Marlon Brando Movies: 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

Marlon Brando movies on TCM

Marlon Brando, The Wild OneMarlon Brando is the first star in the 2011 edition of Turner Classic Movies' annual “Summer Under the Stars” series, which kicks off August 1. (See Marlon Brando Movie Schedule below.)

Unfortunately, none of the 11 scheduled Marlon Brando movies is a TCM premiere; in fact, nearly all of them were shown on Brando Day three years ago. In other words, don't expect The Island of Dr. Moreau, Morituri, A Bedtime Story, Burn!, A Dry White Season, or The Appaloosa. And certainly no frolicking with Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris.

That's too bad. But then again, those who would like to check out Julius Caesar for the 118th time will be able to do so. And perhaps they won't be sorry, as this great-looking Joseph L. Mankiewicz effort remains one of the best-liked film adaptations of a Shakespeare play.

Those not into Shakespeare can take a look at The Fugitive Kind and A Streetcar Named Desire, both from Tennessee Williams' plays. I've yet to watch the former (from Orpheus Descending); the latter, despite censorship problems, remains one of the greatest movies of the 1950s. Under Elia Kazan's direction, Brando is excellent as the sweaty brute who ravishes not only the body but also the spirit of his fragile sister-in-law. Yet, as far as I'm concerned A Streetcar Named Desire belongs to Vivien Leigh's Blanche DuBois, a cornucopia of neuroses, affectations, and charms the likes of which have rarely – if ever, before or after – been portrayed on screen.

Laslo Benedek's The Wild One (photo) is either laughable or cringe-inducing, depending on how you feel about watching a bunch of guys who look like they're pushing 40 trying to pass for roughhousing youngsters. Kazan's On the Waterfront offers one of Brando's most revered characters, though my favorite performance in this Oscar-winning drama is that of Best Supporting Actress winner Eva Marie Saint.

Two unusual Brando movies worth checking out are Arthur Penn's The Chase and John Huston's Reflections in a Golden Eye. Both are set in the American South, both feature an array of weird and/or psychotic characters, and both were critical and box office bombs. In the former, Brando plays a small-town sheriff after fugitive Robert Redford; in the latter, he's a gay military officer – long before Don't Ask, Don't Tell – in lust with soldier Robert Forster, who happens to be in lust with the officer's wife, Elizabeth Taylor. Neither movie is to be missed, if only because of a number of good performances, including those of Jane Fonda (The Chase) and Julie Harris (Reflections in a Golden Eye). As a plus, The Chase marked one of the last film appearances of always-welcome veteran Miriam Hopkins.

Andrew Bergman's The Freshman offers a highly likable Matthew Broderick as a young film student at odds with the mob, while John G. Avildsen's The Formula wastes Brando, George C. Scott, and Marthe Keller in a mishmash of unintriguing political-economic intrigue. This poorly received box office flop centering on the world's ever-worsening energy crisis received an unexpected Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography (James Crabe).

Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire
Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire

Schedule (ET) and synopses from the TCM website:

6:00 AM THE FUGITIVE KIND (1960) A drifter ignites passions among the women of a Mississippi town. Dir.: Sidney Lumet. Cast: Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward. Black and white. 121 min. Letterbox Format

8:15 AM JULIUS CAESAR (1953) An all-star adaptation of Shakespeare's classic about Julius Caesar's assassination and its aftermath. Dir.: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Cast: John Doucette, George Macready, Michael Pate. Black and white. 121 min.

10:30 AM THE CHASE (1966) A convict's escape ignites passions in his hometown. Dir.: Arthur Penn. Cast: Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford. Color. 133 min. Letterbox Format

1:00 PM REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE (1967) A military officer becomes obsessed with an enlisted man. Dir.: John Huston. Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Brian Keith. Color. 109 min. Letterbox Format

3:00 PM TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON (1956) An Okinawan translator introduces U.S. occupation forces to the joys of local life. Dir.: Daniel Mann. Cast: Marlon Brando, Glenn Ford, Machiko Kyo. Color. 123 min. Letterbox Format

5:15 PM GUYS AND DOLLS (1955) A big-city gambler bets that he can seduce a Salvation Army girl. Dir.: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Cast: Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra. Color. 149 min. Letterbox Format

8:00 PM THE WILD ONE (1953) Motorcycle-riding delinquents take over a small town. Dir.: Laslo Benedek. Cast: Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy, Robert Keith. Black and white. 79 min.

9:30 PM A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951) A fading southern belle tries to build a new life with her sister in New Orleans. Dir.: Elia Kazan. Cast: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter. Black and white. 125 min.

12:00 AM ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) A young stevedore takes on the mobster who rules the docks. Dir.: Elia Kazan. Cast: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb. Black and white. 108 min. Letterbox Format

2:00 AM THE FRESHMAN (1990) A young film student gets mixed up with the mob when his possessions are stolen. Dir.: Andrew Bergman. Cast: Matthew Broderick, Marlon Brando, Bruno Kirby. Color. 103 min. Letterbox Format

4:00 AM THE FORMULA (1980) A detective is in jeopardy after discovering a synthetic formula for gasoline. Dir.: John G. Avildsen. Cast: George C. Scott, Marlon Brando, Richard Lynch. Black and white. 118 min. Letterbox Format


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