The Marlon Brando Collection

Title: The Marlon Brando Collectionmb

Silent or Talkie: Talkie

Review

Warner Brothers has released the Marlon Brando Collection. Brando is perhaps best known for his role in The Godfather, but prior to that, he had established himself as a major player in Hollywood’s list of elite personalities. Assembled here are 5 of Brando’s most revered films from three seperate decades, and great bonus features to top off this brand new set!

Mutiny On The Bounty 2-Disc SE (1962)
Set in the 18th Century, Mutiny On The Bounty was first filmed in the 1930s with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton. This second version from 1962 is a 3-hour epic which stars Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian, the 1st Liuetenant on the “The Bounty”. The ship leaves Portsmouth and sets out for Tahiti to load the South Pacific plant, breadfruit. The captain of the ship is a man named Bligh (played by Trevor Howard), who is a ruthless tyrant, treating his men like dogs in order to arrive in Tahiti faster to take buyout of structured settlement. When the ship arrives, the men experience relief in the beauty and customs of the land. The dancing rituals of the natives is one particular high point. It was obvious, however, that there was great difficulty in covering up some nudity that viewers may have found offensive. Nevertheless, the film presses on. As the crew board the ship for the voyage home, Bligh uses the men’s water supply to feed the plants instead. This is the last straw, and Fletcher becomes the ring leader of a mutiny against Bligh. This film was nominated for a total of 7 Oscars. Bonus features include: Alternate prologue and epilogue sequences not seen theatrically, Four vintage featurettes: Story of the HMS Bounty, Voyage of the Bounty to St. Petersburg, Tour of the Bounty, 1964 World’s Fair promo, Marlon Brando movies trailer gallery, New featurette – After the Cameras Stopped Rolling: The Journey of the Bounty.

Julius Caesar (1953)
One of Shakespeare’s most famous tales, Julius Caesar stars Marlon Brando as Marc Antony, Caesar’s second in command. Caesar himself is played by Louis Calhern, an actor known for his wide range of roles, from “Duck Soup” with the Marx Brothers to “The Asphalt Jungle” with John Garfield. In this classic film, Cassius (played by John Gieglund), becomes enraged with jealousy over the way Caesar is treated by the towns’ people. Caesar is to be king, and Cassius does not want it to happen so he convinces Brutus (James Mason) and others that Caesar must be killed before he can take the throne. Marc Antony (Brando), however, opposes this. Caesar does not retreat, but in fact, walks sternly despite the threat on his life. Nevertheless, he is stabbed to death at the Roman Senate. Antony is in disbelief over Caesar’s death but pledges his support to Brutus in the face of a rowdy mob that has gathered outside. Brutus keeps the mob at bay but Antony verbally bashes Caesar’s killers in a speech he delivers. This turns the angry mob against the killers, and they are forced to leave Rome. Antony puts together a military to attack the killers, in an apparent attempt to avenge Caesar’s death. Bonus features include: An introduction by TCM host Robert Osborne, New featurette: The Rise of Two Legends (this is fantastic!) and Theatrical Trailers.

Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967)
Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor…what could possibly go wrong?! Not too much, talent-wise. Reflections In A Golden Eye is a sexual roller coaster of a film that walks a tightrope on the borderline of perverted obsession. It’s directed by John Huston, who is known extensively for his work with Humphrey Bogart, notably The Maltese Falcon. Brando plays Weldon Penderton, a homosexual army Major whose wife Leonora (Elizabeth Taylor) is not aware of his “preferences”. Penderton is also impotent, a shortcoming that Leonora belittles him about. They have nothing in common, except a last name and their own seperate indiscretions. Weldon is smitten with a young private who rides naked through the woods on his horse; and, Leonora begins an affair with a neighbor. The neighbor is also married, to a woman with a psychotic aura about her. The wife cuts off her own nipples after her baby dies, and she too, is having an affair with a young Filipino man. The private that Weldon is obsessed with finds his own sexual gratification in watching Leonora sleeping in her bed. The plot is twisty and a bit confusing at times. Usually a love triangle is easy to follow, but this is more like a love octagon. The film takes place on an Army base and the general feeling of boredom is the assumed catalyst for this unorthadox behavior. The role of Weldon Penderton was originally intended for Montgomery Clift. Clift died before filming began and director John Huston offered it to Brando, who turned it down but reconsidered. Bonus features include: Vintage behind-the-scenes footage and Theatrical trailers.

The Teahouse Of The August Moon (1956)
Brando plays a really different role in The Teahouse of the August Moon. It’s a seemingly odd choice for him to play an Okinawan, but it isn’t completely unbelivable. Brando is Sakini, an interpreter who leads a group of villagers in 1946 Okinawa. Glenn Ford co-stars as Capt. Fisby, who travels to the village “Tobiki”. He is to teach people a different way of governing themselves and sets out to do it by building a school. The problem is…the people don’t want a school. They have a different goal in mind, albeit a bit more simplistic and childish. Fisby’s leadership has little effect on the people, who are more traditional in thier approach to living. They want, literally, a teahouse. They accept the visitors, welcome them and make them feel comfortable, but it is nothing more than their ploy to manipulate the plans to suit their real needs. Sakini (Brando) is the executor of this brainstorm. The builders who are to construct the school find themselves at a loss for recourse. The natural beauty and peacefulness is all that matters to the villagers. Realizing that they cannot force change upon people who do not wish to change, Frisby and his men relinquish their control and accept the culture for what it is – a happy group of people who merely want to “be”. The plot is a bit sluggish in this one. Viewers who crave fast action and winding loops could find it boring. However, for the audience that appreciates a film’s subtleties, The Teahouse of the August Moon has many lessons in its 123-minute running time. Bonus features include: Vintage featurette: Operation Teahouse and the Theatrical trailers.

The Formula (1980)
The latest of the films in the collection, The Formula stars Marlon Brando as Adam Steiffel and George C. Scott as Barney Caine. First and foremost, the premise of the film is very timely for today’s world. Rumors of a pollution-free synthetic fuel from the World War II era are about. Hitler’s Third Reich has realized its impending doom. A general travels to Switzerland with a load of documents containing information on the fuel, but he is intercepted by an American with wild ideas about the oil industry. Fast forward to present day Los Angeles (1980 Los Angeles to be exact). Caine is assigned to investigate the murder of an ex-police officer. Shortly after speaking to the widow, she too is murdered. This sets Caine off on a trail of clues that lead him to Adam Steiffel. Steiffel is chairman of Titan Oil, an international company with a stranglehold on the industry. Caine learns that the murdered police officer was actually the American who intercepted the general carrying the formula documents back in the 40s. What exactly does Steiffel and Titan Oil have to do with it? George C. Scott’s investigative role fit him nicely. He played a similar role in “The Changeling”, also made in 1980. Though the two movies were opposite in plot, his bloodhound work for sniffing out evidence was top notch. Brando’s role as the heavy was fascinating, and a nice change of pace. Here we see him on the wrong side of the law, when the other films in the set have him cast as a nice guy looking to do the right thing, perhaps with the exception of Reflections In A Golden Eye. This was also a heavyweight fight of sorts. Brando starring opposite Scott was like throwing two pitbulls into a steel cage and watching them battle it out. Both men were leading men, and one can’t help but wonder if there was an underlying attempt to upstage one another. The Formula is a mixture of suspense and drama! Bonus features include: A commentary by director John G. Avildsen and screenwriter Steve Shagan and the Theatrical trailer.

Conclusion

Marlon Brando will forever be in a league of his own. The Godfather aside, this man personified the idea of versatility. This collection alone saw him as an Okinawan, an oil tyrant, and a Shakesperian leader, among other roles. With Brando’s recent passing, this is the perfect opportunity to remember him for his cinematic excellence. Five great films and plenty of bonus features…what more do you really need?!

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