Actors and Roles

     There are many things that are great about movies, but my favorite item about films is that people can go back and review them and critique them when they are finished. I saw many films in the class; some I liked; some I disliked. One thing one can do with these films is look at the actors in the movies and imagines them playing other roles.

     Most of the actors in these movies are no longer with us (such as Laurence Oliver and Vivien Leigh), but some still are like Karl Malden and Anthony Hopkins. Malden is approaching ninety years of age, and his career may be nearing an end, but Hopkins' career is still going strong.

     None of the above paragraph is really necessary for this essay; but it is important to note that actors can be imagined in different roles; they just cannot play them if they are dead.

     Imagine what would have happened if the virtually unknown actor Harrison Ford had not been tapped for the role as Hans Solo in Star Wars? Would the movie have had the same success? Perhaps, but the point is, could you imagine Marlon Brando in that role? I think not. Of course, Ford had the security of being in Director George Lucas' American Graffiti before Star Wars was even made. But that is neither here nor there.

     So here are a few actors I would have liked to have seen in different movies that we watched this semester.

     Marlon Brando (in Streetcar mode) would have been most interesting as Torvald in a movie version of Henrk Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House. Here is Torvald. He and his family are well-to-do. They have a nice house. They have the "pesky guy," Krogstad (Denholm Elliot), who had gotten fired by Torvald coming by everyday, asking for forgiveness. So here is Brando, who (by comparison to Torvald) played a bum in Streetcar. Hopkins' Torvald, by no means, had a great relationship with his own wife, Nora (Claire Bloom); but Brando's Torvald would have a nonexistent relationship with Claire Bloom's Nora.. And by the time his fired employee came by the house the first time, Torvald (played by Brando) would have made sure that he did not come around again because the "poor guy" would get beat up something fierce.

     Karl Malden could have depicted a fascinating Morris (Montgomery Clift's role) in The Heiress. Malden did not get the job done in Streetcar. He did not get to marry Blanche (Vivien Leigh); but, most of the time, he got the job done as an actor. He always got the "bad guy" as a cop on the '70s TV show The Streets of San Francisco. And he never leaves home without his American Express card.

     I believed he would have come closer to getting the girl, Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) in The Heiress than Clift did, however. Malden's Mitch showed great compassion with Blanche, except for the part at the end of the movie where she accused him of lying, of course. While Malden's Morris would not get the girl in The Heiress because the script, of course, would not call for it, he would come closer with his compassion. He lacks the smoothness and suaveness Clift projected in the role, but I think Audrey Hepburn as Catherine instead of Olivia de Havillard, could see Malden as an honest, engaging man. And with his American Express card, they would be covered on dates, too.

     Both actors I have described--Brando and Malden--would not necessarily be better in these roles. However, I believe it would be great to see how they would act in these roles.

Greg Stark

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