (and he would not be as good without Rod Steiger giving his all as well). But I think the pinnacle of Brando's art is The Godfather. The sheer completeness of that characterization is stunning. Not a gesture, not so much as an eyelid twitch that isn't wholly organic and rooted in the man he's playing.

Just because I think he owes a debt to Monty (which Brando himself acknowledged) doesn't mean I don't love Brando too. :)

As for Paul Newman -- The Long Hot Summer. Far from his best movie but his most romantic role.


I can agree that Guinness is the better film actor thn Olivier and Newman better than Brando. But it is exactly the largness of Olivier and Brando (the "staginess" if you like) that allows them to dominate the screen in roles like The Godfather or Richard III in a way that no one else could.

Ultimately I'm not big on saying one great actor is better than another in a general way-it is all about matching the actor to the role. I can't see Brando as Cool Hand Luke but I can't see Newman as Antony in Julius Ceasar. Guinness could do almost anything, but who but Olivier could have been so amusingly chilling in Marathon Man? (Though that may in part be because that is how those films were cast. Perhaps if Albert Finney had played TE Lawrence after all, we'd all be saying how hard it is to imagine O'Toole in the role.)

And on a semi-related note, I'm annoyed to see movie critics and entertainment publications treating the upcoming Sweeney Tood (Sondheim's masterwork, one of the great works of art of the 20th Century) as if it were some odd idea that only Tim Burton could find worth filming. (See the new Entertainment Weekly for example.)


Brando wasn't acting with his eyes in his earlier movies? I just finished watching A Streetcar Named Desire again, and eyes feature prominently apart from the rest of his body and voice of course. So for example in his first meeting with Blanche, when he asks her "are you gonna shack up here" and moving on in that entire scene. its all about his eyes.
similarly On the waterfront lets take the scene which of course only Brando could have pulled off, when the guys from the commission come to talk to him on the waterfront, after joey's murder. he turns to his right to talk to the man behind him who's standing on his left and skews his eyes and says, "People I may know? you better get out of here buster". And in all his scenes with Eva Marie Saint, he is emoting with his eyes all the time.

Just because one likes Paul Newman (which I do as well) is no reason to assert things which are simply untrue.

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